What's it like?
It’s much the same to drive, of course. The 1.6-litre 118bhp diesel motor is a staple in the Peugeot range these days, although its installation in the 2008 leaves a little to be desired. There’s a lot of boomy engine resonance in the cabin at lower revs and a general background din of suspension and tyre noise even at town speeds, while tyre noise takes over on the motorway. Still, the engine pulls with fair gusto and it isn’t hard to keep on the boil. A good thing, since rowing the notchy, imprecise gear shift is no pleasure.
Body roll is quite progressive and there’s no ungainly jarring on the bump stops to worry about, while ride comfort is pretty good. It bustles around a bit over undulating and scrappy surfaces, but bump absorption is generally pliant and you feel like you’re getting a cushy ride over most roads. You’ll be more bothered by the aggressive initial steering response, which is emphasised by that tiny steering wheel. While a fast rack and small wheel do result in a reactive, nimble-feeling turn-in that many will enjoy, it also makes the 2008 feel a touch flighty at times. It’s just too easy to whack a few degrees too much lock on and have to adjust your line subsequently.
The higher seating position of the 2008 actually suits Peugeot’s rather opinion-dividing cabin style more than lower-set hatches such as the 208 and 308. Being raised to a loftier position makes it easier to see the dials over the low-set wheel, so while some will still find it odd, most will at least be able to get comfortable while still having the dials clearly in sight. This is also the nicest looking cabin in the class, helped along by the 7.0in colour touchscreen, which you get on most trims and which now features Apple CarPlay and Mirrorlink.
There’s a enough room in the back for a couple of average-sized adults to sit comfortably behind taller adults in the front, but the short rear doors and surprisingly high sill over which you have to step means that this actually isn’t a particularly function-first small SUV. You’d struggle to get three across the rear bench, and there’s no centre rear armrest either.
The boot also has some odd quirks, mainly a load bay cover that doesn’t lift with the bootlid. Instead, it’s hinged so you can lift the leading edge to see the boot better, but lifting the whole thing is a double-handed faff that is sure to infuriate if you’re trying to simultaneously martial wayward children and shopping trolleys. At least the split-folding seats drop easily to leave a flat loadbay.
Should I buy one?
This whole class of dinky urban SUVs is blighted by mediocrity. All the key contenders have major pitfalls, from the cheap-feeling Renault Captur to the too-pokey Nissan Juke, the aged-feeling Ford Ecosport, and firm-riding Kia Soul. The Peugeot 2008 is no exception, with oddly impractical touches marring its cabin functionality and its quite poor refinement being big irritations in an otherwise respectable dynamic repertoire. For that reason, we’d still say that a conventional hatchback – be it Polo-sized or even Golf-sized – will do much the same job, only better.
Still, the high seating position and chunky looks undoubtedly have big appeal, and if you’re set on a bit of urban roving in a compact SUV, we’d say the Renault Captur, with its superior cabin versatility and equipment levels, plus lower pricing, is a better bet. The Peugeot’s classier-feeling forward cabin and sharper handling give it an edge that some buyers will fall for, but look to the still well-equipped Allure trim to get much better value, given that the GT Line models command a price tag of around £20,000 that the 2008 struggles to justify. Ultimately, the 2008 remains a middling option in a middling class of cars.
Peugeot 2008 1.6 BlueHDi 120 GT Line
Location: Gloucester; On sale: Now; Price £20,565; Engine 4 cyls, 1560cc, diesel; Power 118bhp at 3500rpm; Torque 221lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1200kg; 0 62mph 9.6sec; Top speed 119mph; Economy 76.3mpg (combined); CO2 rating & BIK tax band 96g/km, 19%