Peugeot with identity crisis

19 December 2012 - 13:35 By By BRUCE BENNETT
SOFT-ROADER: The 4008 has attractive styling, without the bulk of some SUVs on the market
SOFT-ROADER: The 4008 has attractive styling, without the bulk of some SUVs on the market

Here at MotorMania we like to mix things up a bit. Last week in the Used Car corner we wrote about a relatively elderly Toyota Condor.

This week, with Christmas and annual-bonus time approaching for the lucky ones, we're moving upmarket and looking at an almost-new Peugeot 4008 SUV. This model arrived in SA only midway through this year and the one we drove had done about 5000km.

So, if you play your cards right, you could get a low-mileage 4008 at a good price.

Like the Condor, this Peugeot can be described as a four-wheel drive people-mover but that's about where the resemblance ends.

While the Condor has a permanent 4x4 arrangement, with low range, the Peugeot is much fancier but perhaps less effective when the going gets really tough.

This is apparently the first four-wheel-drive Peugeot to come to South Africa. You can change from normal front-wheel-drive to 4x4 at the turn of a dial, and to a lock mode (which sends more power, up to 82%, to the back wheels as needed.)

The lack of low range weakens its off-road punch, as does the CVT (constantly variable transmission) gearbox and the relatively low torque (197Nm) from the 2-litre motor. (There is no diesel option at this stage).

It has good ground clearance of 200mm but you should leave the tar only for gravel roads - I wouldn't like to drive it through the veld.

On highways and urban roads it is satisfactory, although the ride is stiff on rough surfaces. It appeals to and draws favourable comments from a wide range of people - from little boys to petrol attendants to female colleagues.

So yes, it is a handsome vehicle, a little on the butch side but without the bulk of some SUVs.

The only trouble is that the 4008 can't seem to decide what it wants to be.

For example, it has paddle shift behind the steering wheel and a manual shift arrangement on the floor-mounted gear lever; these would be more at home on a sportier vehicle and I found it better just to leave it in full auto mode.

The 4008 certainly is comfortable, with good leg and headroom front and rear and excellent boot space.

The spare is full-sized - just as well, because this vehicle rides high on big wheels so a biscuit spare would look decidedly out of place.

There is a lovely panoramic glass roof that allows you to enjoy starlit nights - and an electric roof panel for hot summer days that get too hot.

The Peugeot also has an excellent dual climate control and controls for phone, cruise control and sound system are on the steering wheel. I had to search before I found the button for the trip computer - it's to the right of the instrument panel but awkwardly placed behind the steering wheel.

There are no fewer than seven airbags and it's a big solid vehicle, so you feel safe.

The 4x4 system, when used on rain-lashed roads, make the 4008 feel even more secure - and I believe this is more than mere imagination. Fuel consumption is claimed to be 8.1litres/100km. I sometimes achieved even less on highways but, realistically, you could expect more in the region of 11l/100km.

While this is a good looking car packed with features, you'd be able to negotiate a good price on a used model. By the way, the 4008 Active costs around R365000 new, while the Allure version costs nearly R390000.

My guess is they're not flying off the floor. Or maybe you should look at the little sister in a used 3008, a crossover Peugeot that is hard to fault. It has the same sort of looks and practicality but has a six-speed manual gearbox and a superb 1.6-litre turbo motor with more power and torque than the 4008.

Even if you bought it new you could get an Active 3008 for under R275000 - and a quick internet search turned up a 2010 model for R150000.