LET the battle begin. Peugeot's 2008 has entered the new sub-compact market with an aggressive starting price in what's set to be the new boom genre.
The Peugeot 2008 starts from $21,990, which matches Nissan's new Juke which will also be launched the later this month and undercuts Holden's Trax by $1500.
Built in Mulhouse, France, the 2008 shares 67% of its components with the 208 hatch. And that's a good thing… the 208 is a capable compact offering.
But the SUV version is 200mm longer, 96mm higher, with ground clearance of 165mm.
Available with two petrol engines and an oil-burner, Peugeot has got the jump its competition. While the Juke will follow quickly, also in the wings next year is the Ford EcoSport, Suzuki's new SX4 S-Cross and the Renault Captur.
Interesting dynamics mirror the 208.
One of the smallest steering wheels on the market sits low with the instruments perched just below the driver's eyeline. The driver's positioning is weird at first, yet once you become accustomed, it works, and really negates the need for a cockpit-like head-up display.
Top-spec leather pews are firm with nice bolstering at the base and laterally, but we wouldn't be disappointed with the spongy cloth trimmed seats found in the Active.
The cabin has some elegance, bolstered by the aircraft-inspired handbrake, and a 17.7cm colour touch-screen.
Rear seat space is okay for adults on short journeys, and head room is generous enough for anyone up to 185cm.
On the road
Fun to drive with a brilliantly direct steering feel, the little 2008 is surprisingly fleet-footed.
In fact, it's so nimble dynamically that it cries out for extra power. The three engine choices available are all honest, but none are firecrackers.
Both petrol donks are serviceable and are fine around town, while also capable on the highway. The 1.2-litre three-cylinder feels lighter and has greater cornering deftness, yet both petrols need some encouragement on hills and some hefty right-foot antics to be quick off the mark.
The diesel is stronger and more willing through the mid-rev range, although is only available with the five-speed manual box.
Reactions were mixed with the automatic transmission, which some testers said tended to "hunt" gears, but we will reserve judgment until we get a longer steer.
What do you get?
Active models come with 17.7cm screen, 16-inch alloys, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, rear parking sensors and camera, six airbags, six-speaker stereo with two USB ports and auxiliary port, cruise control, rear spoiler and air con.
Allure gains auto lights and wipers, panoramic glass roof, dual zone air con, sat nav, blue interior lighting and a leather/cloth trim combination.
The Outdoor gets larger 17-inch alloys, the diesel engine and grip control, which enables you to select between five modes for semi off-road driving.
Boot space is impressive for this genre. Three suitcases can be accommodated with 410 litres of space, and that expands to 1400 with the seats folded.
There are dual cup holders in front of the shifter (although not on the base model), a handy centre console and space for bottles in the doors.
All three engines are relatively frugal at the pump, but the petrols do sip premium unleaded. The automatic 1.6-litre can get thirsty at nearly nine litres for every 100km, but the diesel's official figure is rated at less than 5L/100km.
Fixed price servicing over five years helps sweeten the deal as high maintenance costs have been one issue for the French marque.
Peugeot's trademark floating grille features prominently, and the roof also has "waves" above the rear passenger doors inspired by the double bubble on the RCZ.
It's a handsome little thing with a nice wide stance at the rear and some purposeful looking bulges at the wheel arches.
Peugeot is backing a winner with the 2008. It has the dynamics, fit, finish and the posh-factor to garner new fans.
It is marketed as a city car, and despite the diesel having off-road modes it's really designed for the bitumen, but can cruise comfortably at 100kmh and is adept in the bends. The French marque has positioned itself well in what's set to be a competitive new segment.
What matters most
What we liked: Good looking inside and out, direct steering with great feel, good features list, excellent pricing.
What we'd like to see: Automatic option with the diesel, even more powerful drivetrains as the chassis can handle it, cup holders in base model.
Warranty and servicing: Five-year 75,000km warranty. Servicing is capped for five years, $369 for each service annually or 15,000km.
Model: Peugeot 2008.
Details: Five-door two-wheel drive sub-compact sports utility vehicle.
Engines: 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 60kW @ 5750rpm and peak torque of 118Nm @ 2750rpm; 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol 88kW @ 6000rpm and 160Nm @ 4250rpm; 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel 68kW @ 4000rpm and 230Nm @ 1750rpm.
Transmissions: Five-speed manual or four-speed automatic.
Consumption: 1.2 - 6.0 litres/100km; 1.6 - 7.7L/100km (m), 8.8L/100km (a); 1.6 e-HDi - 4.7L/100km.
CO2: 114g/km; 135g/km, 150g/km; 103g/km.
Bottom line (plus on-roads): Active - $21,990 (m), $24,990 (a); Allure - $27,990 (m), $29,990 (a); Outdoor e-HDi $31,990 (m).
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