Fall in love...

Often heavy and cumbersome, many SUVs suck in the city – but not this fine little French filly.

One of the first modern-day sub-compact SUV offerings has arrived in New Zealand, boasting that all-important adventure-promising raised ride-height look that everybody seems to love.

All things beautiful
It certainly won the heart of this week’s Bay Driver who is no stranger to all things beautiful, Caci Clinic Mount Maunganui and Hamilton clinic manager and owner Ange McAinch. “I just love the interior,” Ange told us after a short test drive.

“It’s extremely spacious and the innovative layout is uncluttered, allowing me to see at a glance the gauges and switches without having to take my eyes off the road for an extended period of time.

“And although it is an SUV, it doesn’t feel too big, is compact and easy to park, and the elevated seats make it a breeze to get in and out of.

“The wheel arch extensions make the lines of the SUV look shapely and give it a more rugged appeal while still looking non-threatening, and the feline look headlights are pretty sexy.”

Ange says the safety features of the new 2008 SUV give you peace of mind. “Six airbags make me feel safer on the open road, and the reversing camera helps to ensure there are no blind spots when backing out of carparks at the supermarket, where there is always so much going on. This is a great all round vehicle and has all the features I love to make this a pleasure to drive.”

Jeez Ange, have you ever thought about hanging up the laser and writing car reviews full time? Talk about a thorough overview – thanks!

Extra bits and pieces
Ange didn’t miss much, but with an absolute jam-packed list of features we thought we better list them all. The features include front, side and curtain airbags, hill-start assist, cruise control with speed limiter, rear parking sensors, reverse camera, satellite naivagation, LED daytime running lights, roof bars, multi-function steering wheel, power-operated door mirrors with heating, four-wheel disc brakes, a Bluetooth phone connection for MirrorLink/CarPlay – as well as USB audio and alloy wheels.

We were surprised as well, so we phoned Tauranga Peugeot’s dealer principal John Hayes to reconfirm a few of the specifications for this model.

Perched high up on the comfy driver’s seat, enjoying the excellent views afforded by the vast windscreen, deep side windows, the low dashboard cowl and lap-sited steering wheel, you’d swear the 2008 had a rather large price tag.

The attention to detail is exemplary; from the fabric/mesh-like dash trim flanked by metallic/chrome-look highlights, to the matte and gloss contrasts capping the doors, instruments and lower console, there’s nothing cheap going on here.

The airliner-style – and thankfully manual-operated – park brake lever is another nice touch which Ange was very taken with.

The upshot is an airy and spacious-feeling interior – one that is generous for adult legs, feet and heads, whether you’re sat in the front or rear. Instruments that are fast to decipher, combined with easy-reach controls, were another top priority for the interior designers, so it’s no surprise to learn this model is top-shelf in this respect.

The touchscreen sitting high up in the centre of the dash is a great thing, keeping eyes from straying too far off the road for too long, ample ventilation and a choice of storage options add practicality also.

The rear seat has a 12V outlet for phone charging, overhead reading lights, and ISOFIX child-seat anchorage points on the outboard seats.

Further out back, the tailgate is large, and opens up high to reveal a deep and flat floor. Rated at 350 litres with the rear split-fold seats in place and 1400L when folded down, its size is not just an illusion.

Ride and handling
Light steering with excellent feedback and a tight turning circle are just three unexpected delights. We’ve now driven most of the new wave of sub-compact SUVs and the 2008 is one of the most accomplished we’ve tested. With 205/50 R17 tyres, the chassis grips with exemplary tenacity, bringing road holding security to the 2008’s eager and agile handling characteristics.

Consequently, this is a hoot around town, turning into tight and tricky corners like a towering hot hatch, zipping here and there.

The verdict
The 2008 with just 81kW of power and three naturally aspirated turbo boosted cylinders has won us over convincingly.

Great looking, soft riding, sharp steering, and lusty to boot, this is our sub-compact SUV of choice. We were really enamoured with this French beauty.

Highlighted specifications as standard:

Engine: 1199cc 3-cyl PureTech e-turbo petrol with start/stop technology
Power: 81kW@5500rpm
Torque: 205Nm@1500rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Top Speed: 188km/h
Fuel: 4.8L/100km
Weight: 1280kg
Steering: Electric rack and pinion
ENCAP safety rating – 5 stars
RRP: From $34,990 plus on-road costs
Dealer:  Tauranga Peugeot, 619 - 627 Cameron Rd, Tauranga. Ph: 07 579 5080.


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