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Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test -

as the po­lar­is­ing 3008 peo­ple­mover/cross­over.

SAFETY

To earn its five-star rat­ing, the Pug has seven airbags, a well­cal­i­brated ABS and trac­tion/ sta­bil­ity con­trol, hill holder, rear park­ing sen­sors and re­vers­ing cam­era.

The ABS is sharp but the sta­bil­ity con­trol is buried pretty deep— it doesn’t dull all en­gine power de­liv­ery for sec­onds af­ter com­ing on ei­ther — and these are all good at­tributes in off-road ap­pli­ca­tions.

There is a full-size spare, though the 16-inch steel wheel is rated to 80km/h in the 18-inch shod cars.

DRIV­ING

Given those 18-inch rims, firmer spring and dam­per rates and re­cal­i­brated ABS and steer­ing, we were a touch scep­ti­cal when turn­ing off the beaten track and on to pot­holed, cor­ru­gated dirt roads south of Syd­ney on the lo­cal launch ear­lier this week.

Only a few years ago, one wouldn’t dream of tak­ing an 18-inch-shod softie on un­sealed roads cov­ered in pot­holes and cut up by cause­ways. But sur­pris­ingly, the car is quite deft both on and off the road and ca­pa­ble of more speed than its buy­ers typ­i­cal­ly­would use, pro­vided you set it up and bal­ance it for each corner.

Body con­trol is ad­mirable. The steer­ing is a lit­tle ar­ti­fi­cial in its speed de­tec­tion yet it is easy to drive if you steer it smoothly with­out any sud­den jerky moves.

The pad­dle-shifters on the CVT are easy to use and the man­ual has a nice throw and seems well-geared.

In fact, the lim­it­ing fac­tor to its cor­ner­ing dy­nam­ics seems to be the all-ter­rain tyres. They’re sim­ply not bitey enough on the hard-packed dirt with a layer of dust, and tend to give up a lit­tle at the front in faster cor­ners. The trade-off on tar­mac is a ten­dency is to push in­cre­men­tally, not squeal or fold un­der, and the 225/55 rub­ber is enough to ab­sorb the hits with­out shak­ing the fill­ings from your teeth.

The ride and han­dling are a pleas­ant sur­prise but the driv­e­train is dis­ap­point­ing in con­trast. Nei­ther the man­ual nor the CVT can hide the ob­vi­ous de­fi­ciency in the torque, which leaves the car slowly build­ing speed, brick by bor­ing brick, un­til it climbs over the 3500rpm wall.

It ac­quits it­self well once the wheels are rolling but in this era of tur­bocharged small fours and ex­cel­lent diesels with mounds of low-down torque, the con­ven­tional 2.0-litre with a rel­a­tively peaky power and torque band (110kw at 6000rpm, and 197Nm at 4000rpm) is frus­trat­ingly weak from rest or on steep in­clines.

Add four pas­sen­gers (as is this car’s de­mo­graphic) and some lug­gage to its 1375kg1470kg kerb weight, and your ears will no doubt fill with the whine from en­gine and gear­box alike as they nab power from the peak, and no ex­tra Pug pad­ding in the up­rated cabin will sti­fle it. You CVT or 5-speed man; 2Wdor on-de­man­dawd

7.7-8.1L/100 (claimed) also could ex­pect dou­ble-fig­ure fuel use.

VER­DICT

A solid SUV with de­cent spec and a dis­tinc­tive look. It’s no rev­o­lu­tion, French or oth­er­wise, in the com­pact SUV seg­ment but a diesel auto would be— will be— a dif­fer­ent story.

French essence: Peu­geot puts its stamp on the — fornow— petrol-only 4008

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