BY BRIAN BYRNE
THERE can’t be many better ways of spending an hour than listening to Ronan Collins interviewing opera soprano Claudia Boyle on a Sunday morning, with appropriate interludes of her quite amazing voice in song. Such an unpretentious lady, the best of her brought out by a master in putting people at their ease.
It was only made better by the fact that I was pootering the Peugeot 2008 through the back roads of my home county of Kildare, trying out the peripheral south under its latest travel restrictions.
It was a fun morning. Especially as I deliberately left the sat-nav off, and though I once knew those roads like the freckles on my hands, I managed to get lost several times. Signs on, road signage in that part of my world isn’t what it should be.
But the 2008, launched here in its new generation just before the first national lockdown, is very much what it should be. I’d had a rumble through south Wicklow then in a diesel version, and that brief couple of hours impressed me. This time I had the petrol, a 1.2 which is available in 100hp and 130hp options.
The new 2008 is visually a much more striking car than its predecessor, which looked the small car that it was. This time, with extra length and width, it looks like it’s from the next segment. In large measure because of the very strong grille design. You certainly won’t mistake it for any other model or make.
That strong styling is carried right through the profile of the car to the again distinctive rear end. There are definitive lines and angles that make a statement for any owner.
Obviously a variant on the hatchback 208, sharing platform and powertrains as well as those style details, the 2008 is nevertheless an option for those requiring more room than in the supermini. While I still have an issue getting in and out, as I have in most cars beyond full SUVs, once in there’s lots of head and other space for four or five. Nobody, for instance, will have any kneeroom difficulties even behind me.
The format also lends to a decent load space, significantly more than in the previous car, so the new 2008 could be a suitable choice for many modern families as their standard transportation. Certainly until everyone has reached the stage of more active and individually varied lifestyles — at which point there’s always an upgrade to a 3008 or 5008.
From the driver’s seat there’s a good bump-up in materials quality, along with a style upgrade in line with the exterior. The primary display comes with a very 3D design that makes good use of the i-Cockpit format which has been a feature of other Peugeot models over recent years. In that, everything is seen above the steering wheel, you’ll remember.
The centre screen is, as usual, multi-functional, with everything we now expect from such things. A double row of buttons and switches underneath it takes a bit of learning, but as an owner you’d quickly get to know them.
The GT Line of the review car is the top of three normal grades, with just the actual GT versions above it. The main elements in this grade are heated front seats, a 10-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation, twin chrome exhaust trims, full LED headlamps with Smartbeam Assist, LED front fog lamps with cornering function, LED daytime running lights, and the Active Safety Brake.
It’s a given that this car, being a modern Peugeot, will be a decent good roads cruiser. But as a result of my February romp through Wicklow, I wanted to play with this one in similar roads, hence the Sunday morning with Ronan and Claudia.
South Kildare is good romping country, and while doing so well within the bounds of safety for myself and other road users, the morning reaffirmed my initial assessment
of the 2008.
The petrol engine had enough poke to take advantage of the sometimes yumpy straights through uninhabited stretches of quite lovely scenery. With the drive mode tightened up to Sport, the handling response through the uphill and downhill bends proved as precise as would ever be necessary. The 1.2 engine itself is a responsive unit, and on paper seems frugal enough — there’s also an Eco mode to get the best out of that.
Given any kind of car market at all — and this is not at all a given for 2020 — the new 2008 would be ramping up very excellent sales for Peugeot in Ireland. In the restricted business environment we’re seeing, I reckon it will still create an expanded share anyhow. When we get out of the coronavirus health mess, it could become the same kind of winner that the original bigger brother 3008 brought.
And, finally, just to mention that it also comes in pure electric form. But that will be a review for another time.