It’s obvious that French marque Peugeot is eyeing young urbanites with its latest offering, the 2008 Urban SUV.
Yes, its name is a give-away where their target market is concerned but like the Bard said “A rose by any other name ... ” (you can Google the rest).
If you are completely ignorant and judge the 2008 by looks alone, then I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s already a winner.
Check out the creases on the hood, the elegant trapezoid floating grille with slats covered in chrome, the boomerang-shaped headlights, the chrome accents around the foglamps and side mirrors, it’s athletic stance. . . one could go on and on.
Actually, the 2008 is a winner, having garnered the European Car Of The Year 2014 by Italy’s Auto Europa, and Top SUV/Crossover Vehicle by Poland’s Golden Steering Wheel awards among others.
Incidentally, the 2008 was launched in Europe last May and Malaysians got a glimpse of it at the Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show 2013.
It’s finally reached our shores so that spells good news for those who are not only style-conscious about their rides, but want an abundance of cool features like a panoramic roof, Smart Park Assist (for side parking assistance without any fuss) and have safety in mind (six airbags and a five-star EuroNCAP Safety rating).
And it’s also competitively priced at just under RM120,000.
Nasim, the local Peugeot distributor, recently organised a drive for members of the media and we spent about half-a-day with the 2008 compact SUV.
We were able to test it along highways; crawling through city traffic; and traversing the old and windy roads which took us from Kuala Lumpur to Putrajaya and back.
It was a bright and sunny day and natural light just seeped into the cabin space thanks to the membrane-thin electric shutter.
With a flick of a switch located just next to the rather large aviation-style handbrake, you can pull the shutter back as much as you want or all the way to enjoy a sun-shiny drive.
I left the shutter on and instead adjusted the auto air-conditioning which comes in dual zone for the driver and passenger.
As soon as I sat on the semi bucket seat, which is a combination of leather and fabric on the driver’s side, I noticed how good the visibility was all round and that’s because it is positioned higher than normal.
I also had a very good view of the head up instrument panel (meaning you look over the steering wheel instead of through it) as well as the 7-inch colour touchscreen which displays all sorts of information and functions for radio, USB/Ipod connection, hands free Bluetooth, vehicle settings and even cruise control and speed limiter.
The dashboard is designed with soft touch textured material and if you get a sense of deja vu because its almost identical to the Peugeot 208 hatchback.
The difference being the leather-wrapped steering wheel is slightly slimmer on the 2008 along with the aviation handbrake design.
In fact, the 2008 shares the same platform with the 208.
The 2008 has a 1.6-litre Dual Variable Valve Lift (VTi) engine mated to an auto adaptive gearbox with Tiptronic and Sport mode and pushes out 122PS at 6,000rpm and maximum torque of 160Nm at 4,250rpm.
It’s easy to drive the 2008 as the steering is accurate, the suspension is just about right – neither too hard nor too soft.
It’s got good grip around corners with a slight hint of body roll.
The brakes have a good bite so you’re really confident driving it especially at high speeds.
And to make you feel even safer it’s got the aforementioned six airbags, an Electronic Stability Programme which includes anti-skid regulation, dynamic stability control, anti-lock braking system, emergency braking assistance and electronic brake force distribution.
Additional safety features include front and rear parking sensors with audio visual assistance, hill start assist, very high strength steel body structure, cornering assist fog lamp and two ISOFIX anchorage points at the rear.
It was noticeable though that the car is a tad under-powered climbing uphill and the naturally aspirated engine with a four-speed gearbox is noisy at higher engine revs.
My conclusion is that the 2008 is a cruiser, for those who like comfortable and leisurely drives while listening to the Arkamys 3D sound audio system with six speakers.
With 360 litres of boot space (and up to 1,194 litres with the back seats folded flat), it offers plenty of space to lug stuff around.
The 2008 is stylishly designed with plenty of practical functionality thrown into it and safety features that will make anybody glad.