The 1.2-litre petrol is available in three outputs, badged 82, 110 and 130.
We haven’t driven the lower powered version, but the 110 feels punchy and flexible, and willing to rev. However, if you do a lot of motorway miles it may be worth considering that the 110 gets a five-speed manual, where the 130 gets a six-speed manual that sees it hold lower revs at motorway speeds.
A 1.6 BlueHDi diesel is also available in three power outputs – 75, 100 and 120. We haven’t driven the lower powered version, but both higher powered diesels offer good flexibility.
The higher powered versions of the 1.6 diesel and 1.2 petrol, when bought in mid-spec Allure trim or up, get Peugeot’s Grip Control – effectively a more advanced traction control system.
The 2008’s ride is a weak point. At lower speeds, rippled roads and potholes send thumps through the cabin, and as speed builds those same imperfections feel less harsh initially, but still cause the 2008’s body to become unsettled. Sticking with the smallest wheels possible will keep sharp-edged bumps at bay to a degree, but you’ll still feel them more than in rivals.
Should you just want to weave through urban traffic, then the 2008 does a good job. Its light steering makes it easy to nip in and out of lanes, while low-speed manoeuvres such as parking are made that bit easier.
However, with more speed comes less composure, because tight turns cause the 2008’s body to lean and the front wheels lose grip sooner than some of its better-driving rivals.
The light steering might be a boon in town, but it doesn’t help matters at speed. It gives you very little idea of what the front wheels are doing, and feels overly reactive initially, so it’s too easy to apply a bit more lock than you need and have to correct it mid-corner. It just doesn’t inspire much confidence.
The 1.2 petrol is actually the most refined of the range. It never becomes too noisy, and apart from some slight buzz through the pedals at its top end, it’s generally smooth.
The diesels are a little clattery at idle, and start to send noise and vibration into the interior beyond 3000rpm, but their good torque means you shouldn’t have to push them too hard to make progress.
Get up to motorway speeds and you’ll notice a fair amount of wind noise around the door mirrors, and quite a bit of road noise echoing around the cabin as well, while suspension noise is a noticeable noise at lower speeds. The manual gearbox isn’t the slickest, either, and the five-speed automatic can be jerky.
As with the 208, the 2008 has an unusually small steering wheel that you look over (instead of through) to see the instruments. Unfortunately, if you're less than six feet tall, you may well find the top of the wheel blocks your view of the speedo.
At least getting comfortable isn’t too much of a problem. There’s a nice, wide range of manual adjustment on both the steering wheel and driver’s seat, and driver seat height adjustment is standard across the range. Reaching the dashboard controls doesn’t require stretching too far, either, but there isn’t even the option of lumbar support.
Long journeys shouldn’t be too tiresome in models with the manual gearbox, because drivers will find the 2008’s pedals line up nicely with their seat, so you aren’t forced to sit at an awkward angle for hours on end.
Drivers won’t have trouble with the view ahead because all models have nice, deep windscreens and thin front pillars with little to obstruct a decent line of sight. The front side windows are deep, too, helping at junctions and roundabouts.
Over-the-shoulder visibility isn’t quite as good. The 2008’s rear screen is small, while its rear pillars are thick, so it has bigger blind spots than when looking forward.
Front parking sensors aren’t available on any 2008, even as an option. Rear sensors come as standard from Allure trim upwards and are optional on Active cars, but aren’t available on entry-level Access A/C trim at all. GT Line gets a reversing camera as well as audible parking sensors.
The touchscreen infotainment system – standard on all but the entry-level trim –disappoints, because it's fiddly to use on the move and there are no shortcut buttons to help you negotiate its menus.
The screen itself has reasonably modern graphics, but it’s unresponsive; you’ll often find yourself stabbing at buttons a couple of times, only to then hit something you didn’t want. Dragging menu bars up and down requires patience, too.
Entry-level cars get two speakers, FM radio, USB input, Bluetooth, steering-column mounted audio controls. The rest get the 7.0in colour touchscreen, DAB radio, and Apple CarPlay and Mirrorlink on top of that. Sat-nav is an option on all models apart from top-spec GT Line, which is a shame since you get it as standard even on lower and more affordable trims in the Renault Captur.
Peugeot has done a good job making everything you see and touch in its cabin look and feel high quality. In this sense, it is better than rivals such as the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur and Citroen C4 Cactus.
Much of the dashboard and door cards are covered in pleasant, soft-touch plastics, while the chrome accents look and feel convincing, even if they aren’t actually metal. Meanwhile, the 2008’s switchgear is slick and well damped.
The farther down the dash and doors you go, the cheaper the plastics feel, but everything you interact with is of a good standard and, importantly, everything feels well screwed together.
