A well-bred lit­tle

It’s a mild man­nered mini SUV that needs to be driven smartly

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive - NEIL DOWL­ING neil.dowl­ing@cars­guide.com.au

BABY SUVs are breed­ing like rab­bits and ap­pear equally re­sis­tant aqs the bunnies to any genre-tar­geted virus.

They are the new “it’’ class, their pop­u­lar­ity ev­i­denced by the pop­u­la­tion of these 4m crit­ters jump­ing from near zero to four mod­els within four months. And more are com­ing.

In con­cept, they are ideal for fam­ily life in the suburbs and even cover the bases for hol­i­days in the coun­try. In re­al­ity, they’re not much dif­fer­ent from a small sta­tion wagon. Price-con­scious buy­ers should be mind­ful that a Hyundai ix35 front-drive SUV, for ex­am­ple, costs $26,990 while a Hyundai i30 Tour­ing wagon is $4000 cheaper.

Con­sider also that the ix35 has a cargo ca­paciy of 591 litres (seats up) and 1436L (rear seat down) while the mea­sures for i30 Tour­ing are 528Land a vast 1642L.

Which is why the Peu­geot 2008 is the most in­ter­est­ing of the bunch, be­ing a blend of a wagon with hatch­back han­dling and ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity with an SUV’s gen­er­ous and very flex­i­ble 410L/1400L cargo ca­pac­ity.

VALUE

Euro­pean cars are very price com­pet­i­tive thanks to the Aus­tralian dol­lar and fac­to­ries sub­si­dis­ing pric­ing to stay afloat. Re­gard­less, the $21,990 2008 with the in­trigu­ing 1.2-litre three-cylin­der en­gine ap­pears good value.

Stan­dard are al­loy wheels, re­v­erse cam­era and rear park sen­sor, seven-inch touch­screen, six-speaker au­dio with Blue­tooth. Peu­geot’s capped­price ser­vice goes for five years (it costs $1107 for the first three years) with an­nual ser­vice in­ter­vals. Road­side as­sis­tance is in­cluded. It has a rea­son­able 46 per cent re­sale value af­ter three years.

DE­SIGN

Noth­ing as rad­i­cal as Nis­san’s Juke here, with heavy fam­ily re­sem­blance to its 208 hatch­back donor. It looks neat and sim­ple and of­fers good cabin space and, as we say, use­ful cargo stor­age. This area is wide and high and has few im­ped­i­ments. Ac­cess is via a wide hatch door.

It gets soft-touch plas­tics, a big cen­tral touch­screen (for au­dio, ven­ti­la­tion and op­tional sat­nav), small steer­ing wheel and an in­stru­ment bin­na­cle that sits above the wheel’s rim to keep the driver’s eyes al­most in line with the road ahead. The lack of cuphold­ers is an­noy­ing.

Steer­ing wheel pods hold re­mote con­trols for the au­dio and cruise con­trol but are less ef­fec­tive (and in­vis­i­ble to the driver) than steer­ing wheel but­tons. The odd-shaped hand­brake lever en­sures no scratched nail pol­ish.

TECH­NOL­OGY

The 1.2-litre three-cylin­der (60kW/118N) is the 2008’s in­trigu­ing fea­ture and at the same time its weak­ness.

It claims 4.9L/100km from the

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