(Pocket-lint) - It's fair to say that the previous Peugeot 2008 wasn't the prettiest car on the road. In modern terms - where everyone wants an SUV - the 2013 design looks decidedly dated.
Fortunately, Peugeot has radically redesigned the 2008 with much more emphasis on the SUV part of the name, moving this on from the evolution of the 207 SW that the previous model was.
It's done a good job too, because this Peugeot 2008 could be exactly what's needed to shake up the compact SUV segment, a little more unique than the masse of German models on the road.
Designed for the future
With the crossover segment exploding, mini SUV looks are top of the list for many people. There's no shortage of models that Peugeot is set to compete with in this segment with the likes of the Nissan Juke or VW T-Cross offering plenty of appeal, but what this redesign might do is catch the attention of those who'd previously overlooked the brand.
It follows the line of the (huge) 5008 and (mid-sized) 3008 and you can see the family design, but the 2008 pulls it off a little better because it's not trying to be the size of a house. That brings some proportionality to it, i.e., it looks a little more like a toy car - and everyone loves that.
It's also fairly futuristic and that's reflected in the powertrain. That's right, there's an electric version of the 2008, and that version is available with pretty much all the same design and trim options as the petrol or diesel models. It's the same, but different.
The overall result here is that you get a spacious interior, with ample room in the rear - as an adult over 6ft it was comfortable enough - while there's appreciable boot space too at 434 litres. It's not quite as large as we'd like for the dog and the artificial floor in the boot doesn't help things, although that makes it a flat bed and eliminates the lip, which some people prefer for easier loading.
So it's all good then?
The interior of the Peugeot 2008 SUV in the GT Line trim (which Peugeot thinks will be the most popular) is suitably futuristic too. Yes, there's fairly heavy use of plastics around the interior, but in many cases it's been designed to be more interesting than many rivals. This is so often the hallmark of these French cars, often in stark contrast to the seriousness of some of the German brands.
There's sculpturing that you don't always find at this level of car and in this trim, the textured effect that looks a little like carbonfibre weave adds a lift to things, along with sporty green stitching. So too does the array of capacitive buttons and switches that are fashioned into a sort of shelf, rather than just being flat buttons to stab with a fingertip in the centre console.
But Peugeot's interior design might not be for everyone, thanks to the low, small, steering wheel position. This is something that's common across the range and if you've driven a recent Peugeot and have no problem with it, then fine. If you're more used to a conventional layout, you might want to get into this car and move yourself up and down in the driver's seat a bit to see if you can actually see the driver's display panel.
Because you might find that the top of the steering wheel always sits in front of your view of the digital driver display no matter what you do - and that's a slight downside, because it's a great display.
A digital display comes on all trim levels, with an enhanced 3D version on higher trims - and the effect is actually very nice, if you can see it. It lets you change through default views, as well as customise the visuals to your preference, via the central touchscreen.
There are quality leather touch points around the car and things neatly fall to hand, so this is an easy car to get on with - apart from the cruise control stalk, which is entire invisible behind the steering wheel. You'll have to operate that by touch, so make sure you learn where everything is before you set off driving.
A welcome array of technology
High on most driver's list now is technology so that there's a seamless integration of car and digital life. As we've all become addicted to the convenience of smartphones, we don't want to be thrown into the dark ages when we get in the car.
The Peugeot 2008 SUV gives you Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard, so you can connect your phone can dive right into that experience. But it sits on a fairly solid tech offering, with a satnav system that it actually works well, with clear directions and instructions. There's live traffic from TomTom - part of an ongoing subscription - which works well too.
You're not overwhelmed with functionality here; unlike some systems, Peugeot isn't trying to reinvent everything itself and the chances are that you'll connect your phone and use that for your streaming music and other apps. There's the option for a Qi wireless charging plate, but we'd rather plug in - it charges faster and gives you more options.
There are two central display sizes based on the trim that you choose, with a 7-inch central display on the Active and Allure trims, moving up to 10-inch on the GT-Line and GT. Bigger is better in our minds, but the most important thing here is that there's a small lip below the display which gives you somewhere to rest your hand when using it. That makes it more convenient on bumpy roads and more comfortable to use.
The touchscreen is used for many controls, including the climate control and that can mean a little more fiddling around than you might want to do, just to turn the temperature down. But, it's intuitive enough.
The interior tech is supported by the option for a Focal sound system (on GT Line and GT), although opting for that means you lose your spare wheel space. Having cranked the volume up, it is a great sound system if you tick that £590 option box.
Driving and performance
As we said, there will be a 50kW electric version of the 2008 available in the very near future - good for 208 miles according to Peugeot's stats - and you can pre-order that now. We've not driven it, so we'll stick to the petrols and diesel that we have driven and update for the electric once we get our hands on it. The BEV version is some £8750 more expensive than the ICE versions, a price you'll have to offset against your fuel savings and conscience - which it a little pricey compared to the Kia e-Niro, which is a similar price but with about 100 more miles range.
We say diesel above, because there's only one diesel option, and that's a 1.5-litre 6-speed manual. You can't get it paired with Peugeot's automatic box, so it's manual or nothing - and Peugeot doesn't expect this to be a big seller, with trends moving towards petrol.
This little diesel is nice to drive though and the manual gearbox is very forgiving too, with a nice light clutch. There's no hill hold, however, so this isn't as lazy a drive as some manual models, but thanks to the lightness of the clutch it's still a breeze. We found we were averaging easily over 50MPG on our test drives, so if you set it on the motorway and drive sensibly you'll likely do better.
Switch to the petrols and you have more choices, although all are based around the same 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine. The 8-speed automatic is again nice and smooth and if you're the sort of person who does a lot of stop-start driving it will have immediate appeal, although we'd probably opt for the manual because it's £1850 cheaper; there's one exception which is the 155HP engine, which only comes with the automatic, but most people will opt for the 130 manual, according to Peugeot.
The Peugeot 2008 SUV is actually very nice to drive. It's responsive in the steering and doesn't roll around too much in the corners. Yes, that means it's slightly firmer than some SUVs, so you might feel a few more bumps - opting for smaller wheels might spoil the looks, but it'll make for a nicer drive.
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Despite the sporty looks this is front wheel drive only, but Peugeot does have a Grip Control option that you might be able to offer for.
With masses of SUV crossovers appearing, it's great that the Peugeot offers something a little different when it comes to design. It's also a nice drive overall, so certainly a car to consider if you're looking for something that's good-looking, practical and covers the essential tech bases too - right down to the entry level.
But much of the story will be about the electric version of this car. With electric cars set to grow (and the inevitable cessation of combustion vehicles in 2035), having an electric version in this popular family run around size is important.
Alternatives to consider
The new Juke redesigns to it's a little less distinctive on design (although we prefer it) while also giving you that fun drive and an interior loaded with tech. It's a great car, drives nicely, but there's no electric options.
The VW T-Cross is one of our favourites in this segment, offering great looks, lots of connectivity and plenty of options. It also happens to drive really nicely, but again, there's no option for electric.
If you're looking for electric, then the Kia e-Niro is hard to beat. For the price you get great range, plenty of practicality and you're not bamboozled with options. Just prick your trim and off you go. It just doesn't look quite as interesting from the outside.