Like or loathe them, compact crossovers are big business right now and no volume manufacturer can afford to ignore the segment, particularly in Europe. Peugeot has been in the game for a few years now, having launched the 208-based 2008 in 2013, but the class has become even more competitive since then.
For us though, being in the right place at the right time isn’t quite enough - the 2008 needs to impress on the road. And with Peugeot enjoying something of a purple patch right now with its dedicated drivers’ cars - the 208 GTI by Peugeot Sport and 308 GTI are both fantastic fun - it’s reasonable to expect some talent from the volume models too. If you’re looking for affordable family fun, does the 2008 deliver?
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In brief, yes and no. Peugeot got things right when first releasing the 2008 in 2013, and the car's inherent qualities remain. But unless you really need the extra height, both in terms of roofline and ground clearance, we'd be tempted to opt for an equivalent 208 instead. It'll be less expensive, handle better, go slightly quicker and cost you less to run.
Peugeot 2008: in detail
Performance and 0-60mph time > Top-end petrol and diesel models are reasonably brisk, but there’s no dedicated performance model here.
Engine and gearbox > Mix of three-cylinder petrol and four-pot diesels, with five and six-speed manuals and a six-speed automatic.
Ride and handling > Surprisingly able, with good levels of grip and body control and quick, accurate steering through Peugeot’s now-familiar small-diameter steering wheel.
MPG and running costs > On-paper economy is exceptionally high. Not so easy to match in the real world, but the 2008 is still a frugal car.
Interior and tech > i-Cockpit layout is becoming more familiar and the cabin is comfortable and spacious, but “premium” feel is let down in a few areas.
Design > Despite being long in the tooth the 2008’s design has not dated too badly. It definitely lacks the cool factor of its newer 3008 sibling though.
Prices, specs and rivals
Starting at a smidge over £16k the Peugeot 2008 is at the cheaper end of the SUV spectrum. In entry-level Active form, the 2008 is still relatively well equipped, including a 7-inch touch screen, DAB, alloy wheels and front fog lights. Allure is the next step up, adding larger 17-inch wheels, automatic climate contol, parking sensors and Peugeot’s Grip Control, a quasi-offroad functionality for the traction and stability controls designed to improve grip in low-friction situations.
At the top of the tree sits the GT Line starting at just over £20k. For the extra cash, the 2008 includes a bunch of worthy inclusions, including full 3D sat nav, reverse camera, a panoramic glass roof and upgraded interior trim.
If your circumstances dictate a need for an SUV or supermini-based crossover, the Mazda CX-3 is about as close as you’ll get to one driving as well as a normal hatchback. Priced from around £19k, the Mazda is a more expensive option, especially if you match equipment levels against the 2008, but the direct gearbox and sorted handling compromise make it the best of an average bunch when it comes to driving thrills.
Nissan’s Juke is still popular, and also offers a pretty tasty Nismo RS variant, but the Juke is feeling especially tired having been on sale for the best part of 7 years now. VW’s upcoming T-Roc is sure to throw a spanner into the works, but will likely be priced even higher than the Peugeot, meanwhile the Citroen C3 Aircross, Honda HR-V and Renault Captur are all newer, more practical and worth a look in.