The Peugeot 2008 is a tamed beast

Some will say it’s a cliché but I truly believe in love at first sight. When I saw this lady a couple of years back at my college friend’s wedding, I knew I wanted a dose of her every day. Luckily, she saw something in me and we’re one year strong now. The feeling was the same when Peugeot Philippines unveiled the 2008 crossover at the 2022 Manila International Auto Show. It’s the smallest and relatively cheapest in their lineup and one look at it made me say “I want it.”

And how can you not? Claw marks as headlights and taillights, fangs as daytime running lights, a frameless grille, a bulging rear end, twin pipes at the back, and eye-catching 2008 emblem on the hood – the Peugeot 2008 is peak aggression. A domesticated lion ready to pounce on anyone who steps on the wrong patch of land in its territory. It didn’t need outlandish body lines nor the biggest wheels. Every angle is very intimidating. I even look forward to seeing the DRL’s reflection on the car in front of me.

Aggression turns into modern sportiness once you’re inside the cabin. You’ll immediately notice the faux carbon fiber on the dashboard that extends to the door panels. The touchscreen is slanted towards the driver, and under it are an array of push down switches for ventilation and other controls. The USB ports are on the pillars of the center console and there’s an electronic parking brake but sadly, no auto brake-hold.

Start her up and you’ll be amazed at the 3D gauge cluster. It’s hard to capture in an image but in person, one will definitely find this unique and pleasing to look at. Other warning lights are on the gauge housing itself so they’ll be more noticeable when lit.

Then there’s the steering wheel. I’m not a fan of D-shaped steering wheels but I came to love the one in this French crossover. It probably helps that its ‘corners’ are nicely curved and glides smoothly when returning to its original position. The smaller size also makes it easier to maneuver during 2 or 3-point turns.

The rear of the cabin is in stark contrast with the front. There’s no center armrest, no rear air vents, but at least there’s bottle holders. All in all, the cabin screams of youth. It’s sporty, modern, and just like many of us when we were younger – very self-centered, as seen by the absence of rear amenities.

Smiles were immediately drawn on my face the moment I took the 2008 for a drive. The beast is certainly tamed as I became its temporary alpha. The throttle is sensitive to your input so it’s easy to go fast anytime, even if you’re not in sport mode. Anyone can be passed quickly and it just snakes through EDSA easily, like a kid who tasted his first chocolate and experienced his first sugar rush. In fact, on my first drive with the 2008, I only got 5 km/l. It was like Senna urged me to go at every gap that exists.

The steering wheel is light, but becomes heavy (not just firm) once you’re at highway speeds making it very stable while ride comfort is just average for its class. What’s great is the NVH for the cabin since it remains quiet even at the speed limit. Combine this with the sporty steering wheel, the carbon design on the dash, and the responsive throttle and you’ll want to be at the upper end of highway speeds for a while.

Once my excitement died down, I went for a real drive and was pleasantly surprised with this crossover. In the city with traffic, it was able to get 9 km/l while on the highway, I got 25km/l – both in normal mode. The last time I had those figures was in a smaller and lighter sedan. Clearly, the Peugeot engineers maximized their skills in tuning this 1.2-liter turbo engine and 6-speed automatic transmission.

The quirks of the 2008 make themselves apparent once you encounter traffic. The sensors are very useful, as is the Blind Spot Monitor, but repeated activations cancel the Apple CarPlay or Android Auto interface on the touchscreen. During traffic is also the only safe time you can adjust your aircon controls because they’re on the touchscreen itself, with the switches below it only for ventilation. This also means extra clicks since you’ll go out of the smartphone interface first, adjust the fan control, then go back to the interface. A bit of a hassle but it is what it is.

Peugeot makes up for those by having a good set of advanced safety features. This includes Blind Spot Monitoring, High Beam Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Driver Attention Warning, Active Safety Brake, and Hill Start Assist. It’s not as plentiful as its Japanese counterparts but it’s more than enough for a safer drive in the chaotic city.

The Peugeot 2008 is a mesmerizing gateway to the brand. The setbacks seem trivial when you look at it from a wider perspective. It’s not everyday that you can have something that looks as good and has the drive to back it up. I even racked up a little over 1,000kms during my time with it – that’s how much I enjoyed this French crossover.

If you have P1,550,000 lying around, the Peugeot 2008 is a worthy buy. It’s one of those cars that won’t be given justice by specs and brochures alone as its allure is in the metal. You have to see it in person, drive it yourself, and experience first hand why it’s such a tempting crossover.

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