Review

2020 Peugeot 2008 review: an eye-catching all-rounder – but is it worth the price?

3/5

The crowded – and ultra-competitive – market for SUV-style cars based on supermini hatchbacks is joined by this striking French contender

Peugeot 2008

Yes, it’s yet another small SUV – but before you stifle a yawn, hold your horses for a moment, because the Peugeot 2008 has the potential to be the best yet.

After all, it’s based on the Peugeot 208 supermini (the 2020 Car of the Year winner), as its name suggests, which just happens to be one of our favourite small hatchbacks of the moment. And not only do you get similarly sharp styling, but the 208’s interior – arguably its best feature – has been lifted almost wholesale for use in the 2008.

So what does that extra zero get you? Well, in short, it’s that tall SUV-like stance, which is all the rage these days; cars like this are popping up all over the shop, and while they were once a bit talentless on the whole, recent arrivals like the Renault Captur, Nissan Juke and Volkswagen T-Cross have all felt much more likeable.

We reckon the best of the lot at the moment is the new Ford Puma, with its clever boot cubby, engaging driving experience, and economical mild hybrid engines. So does the 2008 have what it takes to knock the Puma off top spot? Well, that’s what we’re here to work out – and don’t forget to register or login to find out our decisive verdict..

Pros: Stable, comfortable ride - Terrific engine - Stylish, spacious interior

Cons: Expensive to buy & own - Claustrophobic rear seats - Not as much fun to drive as the best

What’s under the skin?

It’ll probably come as no surprise to you to learn that, mechanically, the 2008 has much in common with the 208. The range of engines is slightly simpler, though, with just two petrol engines, both 1.2-litres producing 100bhp and 129bhp respectively, and a 1.5-litre diesel of 101bhp. There’s also a 134bhp battery electric version, with a WLTP-certified range of 206bhp. 

It’s the more powerful petrol engine that’s fitted to our test car, with the six-speed manual gearbox; an eight-speed automatic is an optional extra. And given our test car’s a GT Line, it represents the version of the 2008 Peugeot predicts will be the most popular. The good news is that the standard equipment list includes the sorts of kit you’d normally expect to find in a bigger, more luxurious car – to wit, heated front seats, a reversing camera, the larger, widescreen entertainment and navigation system, and ambient lighting. Of course, there’s a price to pay for all this finery – but we’ll come to that later. 

What’s it like day to day?

They might contrive to look tough, but cars like these are more normally faced with the rough and tumble of town traffic. Happily, in this sort of environment, the 2008 is very much at home; light steering and pedals that provide plenty of feel make it a doddle to drive. 

Three-cylinder engines like the one fitted to the 2008 are often noted for their thrummy warble, and this one is no exception. Thankfully, it’s well muted, which makes this an endearing dose of character rather than a perpetual nuisance. And when you get the 2008 up to speed, you find wind and road noise are similarly well controlled.

Together with the smooth ride and surprisingly good stability – which lend it the impression of a far larger car – all of this makes the 2008 a great motorway car; one in which you can while away post-lockdown trips to the seaside with ease. 

Around town, the ride is a touch more wooden, but only just; sharp ruts elicit minor jolts, but you soon get used to these, and that layer of firmness means the 2008 doesn’t float or wallow queasily about the place. 

The 2008 is a great place to be, too. As we’ve already mentioned, the interior is beautifully styled, and in this high-spec model, you get cool ambient lighting, an incredibly stylish binnacle with dials that seem to float in thin air, thanks to some clever optical trickery, and swish metal buttons. 

As with other Peugeots, though, the infotainment system isn’t the best, with slightly fiddly menu systems and sluggish responses. 

Will it fit into your life? 

Cars like these are sometimes derided as unnecessary, but they do have a place: combining family car space with a footprint barely any bigger than that of a small hatchback. In that regard, the 2008 excels – it’s just 25cm longer than the 208 on which it’s based, so parking it is a breeze. 

Inside, however, there’s quite a bit more room, with a much larger boot and more spacious back seats. That said, the 2008 is a little way from the best in its class here; rivals like the Captur and Honda HR-V offer clever sliding or folding rear seats, while the Puma offers a natty storage locker below the boot floor. 

Granted, the 2008 gives you a flip-up boot floor with a sliver of extra space beneath, but its boot is neither as clever nor as capacious as its rivals, and the rear seats, with their narrow windows, low seating position and tight elbow space, feel rather dark and claustrophobic.

How much will it set you back?

Here’s the rub. Put simply, the biggest problem with the 2008 is that it doesn’t come cheap. This high-spec version looks especially pricey in isolation, but even compared with its rivals it’s an eye-wateringly expensive option, costing considerably more than the equivalent T-Cross, and more even than the most powerful, top-of-the-range mild hybrid Puma.

