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The French are a fashionable bunch: Artists, designers and gastronomic wizards. Their flair for creativity doesn’t stop with fashion or food. Their ability to combine form with function can be seen in their cars. The French motor manufacturers (Peugeot, Citroën and Renault) remain unified in establishing moving parts that remain individualistic within the motoring fraternity, but integrated in their whimsical flair.

The latest example of this can be seen in Peugeot’s compact 2008 SUV, designed for the upwardly mobile: Singles, couples and empty nesters. The 2008 has been built for those who live in the city, yet like to ‘escape’ for adventure. The 2008 has been designed and manufactured for an array of lifestyle needs. The award winning SUV has recently snatched coveted titles in Poland, Ireland and Italy.

 

It is built off of the compact 208 hatch but offers a greater amount of cross referenced abilities. It will get you to work, carry your groceries, cart young kids and take you and your loved one along with a bicycle for a day time excursion. It has a 168mm ground clearance and an adjustable terrain response system for road, sand, mud or snow - which are all within the 2008’s capabilities.

Visually the car is pretty, whether you look at it face on, from the side or at its rear. Interesting chrome highlights have been used to accentuate the cars design prowess. The 2008 can be optioned with what I would refer to as ‘playful’ florescent decal highlights. These trim options run on the car’s bumpers, wing mirrors and up onto the car’s roof. Personally I think they detract from the 2008 attractive lines and look more sophisticated with the sporty chromo accents. Where the colourful trim detail works better is within the cabin.

The design and layout of the cabin is borrowed for the smaller 208, featuring a ‘wave’ dashboard and petite oval sports steering wheel. There is a variety of fashionable trim details that are both good quality and trendy. These highlights are what will separate the 2008 from its competitors. Getting comfortable in the driver seat is possible, but takes a little longer than usual to get yourself ‘just right’. However once you have perfected your station, you feel cossetted.

Fire up the familiar Peugeot 1.6l engine that is also used in other Peugeot, Citroën and MINI product, release the clutch and engage first gear, you are off. At first you notice the vivacious performance from the engine. The steering is nicely weighed and sharp with a small turning circle. This combination gives the 2008 a decidable sporty feel. All of the mechanical parts of the car work well, and communicate to its driver, which ultimately delivers a comfortable and pleasant driving experience. The 2008 strongest point is its ride - a perfect balance between handling that is agile and suspension that is poised for comfort.

While in Port Alfred for the launch, we put the 2008 through its paces. Long stretches of open road saw the car drive through mountain passes, small towns and rural farm lands. Speed ranged from 0-140km/h with the majority of the drive being travelled at 100km/h. The car felt solid and sporty, though its comfort zone was felt at 120km/h. The five speed gearbox has its pros and cons. Pull offs are nippy, and gear ratios well placed, but the negative side, higher revs at speeds over 100km/h create the desire to change into a non-existent sixth gear.

The smaller SUV market is dominated by the Nissan’s Juke, which sells approx. 350 units per month. There is also Ford’s EcoSport and Suzuki’s brand new second generation SX4. Where the 2008 shines above these competitors, is in its combination of good looks, design detail, driver mod cons and accomplished ride quality.

 

The 2008 is offered in only one model, a 1.6l five speed manual at R274 000. It isn’t cheap in comparison to its rivals, but the price premium of approx. R15 000 can be seen and felt though. The 2008 is available from May 2014 and comes standard with Peugeot’s Premium Customer Experience - a 5yr/60 000km maintenance plan. Ensuring better resale values, Peugeot has launched Peugeot Bid. The system guarantees higher trade-in value on your car when you sell it. Peugeot are also doing their very best to shake the negative stigma of not having spare parts available for their customers. They now have 91% of all parts available at any time and these parts are stored at head office and delivered to dealers daily. The Peugeot 208 also came out tops in the recent Kinsey Report, recording reasonably priced parts should you need spares.

There is now no excuse not to buy a Peugeot, and the 2008 is a great reason to get behind the wheel and feel that ‘je ne sais quoi’!

The Peugeot 2008 Minisite

 

 

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