Being early doesn’t always pay off. You may recall the original Peugeot 2008, which held the title of becoming the first B-segment SUV to be marketed in Malaysia (discounting, of course, the Mitsubishi ASX based on a C-segment platform). It may have started the trend, but it – and its successor, the Ford EcoSport – hardly made an impact in the market even before Honda HR-V swept the country.
For years after that, the Japanese wunderkind ruled dominant, destroying not only existing rivals but even newer ones (I’m looking at you, Mazda CX-3 and Toyota C-HR). Even a helpful redesign – which included a new turbocharged engine and a new gearbox – couldn’t save the 2008 from oblivion.
The problem with dominance is that it never lasts. Proton’s partnership with Geely allowed them to quickly bring two new SUVs to market, and the attractively priced X50 and X70 quickly dethroned the out-of-date HR-V. Honda must now compete with the rest of the market for the leftover crossover pie, and there are plenty of rivals these days.
This is where the new 2008 fits into the evened-out market area. This second-generation Gallic soft-roader debuts in Malaysia with a renewed sense of hope, supported by a new distributor with a track record. It certainly looks the part, but does it have enough substance to match the sleek new attire? To discover out, we bring the newcomer for a test drive.
2022 Peugeot SUV – New Start, New Distributor
First, some background information. Following generations of Naza management, Bermaz is now in charge of the Peugeot brand in Malaysia. The French brand had some popularity in the late 2000s and early 2010s, but its image has been tainted by a lack of reliability and customer service.
Bermaz has a good track record of selling and maintaining Mazda vehicles, but it remained to be seen whether it’ll be able to erase memories of poor service and long wait periods for spare parts — as well as resolve any long-term mechanical issues. However, the corporation has admitted prior flaws and is attempting to placate customers, that’s always a good prospect.
According to Peugeot’s parent company Stellantis, the 2008 has been subjected to 200,000 kilometers of durability and quality testing. It then currently completely owns the Naza-built assembly factory in Gurun, Kedah, where this attractive crossover is produced.
In a class that is becoming increasingly competitive, this is a great purchase.
Finally, there’s the automobile itself, which was released last month for RM126,753. That’s a fair price for a turbocharged crossover, given it’s a couple of thousand ringgit less than the top-of-the-line Toyota Corolla Cross petrol although that car is usefully larger than the Peugeot.
As a result, 2008 makes a farce of the also-NA Hyundai Kona, which, when properly equipped, costs a whole RM10,000 more, not to mention the exorbitant turbo versions. Of course, there are 2 elephants in the room: the dominant X50 and X70, which give even more for less money, particularly in the case of the X50. Being a foreign player in our market has its drawbacks.
2008 is 34 mm shorter, two millimeters narrower, and 55 mm lower than the now seven-year-old HR-V, measuring 4,300 mm long, 1,770 mm wide, and 1,550 mm tall, putting it on the smaller end of the B-segment crossover market. That makes it thinner than the X50 (which is nearly similar to the Honda in every measurement except width), despite the fact that it’s 2,605 mm wheelbase equally divides the two.
Styles With a Lot of Personalities Get a Lot of Attention
Despite this, the Peugeot’s exterior style gives it a lot of street presence, especially because of the aggressively aggressive front fascia. The car’s “three-claw” LED daytime running lights, which culminate in an illuminated slash that spans the length of the bumper, give it a KISS vibe, while the huge grille with its network of chrome “dashes” and 2008 emblem provide lots of welcome jewelry.
The absence of fog lights on Malaysian-spec cars is regrettable, with contrite tiny slats attempting a bad approximation of air intakes taking their place in the bumper. Nonetheless, this is a very appealing machine from the front, and the interplay of slashes all alongside of the car maintains this.
The 2008 has a lengthy wheelbase for its size, which drives the wheels to the corners for a muscular stance, even if the 17-inch two-tone wheels are a touch on the tiny side, despite their attractiveness. Although the effect is disguised by the Nera Black paint on this vehicle model, the blacked-out C-pillars create an in-vogue “floating roof” aspect. Roof rails are also included for that classic off-roader style.
The muscular haunches at the back lead into to the slim full-LED taillights, which carry the “three-claw” lighting signature once again. The spaced-out Peugeot script that is all the rage these days is held by the black tailgate bar (again, covered by the paint), while the chrome bar on the black bumper is suggestive of the bigger 3008. But it’s a shame the tailpipes are such little pea shooters. Ultimately, nevertheless, this is a fantastic vehicle.
