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Peugeot 2008 Active 2017 review: weekend test

Despite mini-SUVs being a relatively new invention, they've been embraced by new-car shoppers. All but the plucky Peugeot 2008, that is. So can Peugeot improve its fortunes with this updated model?

Remember the old Peugeot 2008? Nope? Don't be too hard on yourself - nobody else does, either. The old model, which launched back in 2013, simply didn't resonate with shoppers. But Peugeot is hoping this new 2017 model will change all that, succeeding where its predecessor failed despite entering a small SUV segment more congested with quality offerings than ever before.

My personal connection with Peugeot is born of having spent my childhood years getting chauffeured around in an old 505 - a large and sturdy sedan that had its bulletproof rigidity tested courtesy of two separate, and serious, car accidents. And while both incidents left little more than a scratch on the tough-as-nails Peugeot, its survival left a lasting impression on me.

For my weekend test I drove the entry-level Peugeot 2008 Active (priced at $26,490), a small and unusually proportioned SUV that looks about half the length of the 505. It sits a little high, while its well designed front and rear ends contrast a slightly awkward-looking side profile that will take some getting use to.

So is a hefty serving of French flair enough to help this 2008 mix it with the likes of the Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V?


I plonked myself in the driver's seat to be greeted by Peugeot's cool i-Cockpit with its instrument cluster that's placed high on the dash. The thinking here is to maintain the driver's field of vision by allowing you to look forward through the windscreen rather than down at the dials. To facilitate this unimpeded view the sports steering wheel is positioned lower than normal and does take some getting used to. Five minutes and numerous seat adjustments later and I was off.

Peugeot's i-Cockpit - positioning takes some getting use to. (Image credit: Dan Pugh) Peugeot's i-Cockpit - positioning takes some getting use to. (Image credit: Dan Pugh)

My son's football match kicked off at 10.30am and I grabbed the obligatory coffee and a water for him on the way. The 2008 has two small-sized cupholders up front (that barely fit anything bigger than takeaway cup, as is the way in most European cars) and pockets in the doors that will fit smaller-sized water bottles. Rear passengers have been largely forgotten about, though, with only a 12-volt power port to keep them company. Cup holders, air vents and armrest are nowhere to be seen.

Two cup small sized holders up front. (Image credit: Dan Pugh) Two cup small sized holders up front. (Image credit: Dan Pugh)

The seats in the Active are cloth and, for those riding upfront, provide surprising amounts of comfort. Rear seat space is reasonable and allows for three kids to sit snuggly in the back. With its narrow proportions (width of 1,829mm), the same can't be said for packing in three adults - something tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment in this car.

Rear passengers have a harder time of it the 2008. (Image credit: Dan Pugh) Rear passengers have a harder time of it the 2008. (Image credit: Dan Pugh)

Departing victorious from the football we headed on down to the nearby netball courts and prepared to do battle for parking. At 4,159mm long (170mm shorter than a Toyota Corolla hatch), the 2008 makes for a compact vehicle well suited to fitting into the tiniest of parking spaces. Rear parking sensors and a reversing camera come as standard on the Active and work in concert to make parking a doddle.

Reversing camera on the 7.0 inch touchscreen. (Image credit: Dan Pugh) Reversing camera on the 7.0 inch touchscreen. (Image credit: Dan Pugh)

The afternoon was spent hunting around for a Mother's Day present and ingredients for the Chocolate Apple Betty (don't ask...) I was tasked with whipping up the next day. This is where cars like the 2008 were born to roam, and bouncing around the city and its back streets the car quickly grew on me.

The odd oblong shaped steering wheel was nice to grip and the light steering inputs were met with a sharp response. Cabin noise was minimal and did nothing to detract from the tunes blaring out of the car's six-speaker stereo


A forced early morning start was required to undertake a junk run to the tip. The Active's payload for this mission would consist of left over Ikea furniture packaging and an old rug in dire need of incineration.

Boot space is a surprisingly generous 410 litres (versus the HR-V at 437 litres and the Qashqai at 430 litres) and with the 60/40-split rear seats down that number more than doubles to 917 litres (to the window line). With the seats folded down I loaded the junk and set off without drama.

Surprising amount of space in the boot. (Image credit: Dan Pugh) Surprising amount of space in the boot. (Image credit: Dan Pugh)

All 2008s are powered by the same 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine, developing 81kW and 205Nm of torque. Whilst it didn't throw my head back this engine was rock steady and well suited to the weekend's stop-start urban driving. On the open road the Active's engine really sings, with overtaking proving effortless at mid-range speeds. The Aisin six-speed transmission (used in the 308) was a gem and never once felt like it was hunting around for the right gear.

Thanks to my crack-of-dawn start I managed to unload the junk and depart the tip in record time. Taking in the modest surrounds of the cabin on the trip back you can't help notice the extensive amount of plastic combined with the smart use of textured materials.

Tackling a parallel park, I am again reminded of how over-eager the Stop & Start technology is on this car.

The new 7.0-inch touchscreen is simple to use and responds well to touch inputs. CarPlay and MirrorLink (Android Auto is some months away) come as standard with navigation an optional extra - unlikely to attract many takers at $1,500, especially given your phone's maps are integrated.

As far as safety goes the Active features a basic package that includes six airbags, ABS, plus stability and traction controls. Autonomous emergency braking features on the more expensive models.

Tackling a parallel park, I am again reminded of how over-eager the Stop & Start technology is on this car. The slightest hesitation or momentary pause in the midst of parking results in the engine cutting out. It's an annoying habit.

After a weekend's worth of city and urban driving the trip computer indicated 7.7L/100km compared to Peugeot's claimed 4.8L/100km on the combined cycle. What's more, it did all my little family asked of it. And it did it with ease.


In marketing the 2008, Peugeot urges potential buyers to 'Escape the City'. For mine, though, buyers are better off embracing inner-city life in the diminutive 2008. Its modest length and width make it ideal for darting (and parking) around city streets, which combine with its nimbleness and reasonable running costs to make the perfect urban runabout.

Have they solved the 2008's identity problem and produced a car to mix it with the likes of Mazda CX-3? Probably not. But this baby Peugeot is worthy of consideration if you're in the market for a chic city slicker.

Does the Peugeot 2008 tick all of your SUV boxes? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing guides

Based on 6 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
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Range and Specs

Active 1.2L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $11,700 – 17,160 2017 Peugeot 2008 2017 Active Pricing and Specs
Allure 1.6L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $14,600 – 20,570 2017 Peugeot 2008 2017 Allure Pricing and Specs
Outdoor 1.6L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN $17,300 – 24,090 2017 Peugeot 2008 2017 Outdoor Pricing and Specs
GT-Line 1.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $17,300 – 24,090 2017 Peugeot 2008 2017 GT-Line Pricing and Specs
Dan Pugh


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