There’s a revolution underway at Peugeot.
It drives well, looks sharp, and has a cabin brimming with French charm. But it’s also very, very expensive.
Pricing for the 2008 range kicks off at $34,990 before on-road costs, which gets you the Allure on test here.
The range-topping 2008 GT Sport will set you back $43,990 before on-roads.
That pitches the base Allure head-to-head with the range-topping Renault Captur Intens ($35,790) for the hearts and minds of Francophiles.
The Nissan Juke range tops out at $36,490 before on-roads, while the Allure is within touching distance of the range-topping Ford Puma ST-Line V ($36,990).
Standard equipment in the 2008 Allure includes LED head- and tail lights, 17-inch diamond cut alloy wheels, gloss black roof rails.
Inside, there’s a 3D i-Cockpit digital instrument binnacle and a 7.0-inch central touchscreen, complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and DAB digital radio.
You’ll have to take the key out of your pocket to unlock the car, but it starts on the push of a button.
The seats are trimmed in fashionable cloth with leather highlights.
There are some notable omissions. Cruise control is passive, not adaptive, there’s no factory satellite navigation.
Sure, smartphone mirroring is on hand to help out, but in areas with no reception having a proper factory system can only be a good thing.
Unfortunately, a full range of active safety features is also reserved for the range-topping GT Sport models.
Although the Allure has autonomous emergency braking and lane-keeping assist, it misses out on blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise.
That isn’t really good enough at this price.
The new Peugeot 2008 is unrated by ANCAP at this stage.
However, the vehicle has been tested by Euro NCAP, earning a split four-star and five-star rating with and without an optional safety pack.
Australian models get AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, so we can expect the local 2008 range to carry a five-star rating.
There’s also active lane departure warning and speed sign recognition as standard from the base model.
The GT Sport flagship gets a more sophisticated AEB system with night-time detection for vulnerable road users, as well as adaptive cruise control with stop/go, Lane Positioning Assist, and ‘active’ blind-spot monitoring.
There are plenty of clichés about French cars, and the 2008 fits just about all of them.
It’s beautifully designed, with a distinctive dashboard flowing neatly into the shapely door trims, and the materials all feel high quality.
Even though it misses out on the leather trim standard on the GT Sport, the Allure’s cloth-trimmed seats are some of the best in the business.
They look great, and the grey cloth (with leather inserts) feel just as premium as fake cow hide. They have plenty of adjustment for a range of body styles, and are supportive enough to make longer journeys painless.
As is now a Peugeot trademark, there’s a tiny steering wheel sitting below high-set digital instruments. Some people love the i-Cockpit setup, others hate it.
I’ve always fallen into the first camp. The wheel in the 2008 drops down low so you can peek straight over the top at the neat 3D instrument binnacle, but doesn’t eat too much into knee room.
Try before you buy, but it gets a tick from me.
The 3D cluster is a cool point of difference from rivals. There’s a real sense of depth to it, but it’s not going to leave with crossed eyes or a headache like Avatar might have.
It’s a shame navigation isn’t standard, because a 3D map display would look very sharp in there.
The 7.0-inch infotainment screen is a mixed bag. It’s fully featured, but feels a generation old compared to the latest technology from its rivals with blocky graphics and slightly sluggish responses.
It’s also hamstrung by the fact you need to dive into a sub-menu to access the climate controls.
Perhaps what most holds it back are the camera displays. The reversing camera is low-resolution in the daytime and hard to discern at night, and the surround view camera doesn’t show you a surround view until you’ve driven a certain distance because it stitches together images from the rear camera instead of being a proper 360-degree array.
Both those things would be acceptable if the 2008 was a bargain basement car, but it isn’t. Peugeot is asking a top-end money here, and top-end technology is the expectation.
Storage spaces abound in the 2008, from the deep glovebox to the cubby hole hidden below the touchscreen. Not only is it spacious and rubber-lined to stop keys and coins sliding around, its lid doubles as a phone holder if you want to use Google Maps without plugging into CarPlay.
There’s also a storage space at the base of the dashboard.
Rear space is a mixed bag. Headroom is good for a small SUV, and the pinched window line hasn’t turned it into a dark and dingy place.
Legroom is reasonable. You’ll fit adults back there behind adults, something you can’t say for the Ford Puma or Toyota C-HR, and there are two USB ports to ensure the kids stay happy (and quiet) on your next road trip.
There are no air vents, however, nor a fold-down central armrest. The seats fold 60/40 to liberate more boot space.
With the rear seats in place there’s a spacious 434L of storage in the boot, although a two-tier floor means you can sacrifice some space in search of a flat load bay.
Folding them flat liberates 1467L of space.
Power in the 2008 Allure comes from a 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine.
It makes 96kW of power and 230Nm, down 18kW and 10Nm on what you get in the 2008 GT Sport.
A six-speed automatic transmission is standard in the Allure, rather than the eight-speeder you get in the range-topping GT Sport.
All 2008 models are front-wheel drive. Claimed fuel economy is 6.5L/100km on the combined cycle.
In the absence of the 208 hatchback, the 2008 is our first taste of Peugeot’s new small car platform.
It’s a good thing. The 2008 feels light on its feet and easy to pilot in the city, with quick and light steering that’s perfectly matched with the tiny steering wheel.
Not everyone is sold on the i-Cockpit setup, but it’s perfect for threading the little Peugeot through tight city streets.
You could park with a pinky, although the ropey camera is a black mark against its city-friendliness – especially when you factor in the chunky over-the-shoulder blind spot.
Like its bigger brothers, the 2008 has a brilliant ride. The suspension is pliant enough to absorb the city can throw at it, but the car doesn’t feel like a floaty bus.
Chalk some of that down to the suspension tune, and some down to the 1250kg kerb weight.
With 230Nm of torque on tap at just 1750rpm, the three-cylinder engine in the 2008 has plenty of punch off the mark.
In fine three-cylinder tradition it’s a characterful, thrummy little engine that makes a determined noise when you lean on it. Some vibrations sneak into the cabin and through the steering wheel, but it’s mostly smooth and refined.
It’s a shame Peugeot reserves a more powerful tune and eight-speed transmission for the GT Sport though.
At the moment it’s charming and punchy, but with more grunt it’d be properly class-leading. Not having an eight-speeder also precludes the base 2008 from getting adaptive cruise control because of a quirk in Peugeot’s powertrain strategy.
Spec limitations aside, the six-speeder is a good partner to the three-cylinder engine. It shifts smoothly at speed, and feels natural at low speeds in a way even the best dual-clutch transmissions can’t match.
The Peugeot 2008 is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty with roadside assistance.
The first five years of servicing will set you back $2235 in the Allure, and $2466 in the GT Sport.
Maintenance is required every 12 months or 15,000 kilometres, whichever comes first.
It’s hard to see the 2008 Allure setting the sales charts on fire.
That’s not because it’s bad, and not because it’s French. It’s because it’s just too expensive.
No matter how pretty (very), how fun to drive (quite), and how well appointed (extremely) the 2008 is, it’s tough to recommend over an array of better-equipped rivals.
Slash about $5000 from the price and the Allure has plenty to offer. As it stands it’s likely to remain a pricey, charming curiosity on Australian roads.