The ‘mid-life’ updated Peugeot 2008 was launched locally in mid-2017, so this review is not of a new car – far from it since the replacement for this due sometime next year has already gained some media traction especially as it will offer full electric as a motive option.
Rather the intention was simply to enjoy some French styling – and it is different to any other automaker and very often in ways so subtle, they are not immediately visible.
Some are more obvious and for me this is epitomised by the steering wheel. It may not look all that different but it has a size, feel, shape and thickness that combine into, for me, the perfect tool for the job.
It is a fun car to drive and the little 1,2-litre engine is more than willing – enough to propel it beyond legal speed limits quite quickly and easily unnoticeable until the man in brown steps into the road and waves you down.
In June this year Peugeot Citroën South Africa (PCSA) announced a significant involvement directly into the operation of a new partner venture in Namibia, full details of which are not yet disclosed but intriguing enough to provide for some speculation. . . and I stress, speculation.
Using the investment of Dongfeng into Groupe PSA the direction it has already announced in terms of greater levels of technology, electrification and overall vehicle complexity, the next generation of both Peugeot and Citroën cars could require even more in the way of specialised tools, computer systems and workshop training to manage them.
Current economic restraints mean the full potential of the South African market is not being realised but this is likely a temporary scenario. Equally, the rest of Africa – which holds great appeal for most automakers – lags behind where sales numbers should be.
Again, potentially temporary as some African economies are showing good growth statistics.
Citroën cars are returning (again) to SA, most likely towards the end of the year or early in 2020, having withdrawn in 2016 following dwindling sales numbers.
Control of PCSA has been returned to Peugeot-Citroën’s French parent company Groupe PSA.
Citroën, on its own, is a strange animal and has never quite realised the acclaim it should have for the innovations it has introduced to automobiles over the years and even for the fact it has produced some of the quirkiest, left of centre designs – the Deux Cheveaux, DS21 Pallas and Traction Avant spring to mind alongside the Cactus, the last Citroën model to be launched in South Africa.
With technology racing forward at speed and geared heavily to European requirements, there is a strong case for a generation hold to service emerging economies both in terms of keeping the tech within current boundaries and, importantly, keeping costs as low as possible.
Thus, my speculation is a SKD assembly operation arising in Namibia to keep selected models such as the 208 and 308 along with suitable Citroën counterparts alive in their current format beyond their European life spans.
The mid-life update for the 2008 SUV strengthened its all-terrain DNA, making it eminently more suitable for local and African road conditions.
The interior was been upgraded to be comparable with the latest generation 308 hatchback and the i-Cockpit gained an 18 cm colour touch-screen display, with latest-generation connectivity and ergonomics.
The flagship, in GT Line trim was given a crimson-themed execution inside and out, and an even more extensive list of features, to Peugeot’s advanced PureTech turbo petrol engine and six-speed auto. The technical specification is identical to that of the Allure 1.2 PureTech Auto version.
However, it was not only aesthetics that were improved and the car saw the fitment of a bolder, more upright front grille and prominent lion emblem, emphasised by the elongated black and chrome headlight design.
The raised bonnet was also new, while the front and rear bumpers, sill protectors and wheel arch surrounds got a contrasting black finish.
The infotainment system, centrally located in the dash, includes integrated support for Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink, which allow selected smartphone features to be displayed on the touchscreen display and navigation is standard.
Standard equipment includes remote central locking, power windows and side-mirrors; climate control, rear park assist and hill start assistance.
There is a 410 litre luggage compartment, which can be extended to 1 400 litres by folding the split rear bench seat flat. A low loading sill and wide-opening tailgate ensure convenient access to the boot, which houses a full-sized spare wheel.
Competitively priced in its segment, the 2008 is a practical solution for modern mobility. The various modes it offers for driving situations – mud, sand, snow and rocks – cover most road conditions likely to be experienced and it is capable in all of these.
Safety equipment includes the obligatory anti-lock braking and assorted crash bags and it carries a 5-star rating from Euro NCAP.
It simply does make sense in my speculative scenario to keep a car like this active and alive in markets where levels of technology in terms of dealer and service infrastructure are yet at those required for what is expected of the new generation of cars.
Even if this is ‘wild’ speculation, it is worth thinking about, I think.