Cairns Cars

The 2008 has received a little nip and tuck for 2018, but can the Peugeot make an impression in the fast-growing compact-SUV segment?

When the 2008 debuted in 2013, Peugeot was still the top dog among the French brands in Australia. It’s been smashed by Renault ever since. The compact SUV is indicative of how Peugeot has somehow fallen off many buyers’ radars.

Despite many competitive qualities (and a charming persona), the 2008 has struggled for a meaningful share of its ever-growing segment. Make that the fastest-growing segment for 2018, with a 25 per cent year-on-year increase.

While the 2008 was hindered initially by a compromised drivetrain line-up offering ill-matched engine and transmission combinations, a major 2017 update ditched them all for one effective petrol-auto pairing.

For 2018, there have been several minor tweaks. In January, autonomous emergency braking was added to the base (Active) model.

Peugeot’s infotainment interface has been tweaked with clearer graphics and the ability to use a three-finger prod gesture on the touchscreen to dial up a page featuring six large function buttons. (This change will be rolled out throughout the rest of the French brand’s range.)

There’s also a pricing adjustment. The mid-range Allure we’re testing here has dropped from $30,990 to $29,490, with a strong $30,990 drive-away deal offer currently in place. (The Active is $26,490 drive-away; the top-tier GT Line is $31,490 drive-away.)

A glass panoramic sunroof, previously a $1000 option, is also now standard on the Allure. However, for 2018 the variant has lost the City Park self-steering technology included before.

While the Allure is priced several thousand dollars above the Active, it adds a bundle of extra gear besides the fancy roof. The exterior gains auto headlights, cornering fog lights, follow-me-home lights, front sensors, and extended wheel arch flares.

Inside, the cabin gains LED roof lighting for the sunroof surround (plus sliding electric blind), dual-zone climate, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, front map-reading lights, and leather-trimmed handbrake. Navigation is added as a function for the 7.0-inch touchscreen system.

However, the mid-range Allure features GripControl – a system designed to enhance the front-wheel-drive 2008’s traction on slippery surfaces. GripControl is aligned with Goodyear Vector 4Season all-weather tyres, which aren’t so helpful for cabin noise – producing a fair din on coarse bitumen, even at urban speeds.

Conversely, the chubby 60-profile rubber provides an additional layer of cushioning for the suspension, which also proves across deep potholes that there’s some fairly generous travel. The 2008 isn’t perfectly pliant, though, making more of a fuss of bigger bumps.

At just under 4.2m long – shorter than a VW Golf – Peugeot’s smallest SUV feels enjoyably nimble when navigating tight city back streets and car parks. That’s aided by steering that is remarkably compact in size and twirls with a welcome lightness, while the seating position that’s higher than in the related 208 city car combines with a generous glass area to provide excellent all-round vision.

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