One good aspect is proximity locking and unlocking, which eliminates the need to engage with controls or touch surfaces on the door handles, which is a real nuisance. This is a feature Honda first introduced with both the FC Civic in 2016 and has just lately begun to show on BMWs costing twice as much, so it’s good to see it on a vehicle this affordable.
It works perfectly, except when you stand too close to 2008 because too long and it locked you out. This needs you to either use the key’s buttons or drive away from the car and back, the latter of which makes you look like a jerk. When the car locks up, it also makes a cheap-sounding beep, but it’s loud enough to hear so you don’t must double back to check.
The 2022 Peugeot 2008 SUV Interior Is Luxurious, With a Unique French Flair
The Peugeot’s cabin, as always, is the true show-stopper, oozing class, refinement, and quirky French style and ergonomics. The dashboard sweeps into the doors, constructed of soft-touch plastics (partially imprinted with a strange pseudo-carbon-fiber pattern) and sparingly adorned with ridiculously priced and sensation silvered trim.
Although the fairly steep beltline and tall tail mean rearward visibility is nearly non-existent, you sit high on the sumptuous leather seat, giving you a dominating view out the front glass. The good news is that, despite its low resolution, the reverse camera includes a spectacular view that extends the front feed along the sides of the vehicle as you back up, giving you some of the capability of a 360º camera system.
The Peugeot i-Cockpit instrument cluster is positioned above (and partially obscured by) the compact two-spoke steering wheel directly in front of the driver, continuing to surprise and mystify in equal measure. The latest version includes a ten-inch customizable display and an additional screen hidden in the hood of the cluster that is mirrored by a lens to create a spectacular three-dimensional appearance for the speed reading, gauges, and vehicle data. It’s so fantastic that it almost takes your mind off the road.
However, not all of it is perfect: Peugeot insisted on using showy but time-consuming animation about every touch, so pop-up information took a long time to appear. The seven-inch touchscreen, which juts out forcefully over to you and occasionally functions a little slow, once packed up totally throughout my time with the car, exhibits the same tendency.
The user interface is also lacking, with options and settings strewn about the place for you to find. Worse, as with many current Peugeots, the climate control hard buttons have been mostly deleted. Although some functions are mapped to the beautiful mechanical buttons on the center console, the fan’s power and temp settings are buried in the touchscreen, rather than the other way around (as it should be). But, hey, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included as standard, right?
Rear Seats Are Modest, but Active Safety Is Outstanding
Most customers would be unhappy to learn that the three standard features for cars in this market in The region – power-adjustable rear seats, rear air-conditioning vents, and rear USB ports – are notably absent here, albeit a central front armrest is included. On the plus side, the 2008’s long wheelbase provides adequate rear legroom, but it isn’t quite as good as the HR-V’s. The back seat squab, on the other hand, rises at an angle, making the seating posture less than ideal.
A 405-liter boot is hidden beneath the (unfortunately non-powered) tailgate, dwarfing the X50’s 330 liters and nearly matching the HR-V. However, a little load lip makes loading a hassle, and unlike the Proton, the baggage shelf does not lift up once you open the tailgate, but you’ll have to do it manually. In addition, our unit’s tailgate rattled due to a loose bolt, which doesn’t exactly inspire trust in the car’s construction quality.
The introduction of active safety systems – making its first comeback because the 2nd 308 was debuted in Malaysia in 2015 – signifies a massive leap of Peugeot in Malaysia in terms of safety. This immediately elevates the car’s appeal, especially in light of the growing variety of driver assistance options on offer.
Blind-spot detection and lane assist are still available and work well, but the latter can be confused by the poorly painted lane markers that abound on Malaysian highways, which nearly drove me into the wall once. Six airbags, stability control, and Adjustable child seat mounts are also standard, as are the full-LED headlights’ outstanding automatic high beams.
New Bones and a More Powerful Powertrain
The 2008 is based on Stellantis’ most common Version Flexible Platform (CMP) platform. This may not imply much in the local context right now, but consider that its close relatives, the Opel Mokka and Citroen C4, have been observed in the area undergoing testing. The business hopes to reintroduce the Opel and Citroen brands in Malaysia by developing these cars on a single platform, which will provide efficiencies of scale that will allow the group to construct the vehicles here. It’s going to be an exciting time.
