Small SUV, big plans

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By PAUL GOVER

A BABY SUV that puts Peu­geot up against Mini is con­firmed for Aus­tralia in 2013.

The French brand’s Ur­ban Cross­over Con­cept, which likely will be re­named and badged as the 2008 for show­rooms, is a spin-off from the up­com­ing Peu­geot 208 and headed for big things in Aus­tralia.

It comes as sales of small SUVs boom in Europe, with ev­ery­thing from the Nis­san Juke to the Ford C-Max and Opel Mokka do­ing grow­ing num­bers.

It’s more like the Mini Coun­try­man than any­thing else, al­though di­rect com­par­isons will have to wait un­til the Paris Mo­tor Show in Septem­ber and then the pro­duc­tion run that starts in 2013.

But the 2008 has been given early clear­ance for Aus­tralia as the com­pany plans to push hard with a solid spin-off from the 208 and its head­liner model, the GTi hot hatch.

‘‘Yes, the UCC is com­ing. We will have it in the fi­nal quar­ter of next year,’’ con­firms Bill Gillespie, gen­eral man­ager of Peu­geot Au­to­mo­biles Aus­tralia.

He is less spe­cific on prices and ri­vals, al­though it is likely to be com­pared with the Mini Coun­try­man for space and priced in a sim­i­lar ball­park.

‘‘It’s smaller than the 4008, which is go­ing re­ally well. It’s bring­ing new peo­ple to the brand,’’ he says.

The UCC was re­vealed at the Shang­hai Mo­tor Show in April and picks up the lat­est styling direc­tions from both the 208 and 4008.

But it will def­i­nitely be a spin-off from the me­chan­i­cal plat­form of the 208, which means small­ca­pac­ity en­gines for max­i­mum­fuel ef­fi­ciency.

Peu­geot is plan­ning big for Aus­tralia with the ul­ti­mate goal of hit­ting 10,000 sales a year, al­though it has not set a timetable.

It’s also wait­ing for clear­ance and pos­i­tive tests be­fore com­mit­ting to any of the com­pany’s up­com­ing hy­brid cars.

The 2008 is known in­ter­nally as the A94 and has been fast-tracked for pro­duc­tion fol­low­ing an ear­lier con­cept car, the HR1, at the Paris Mo­tor Show in 2010.

The Peu­geot Ur­ban Cross­over Con­cept is head­ing to Aus­tralia in the fi­nal quar­ter of 2013

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