The 2008 has enough room to seat two tall adults with ease; head and leg room are all reasonably generous. However, head room in the 2008 is limited when the car is fitted with a panoramic roof, and shoulder room is poor by the class standards. All of the 2008’s rivals are good in these departments, with at least a comparable amount of room on offer.
There are two cupholders ahead of the gearlever, and each door has a pocket big enough to accept a 1.0-litre water bottle, although it won’t secure it in place. The 2008’s glovebox is also relatively small, so you won’t fit much more than the driver’s manual inside.
That said, instead of an armrest between the front seats, Peugeot has fitted a large cubbyhole covered by a sliding cover, which is perfect for storing your phone, keys and wallet.
The 2008 is spacious in the back when compared with other small SUVs such as the Nissan Juke. Two tall adults have good head room, and leg room is also good if those in the front seats aren’t too tall. However, seating three adults across the rear seats might be asking a bit much; three children will be fine, but the middle adult will struggle to position their feet comfortably and will have to straddle a pronounced transmission tunnel.
Each rear door has its own pocket, but these are quite a bit shallower than the ones on the front doors. At least each front seat comes with a pocket on the rear of its backrest for storing magazines or maps.
Although driver’s seat height adjustment is standard across the range, passenger seat height adjustment doesn’t feature until Allure trim. Even so, there’s still enough base and backrest adjustment for front passengers of most shapes and sizes to find a good seating position.
The rear seatbacks can be adjusted for comfort as well as folded 60/40, and because they’re spring loaded, can be folded with just a touch of a button rather than having to actively fold them down yourself.
The 2008 has a 360-litre boot, which is bigger than a Juke’s, but smaller than a Renault Captur’s. Even so, it’s a nice square shape and the boot floor sits flush with its lip, so sliding in heavy items is easy, and the boot opening is tall and wide with no obstructions.
Once folded, the rear seats lie completely flat, which makes it easier to slide long items in. This means there’s a completely flat surface from the boot entrance right through to the front seats – again, no obstructions means easier loading.
As long as you keep the 2008 sensible in terms of its engine and trim, it’s competitively priced against rivals such as the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur and Citroen C4 Cactus. Opt for higher trims and silly options and it just isn’t worth it.
Private buyers buying with cash should go for the 1.2 petrol, especially if they do a lot of town driving. It’s well priced and cheap to run; its CO2 emissions dip below 100g/km when paired Peugeot’s EGC automatic gearbox, although it’s not good to drive.
Company car drivers should take a look at the 1.6 BlueHDi, which emits the least CO2 of the whole range. It’s more expensive, though, so it’s best for those who cover above-average mile and can claw back the extra cost with the better fuel economy it offers.
Like all of its rivals, there are some extremely attractive finance offers on the 2008, and running costs such as insurance, road tax maintenance are very reasonable.
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Avoid entry-level Access A/C trim as it’s the only model in the range to not get an alarm, DAB radio, alloy wheels or a leather-trimmed steering wheel, although it does get air-con, USB input and cruise control. We favour Active trim, since it comes with 16in alloy wheels, a colour touchscreen, USB socket, Bluetooth and a DAB radio. It’s the one to buy whether you’re buying privately or through work, because it has everything you realistically need but keeps the price sensible. However, you can only get this trim with the lowest powered versions of the petrol and diesel engines, neither of which we’ve tried.
Allure trim is well worth looking at if you want something with more features. It includes rear parking sensors, 17in alloys, LED interior lighting, dual-zone climate control, fog lights and (if you go for the higher powered engines) Grip Control. Top spec GT Line gets some stand-out styling features and is the only trim to get sat-nav as standard, but it’s too expensive to be recommendable.
The 2008 didn’t feature in the latest round of reliability surveys, but Peugeot itself managed to finish 12th out of 25 manufacturers, which is a decent result.
However, the 208, which the 2008 is based on, didn’t score quite so well. It managed 19th place out of the 24 small cars included in the survey, with windscreen wipers, door mirrors and booth hatch problems among the most frequent.
Every 2008 comes with Peugeot’s standard three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, and this can be extended. Servicing can be paid for via monthly plans rather than all in one go.
The 2008 has as much safety equipment as you’d expect, without going the extra mile. Stability control is provided across the board, as are front, side and curtain airbags, but you don’t get a driver’s knee ’bag. At least the 2008 got the maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests.
It’s a similar story with security kit; deadlocks and an immobiliser are standard, but base Active A/C trim doesn’t get an alarm. Even so, security firm Thatcham awarded the 2008 full marks for its resistance to being driven away, and good marks for its resistance to being broken into in the first place.
The Grip Control system that you get on more powerful models is a neat addition that few rivals offer, too, since it does make things easier in tricky surface conditions, without affecting the good on-road efficiency of this front-wheel drive SUV.