The 2008 is powered by a 1.2-liter PureTech turbocharged three-cylinder engine that debuted in the previous-generation model’s makeover. Peugeot has tweaked the engine over the last five years to add 18 PS and 15 Nm of torque, for a total of 130 PS at 5,500 rpm and 230 Nm at 1,750 pm.
The power output isn’t very impressive, but the performance output is impressive, coming close to approaching the newer Honda Civic and surpassing the MPI model of the X50. It’s no wonder, then, that 2008 is quick and strong, especially in the middle of the engine speed range, in which it pulls with deadly ease – at only until it runs out of gas at the redline.
But only once it has gotten up to speed. The three-pot feels tritely dead at lower revs, and you have to have it past 1,500 rpm to feel any forward propulsion. In cutthroat Malaysia traffic, it’s slowly enough from a stop to becoming an irritation, especially when throngs of greedy drivers are waiting at the moment to break the line-up in front of you.
The Enjoyment Is Spoiled by a Sluggish Carryover Gearbox
This wouldn’t have been a problem if the gearbox was quick enough just to deal around this one, which is what the Aisin six-speed automatic isn’t. Thus every stab of the throttle outcomes in a second or so of response time as the vehicle clumsily rearranges into a lower percentage before launching you forward with a burst of unplanned torque. As you might expect, this tends to make smooth low-speed driving difficult.
You can experiment with manual mode by moving the gear-lever to the right, as there are no steering wheel paddles, and while the sequential shifter is set up like a race car (pull to shift up, move to shift down), the gearbox upshifts automatically well before top speed, reducing the quality of the manual mode. Approved, most car owners will just put it in “D,” but it’s something you should be aware of.
That’s a shame because the engine and transmission combo provides a seamless experience driving experience elsewhere. With the exception of some vibration when considering starting and decelerating, the PureTech mill lacks the trademark three-pot judder; this, especially in combination with the fast and lamp steering and the slug of semi torque, helps give 2008 an easy-going demeanor that’s also quite enjoyable on the right road.
Excellent Dynamics, but a Wild Ride
For the class, refinement is about average. The engine makes its presence known with a Kancil-on-steroids either a that rises to an interactive straight-six-like whine before the redline but settles down at cruising speed. At speeds above 110 km/h, there’s also some wheel roar on hard surfaces and a slight humming noise around the A-pillars, but it’s not particularly bothersome.
But it’s in the nooks and crannies that 2008 feels safe. The razor-sharp steering, which starts out light but gradually gains weight as you wind the lock, makes this an enjoyable vehicle to chuck into a bend. The taut chassis helps, allowing users to carve a sharp line through the apex without even being troubled by mid-corner bumps. Considering the absence of all-wheel drive, there isn’t much body roll to speak of, and the grip is adequate.
The trip is, of fact, the trade-off. While the dampers can smooth out the major bumps and undulations in the manner of a typical European big car, 2008 is stiffly sprung and uses a torsion beam at the front, so every surface imperfection will be felt. This is true, especially on local streets, where the Peugeot seems like that wants to shock you out of your seat due to the poorly patched-up pavement.
The ride reminds me of Hafriz’s old 208 GTi, which I noticed was quite pleasant for a hatchback. However, this is a tiny family crossover with a very separate key demographic – and 2008 falls well short in that regard. Remember that the majority of purchasers in this age group will be reaching middle age and will most likely object to having their fillings rattled out.
Conclusion: We’re Only Just Few Inches Away From Greatness
As a result, driving 2008 looks a little forced and a little frustrating, because underneath it is a fantastic car patiently waiting to be released, held back by very few minor imperfections. They’d have a real winner on their hands if the engineers had tweaked it further in either direction — either easing the ride and surrendering mid-range punch for low-end flexibility, or giving this fast SUV the modern transmission it so desperately needs.
In its current form, 2008 is a competent convertible that could use some refining. But, because to its bundles of style and panache, this is still a fun car to drive. During in the Chinese New Year holidays, everyone I showed it to was taken away by just how good-looking it was – particularly the sleek rear end as well as the eye-catching 3-dimensional instrument cluster – and couldn’t care less about the firm ride.
This is a car with few parallels in terms of showroom attractiveness – and that’s before you factor in the really attractive cost. Undoubtedly, Bermaz has its work cut out for it in terms of repairing the Peugeot brand’s image among Malaysians, and there are still concerns about construction durability and excellent dependability, however, 2008 is evidence that even a little verve, as well as a lot of visually dazzling, can go a long way.