That might be forgivable if you made some of that money back come resale time, but you won’t – in fact, in cash terms, you’re predicted to lose more on the 2008 than any of its rivals. And that, in turn, makes finance deals comparatively costly. Granted, the 2008 is pretty frugal on fuel – but unless you drive many miles each year, that won’t be enough to fully mitigate the high price.   Is it fun to drive?

The real star of the 2008 show is its engine. The little 1.2-litre in this form feels far more muscular than its output would suggest; there’s a tonne of punch from low down, so away from the traffic lights it feels perky and up-for-it. 

However, even better news is that it doesn’t run out of puff as the speed builds, unlike some of these smaller engines. Even on the motorway, the 2008 feels gutsy and responsive, so accelerating to pull out into the fast lane is never a chore. 

Away from the motorway, few 2008s will get thrown around with abandon, but should you choose to do so, you’ll be reasonably pleased with what you find. The front end changes direction cleanly and quickly, and while the steering is a little artificial and light at slow speeds, it feels direct, which inspires confidence. 

As, indeed, does the amount of grip on offer, so that while the 2008 does lean over a little in corners, it always feels composed, and actually turns out to be more entertaining than you might expect. And when you aren’t trying to be a hooligan, the 2008’s crisp handling means it always feels responsive and nimble, so nipping around obstacles and sneaking into gaps around town feels rewarding, rather than arduous. 

For all that, though, the Puma is the king of entertaining driving experiences in this class, so if you like to have a bit of fun when you’ve got the car to yourself, that makes it a better choice. 

Does it have the feel-good factor?

From the outside, the 2008 is one of the more attractive of these small SUVs, and you get your pick of bold colour schemes. That said, there’s nothing here that makes you fall in love with it, and it doesn’t have quite the same sense of style or fashion as, say, the Fiat 500X or Mini Countryman. 

Things improve once you climb aboard, though – that lovely interior makes you feel like you’re in a stylish bar, rather than a family-friendly SUV. And the more you drive the 2008, the more you appreciate its easy-going nature, comfort and that willing little engine.

So while it probably isn’t a car you’ll fall in love with immediately, it is something of a grower; the more time you spend with it, the more you’ll come to like what it has to offer. 

The Telegraph verdict

The real issue with the 2008 is how much it costs, either to buy or to finance. Which is a shame, because in this form, the 2008 is a great car to drive, buoyed up by a terrific engine, enjoyable – if not truly enthralling – handling, and a comfortable, composed way of dealing with lumps and bumps in the road. 

You also get a glossy interior filled with all the toys you could ever wish for. And while the rear seats and boots aren’t quite as roomy as the best of its rivals, you probably won’t find them cramped either. 

If its list price was a little lower, it’d be a much more recommendable prospect; as it is, there are plenty of rivals that cost considerably less, yet offer just as many talents – some even more so.

Telegraph rating: Three out of five

The facts

On test: Peugeot 2008 1.2 PureTech 130 GT Line

How much? £26,180 on the road

How fast? 122mph, 0-62mph in 8.9sec

How economical? 50.6-43.7mpg (WLTP Combined)

Engine/gearbox: 1,199cc four-cylinder petrol engine, 129bhp, six-speed manual gearbox, front-wheel drive

The electric bits: N/A

Electric range: N/A

CO2 emissions: 132-146g/km (WLTP Combined)

VED: £215 first year, then £145/year

Warranty: 3 years / unlimited miles (third year limited to 60,000 miles)

Boot size: 434 litres

Spare wheel as standard: Yes

The rivals

Ford Puma 1.0 EcoBoost Hybrid 155 ST-Line X 153bhp, 50.4mpg, £23,770 on the road

Its looks aren’t to everyone’s tastes, but the Puma has more than enough talent to make up for that. It’s a terrific family car with a clever boot and plenty of space, for starters, but its real trump card is how good it is to drive. Outstanding fuel efficiency from this potent mild hybrid version and excellent value only make it even more tempting. 

Renault Captur 1.0 TCe 130 S Edition 128bhp, 44.1mpg, £22,695 on the road

Like the 2008, this Captur has a willing little three-cylinder engine and a smart interior, but its more spacious rear seats slide forward and backward, and the boot is bigger, making it a more versatile alternative. Shame it isn’t as nice to drive, but you might live with that for the cost saving. 

Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0 TSI 115 R-Line 113bhp, 45.6mpg, £24,970 on the road

It’s a bit frumpy, but there’s a reason for that: the T-Cross’s boxy shape makes it spacious inside and extremely practical. The dour interior lets it down, and in this company the engine feels a little breathless by comparison, but otherwise this is a solid, sensible choice. It isn’t all that much fun, mind you.

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