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First Drive 2013 Peugeot 2008 Crossover By Henny Hemmes

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By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

RIBEAUVILLÉ, France. May 28, 2013. Peugeot has just launched its brand new 2008, a crossover that seats five. The moment is not ideal for the introduction of a new model, but that problem is not only Peugeot’s. Even though the French brand, part of the PSA Group, has to deal with considerable financial problems as well as decreasing sales on the European market, it has high hopes for the successor of the 207 SW.

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The 2008 Crossover is built on the platform of the 208, that was introduced last year, and also shares 65 per cent of the parts with the popular hatchback. The French manufacturer plans to build 200,000 units of the 2008 in 2014: half of the amount in France for European and world markets except South America and China. The production of the new model will start in Wuhan in China in 2014 and in the Brazilian plant in Porto Real in 2015.

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With a much more dynamic styling than its predecessor, the 2008 will undoubtedly get the interest of buyers who are shopping in the fastest growing (B-) segment in the world.

A younger look has been achieved by playful lines, such as those of the head lamps and different chrome details.

The roof line attracts the attention, because it moves upwards from the B-pillar to the rear. Originally, it was intended as a comfort feature for the rear passengers by offering a higher door opening for better in- and egress. But during the development process the engineers dealt with this by enabling the rear seats to be placed in a lower position. This resulted a very upright position for the rear passengers.

Because of the different look, it was decided to maintain the upward line for the roof, that also has a design that is lower in the middle. Peugeot design director Gilles Vidal calls it a double bubble, but that is a somewhat exaggerated and probably joyful French interpretation. Double bubbles run from the side to the middle of the roof to offer more head room for the driver and co-driver in low slung sports cars. But no problem, the design statement has been made!

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Also in the interior, design makes its mark. Upon starting the engine, you cannot ignore the blue led-lighted rings around the odometer and the rev counter. For those who do not like it, fortunately the color can be changed!

On the inside of the Allure variant, even the roof has been treated with led lights that shines through the roof liner.

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Whether the current 207 SW customer will appreciate this, remains to be seen, but I can imagine there will be young buyers, or those new to the brand, who will love it. In any case, the interior of the 2008 looks clean and tidy and also refers to the Peugeot 208. Noticeable is the 7-inch touch screen control for navigation and audio.

However, the position of the instrument panel formed was called into question after the first leg of our test drive. Especially the not so tall drivers – including myself – found the IP partly hidden behind the steering wheel. Changing its position did not bring much, but for me, bringing the seat to its maximum height, made the gauges just visible. Probably you get used to the high position….

With a 100 inch wheelbase it should seat five, provided the persons on the rear seats are not too tall.

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With the touch of a button, the rear seats fold down 60:40, and the luggage space is enlarged from 12.71 cubic-feet to 42.16 cu-ft, of which 0.77 cu-ft is hidden under the floor.

Both in- and exterior can be customized. The trendy colors for interior details include orange and bright pink and can be applied to small parts or details such as vents, sun visors or the trim of the center console. On the outside, there are many color possibilities for roof bars, mirror casings, decoration on the rear door and wheel hubs.

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Peugeot has achieved considerable weight reduction: the 2008 weighs 229 pounds less than the 207 SW, that it replaces. But the higher stance cancels that out somewhat and it also generates body lean in the corners.

The crossover’s has electric power steering that is somewhat vague going straight, but makes the car easy maneuverable in the city.

The 2008 has front-wheel drive, but the more expensive Allure variant come with Grip Control, which Peugeot introduced on the 3008 and somewhat comparable to an electronic limited slip differential. It transfers torque to the wheel with the most grip. The dial in the center console offers three modes: Snow, Off-road, Sand - or ESP off.

In order to prove how well it works, the engineers more or less lured us on to a slippery off-road course, that even had a deep pond filled with water. Well, we kept our feet dry, as the Grip Control proved to be impressive. The system comes standard with all-weather tires.

The 2008 is available with the new 82 hp 1.2 VTi 3-cylinder petrol engine, the 1.6 VTi petrol 4-cylinder with 120 hp and the 1.6 HDi diesel engine with either 92 hp or 115 hp.

Our first leg of the test drive happened to be 1.6 VTi. On the motorway, the 4-cylinder is a bit noisy, so a 6-speed gearbox would help. On the winding roads through the rolling hills of the Alsace region in eastern France, the 2008 does not exactly offer your most dynamic ride. With its torque reached at higher revs, you need to shift actively and even then, the 4-cylinder often lack the power to make the car do what you want. In 2014, this engine will be replaced by two turbocharged variants of the 80 hp 1.2-liter 3-cylinder, that we also drove. It is lively and the 5-speed gearbox is a good match with well spaced ratios.

Didn’t Peugeot already say the 2008 is a urban crossover…? Well it will definitely feel most at home in urban areas, thanks to its compact size, higher seating position.

Customers living in the mountains, would probably chose the 1.6-liter HDi diesel unit, of which the torque of 170 lb-ft is reached at 1,750 rpm. Especially the 115 hp variant, which is teamed to a six-speed gearbox, is flexible and quick.

The 2008 is also available with Park Assist and has standard cruise control.

In a nut shell: the 2008 is very nice looking inside and out. It is also a practical car, all-round indeed, with a nice build quality. But the driving dynamics are what I would call ‘ten a penny’.