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Peugeot’s new Crossover SUV is practical, fun to drive and punches above its weight

Some cars fly under the radar because the marque doesn’t always readily spring to mind when you’re in the market for a new car.

Brian Joss – Sadly, I predict that this is going to happen with the new SUV from Peugeot, the updated 2008 1.2 GT-Line automatic which I had on test.  But if Peugeot gets its marketing act together in South Africa a different picture could emerge.  Since the compact crossover 2008 was launched in 2013 it has sold more than 760 000 units worldwide and here it reached a paltry 154.

The new Peugeot 2008 GT-Line Auto: keep it in mind when you’re looking for new wheels. Picture: Motorpress

The Peugeot Lion has a long and proud history going back to 1889. One website said that In 1890 Peugeot began to produce four-wheeled vehicles with an internal combustion engine. In 1905, the year that Peugeot launched a compact car,  their drivers placed third and fourth in the Grand Prix.

Another milestone was in 1913, when the marque’s first racing car powered by a 7.6 litre engine, won the Dieppe Grand Prix; in 1931, Peugeot was already using front suspension, a novelty at the time; in 1952 it sold its millionth vehicle, then when Peugeot merged with Citroën in 1974 the manufacturer was among the world leaders in the car market.

Earlier this year, the parent company stopped the importation of Citroën in to South Africa giving Peugeot another chance to rebuild the brand and to look at their product line-up.

One result is the flagship 1.2 GT-Line powered by a 3-cylinder turbo engine mated to a new 6-speed automatic gearbox. The little 1.2, and I use the term little advisedly, punches far above its weight.

The Crossover SUV ticks all the right boxes and is  practical and versatile. The GT-Line is an attractive looking car which turned heads. The 1.2 is deceptively compact. There’s plenty of space inside, in front, and for rear seat passengers, who didn’t complain of being cramped.

The styling changes aren’t in your face; they’re more subtle, done with typical French flair. The new upright grille gives the car a more muscular appearance and they have used more black finishes to much greater effect, for example,  on the lower part of the body and on the 17 inch alloy wheels.

Other cosmetic tweaks include the raised bonnet; the front and rear bumpers; sill protectors; and wheel arch surrounds finished in a contrasting solid black.

 The LED taillights show off Peugeot’s trademark claw-shaped signature.

There are steel scuff plates at the back and front. While the roof rails and the car’s rectangular shape give it the appearance of a small station wagon.

As I pointed out it’s deceptively compact, even the boot at 410 litres is bigger than the Mazda CX3 (tested), one of its competitors. With the rear seats down, says Peugeot, it expands to 1 400 litres.  And unusually, there is a full-size spare wheel.

The inside is fitted with Peugeot’s much lauded i-Cockpit which now includes a seven inch colour touch screen display with the latest generation connectivity and ergonomics. That means that all controls are close at hand and easy to use. 

Standard on the GT-Line are dual zone climate control, the infotainment system, which includes, reverse parking camera, navigation, automatic lights and wipers, six  airbags; park distance control and hill start assist, to name a few. It’s all very neat and efficient, and the systems are easy to operate.

While the partially fitted leather seats, which incidentally are extremely comfortable and provide good support, give the cabin a luxury feel.

The 2008’s steering wheel is fairly small and though you can adjust it for rake and reach, in my opinion it is set a bit low, and if you don’t get it exactly right, some of the instrumentation will be obscured. But that’s a minor irritation. The handbrake, too, is an oddity but you get used to it.

An interesting feature fitted only to the GT-Line is Grip Control: basically it adjusts the amount of traction to suit the driving conditions. It has five settings, normal, snow, sand, off-road and ESP off. Somehow I don’t think South African drivers will use it much, unless the weather pattern undergoes a dramatic change. And I doubt if the 2008 will be taken off-road.

The $60 000 question is, how does it drive?

Road-holding is good and the ride supple. The steering is quick and direct and at no stage did I think the car would lose it going round the bends. The six-speed automatic gearbox that drives the front wheels suits the engine.  The GT-Line delivers 81 kW and 205 Nm of torque which is already available from 1 500 rpm. This “little” Peugeot has a lot of oomph. It’s nippy and easily keeps up with the traffic flow. And even at the legal limit, overtaking is a cinch. There’s no stuttering and the 2008 responds quickly when you put foot. No drag whatsoever.

Fuel economy is good in the petrol turbo engine: but not as good as Peugeot’s claims of 5.2 litres/100 km. As always those figures are achieved in a perfect world. My figures were little more than 7 litres/100km and that was driving at the legal limit, most of the time and in all sorts of traffic conditions. The open road, the highway and peak hour in Cape Town’s CBD which is always a nightmare. Although I was quite happy piloting the Peugeot through the gridlock.

If you have a leaden foot your fuel use will go up accordingly.

I was quite tempted to put foot as the Peugeot 2008 1.2 GT-Line cries out to be driven at speed. However, “Big Brother” is always watching, especially in the Stellenbosch area where the men  (and women) in blue show no mercy.

In summary the 2008 GT-Line is fun to drive.  It will suit the driver who wants a car to get from A to B without too much hassle. But if you don’t regard driving as a chore the Peugeot 2008 1.2 GT- Line Auto will suit you to a T. You can use it quite happily for your daily commute or as a long distance cruiser. If you’re looking for a  new car this one is worth more than a second look.

The Peugeot 2008 1.2T GT-Line automatic sells for R349 900 (check with your dealer), and comes with a 3-year/100 000 km warranty and 3-year/45 000 km service plan which can be extended or converted to a full maintenance plan.

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