Peugeot 2008 jumps into hot crossover market

By Liz Dobson

Peugeot 2008 compact proves popular

The Peugeot 2008 is in its element around the city . Pictures / Ted Baghurst
The Peugeot 2008 is in its element around the city . Pictures / Ted Baghurst

Kiwi real estate agents and New Zealand car companies have something in common - they're operating in an extremely competitive market.

Every time a car company offers a deal on a model, you can bet its competition will be following suit. Whereas anyone trying to buy a house in Auckland will know that you'll need a $33 million Lotto win to secure a house.

So introducing a new model in the hot compact crossover segment to a real estate agent made sense. When I showed the Peugeot 2008 to my local agent, Lisa, I told her the stylish French crossover was priced from $31,990.

"Is that all?" she said. A line any wannabe Auckland house buyer will never use.

But price is important for this segment, as Peugeot importer Sime Darby knows. Holden recently launched its compact crossover, the Trax, starting from $32,990, while both vehicles face competition from the similarly priced Nissan Juke, and the more expensive Mitsubishi ASX and Hyundai ix35.

While some models in this compact segment offer four-wheel-drive capability, the likes of the Trax and 2008 are urbanites - crossovers based on hatchback platforms.

They'll also be joined next year by Ford's EcoSport, of which I attended the international launch in India recently, to pack the segment with more options for Kiwis buyers.

Sime Darby boss Grant Smith said at the 2008 launch that compact crossover is the fastest-growing segment in New Zealand, and he's hoping that by the end of this year he'll have sold 90 units, if he can get the supply.

It's not just Kiwis who want this product - Peugeot France has had to add extra shifts to its Mulhouse factory to cater for demand outside of Europe.

Also produced in Mulhouse is the 208 hatchback on which the 2008 is based, though it is 195mm longer, 196mm taller and 24mm wider than the hatchback with 162mm more ground clearance.

The 2008 also has 360 litres of boot capacity, 75 litres more than the 208.

The compact crossover is powered by the 208's 1.6-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine (88kW/160Nm) and paired with the four-speed auto transmission. But the 2008 has been recalibrated to offer more robust steering that gives a firmer feel on the road.

The 2008 inherits Peugeot's new floating front grille, but gains roof "waves" above the passenger doors that are reminiscent of Peugeot's RCZ, while "claw mark" rear lights give a fun impression plucked from the brand's lion emblem.

The rear is bulky, giving a strong road presence whereas the Trax went hefty in the front to give prominence, and it's top model LTZ sat on 17in alloys, as opposed to both 2008s having 16in alloys only.

Peugeot NZ manager Todd Groves said the factory wasn't offering 17in alloys on our shipments, though after driving the Trax LTZ the slight increase gives the vehicle a more SUV appearance.

Inside, the 2008's front seats are thinner to give rear passengers more leg room, while the roof wave gives more head room in the back. The 2008 has big gains over the Trax when it comes to the stylish front console while the handbrake is designed to resemble a plane's throttle.

After driving the base model Active ($31,990) at the NZ launch of the 2008, I spent last week in the top-spec, stylish Allure ($33,990) which gains tinted glass, rear parking, a cooled glovebox, panoramic sunroof and fun disco neon interior lights.

Add $750 to the bill and you get satnav, while the Trax instead has the option of downloading the navigation app BringGo - though the Holden compact crossover gets points for having reversing cameras as standard across both its models.

In the past Peugeot has had a bad rap for its four-speed auto gearbox, but the partnership between the 2008 and the transmission works. On the motorway there's enough pep to keep up with traffic speed and, as you sit higher than your average sedan or hatch, the 2008 provides that buyer-attracting extra height.

However, it's around the city that the car comes into its element - being small enough to fit into car park spaces though higher than your average sedan or hatch to provide height to see ahead in traffic.

- NZ Herald

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