Suzuki S-Cross 2014 review
From 4WD specialist Suzuki comes yet another entrant in the increasingly crowded crossover SUV market in Australia.
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Peugeot's Australian model expansion has continued with the launch of its new 2008 small SUV. The third member of the French car maker's SUV range, it joins the small-medium 3008 and mid-sized 4008 in the '00' SUV brigade.
Based on the Peugeot 208 hatchback the 2008 becomes the latest entrant into a new category called sub-compact SUVs alongside vehicles such as the Suzuki SX4, Mini Countryman, Holden Trax and the upcoming Ford EcoSport, Nissan Juke and Renault Captur. This new market segment is rapidly becoming very crowded.
Around two-thirds of 2008's components are shared with the 208 hatch but with 200 mm extra length, 96 mm more height and 25 mm greater ground clearance that give it a bulkier look, more interior space and higher driving position but no off-road credentials.
Like most of the others in this urban-focussed market segment the 2008 only comes with two-wheel drive. Extra grip is available in the top-specced Outdoor model which comes with a Grip Control package so it will have some dirt track ability.
Styling is neat and attractive although we're disappointed that the large open-mouthed hatched grille that has been a feature of recent Peugeot models has been replaced by a smaller, more conservative two-bar 'floating' grille.
Peugeot 2008 comes with the choice of three engines. There's a three-cylinder 1.2-litre petrol, and four-cylinder 1.6-litre petrol and 1.6-litre turbo-diesel, variously applied for three equipment levels -- Active, Allure and Outdoor.
The Active is available with either of the two petrol engines, the 1.2-litre only with a five-speed manual gearbox; the 1.6 only with four-speed auto; the Allure gets the 1.6-litre engine with either transmission; while the top-of-the-range Outdoor is diesel / manual only.
Interior space is acceptable but best suited to couples with pre-teen children rather than four adults – but that's the case for any small hatch or SUV so hardly a criticism.
Boot space is a reasonable 410 litres with the rear seatbacks in place, expanding to 1400 litres with the backs folded flat. There are plenty of anchor points as well as retaining connectors and a cargo net.
Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth telephone and audio streaming and USB socket, six airbags, reversing camera, rear parking sensors, front and rear fog lights and roof rails, LED daytime running lights, hill assist (only with the 1.6-litre engine),.
The mid-specced Allure adds leather trim, heated front seats, satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control air conditioning, automatic wipers and full-length glass roof with a retractable opaque sunblind.
As the name applies the Peugeot 2008 Outdoor is aimed at those who want the occasional escape from the city. In addition to the extra torque from the diesel engine the biggest appeal will be Peugeot's Grip Control traction control system which provides three additional modes called Snow, Mud and Sand as well as the option of turning off the ESP system. It also gets larger (17-inch) alloys and an engine stop-start feature.
One surprising omission from all variants is grab handles. While it's relatively common for them not to fitted above the driver's door to have none at all is a bit puzzling.
We were able to test all model variants on both road and track as well as trying out the various Grip Control settings on a skid pan. While the difference between the three modes wasn't noticeable they were certainly missed when we did a lap with ESP turned off altogether. Out on the open road the Outdoor diesel was our clear favourite. With 68 kW of power and a useful 230 Nm of torque it handled the infrequent hilly terrain with ease.
The performance of the little three-cylinder 1.2-litre petrol engine was surprisingly good despite its modest 60 kW and 118 Nm although again we need to point out that the road conditions were almost entirely flat. However because we needed to keep the engine up around 4000 rpm fuel consumption suffered with us recording around 8.5 litres per 100 kilometres, way above the published combined cycle figure of 4.9 L/100km. So clearly it's best suited to an urban environment.
The 1.6-litre petrol, with 88 kW and 160 Nm, is the most refined of the three engines and the only option if you want an automatic transmission. Even then it's out of synch with current expectations in only having four ratios. Handling has always been a Peugeot strong point and although the 2008 is no sports car it clings to the road surprisingly well without any loss in comfort.
One feature we did love was the small racecar-style steering wheel which not only added to the 2008's driving enjoyment but also afforded a clear view of the high-mounted instrument panel. There's also a large aircraft-style hand brake which looks funky enough but doesn't seem especially functional.
With the mini SUV segment set to take off the Peugeot 2008 has arrived at the right time and with its neat appearance, good engine options and sharp pricing should grab plenty of early sales ahead of the competition that is looming just over the horizon.
|Active||1.6L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO||$6,500 – 10,010||2013 Peugeot 2008 2013 Active Pricing and Specs|
|Allure||1.6L, PULP, 5 SP MAN||$9,400 – 14,190||2013 Peugeot 2008 2013 Allure Pricing and Specs|
|Outdoor||1.6L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN||$11,000 – 16,170||2013 Peugeot 2008 2013 Outdoor Pricing and Specs|