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Peugeot, the (less discreet) charm of the bourgeoisie

 After the 3008, its biggest success, the Sochaux firm continues its move upmarket with rowdy accents.  Like the new 2008, a small SUV that makes cases.

Faced with Citroën, too often reduced to the bare minimum, DS struggling to impose its vision of French chic and Opel, still recovering, Peugeot takes a prominent place within the PSA group.  The doyenne brand, on the brink of the abyss in the mid-2010s, is the only three-color manufacturer to have started a real upmarket.  It achieved this by deploying a slightly flashy vision of the bourgeois automobile.  A path that largely inspired the new 2008.

 The goal is to build a Latin alternative to Volkswagen, the most exclusive European generalist manufacturer.

 This model did not only need to be renewed;  it also had to be refocused.  The first generation to appear in 2013 had not fully appreciated the SUV phenomenon, which was already evident.  It looked like a raised station wagon rather than a tall car and skipped two-tone bodies, a novelty then very much in progress.  The Renault Captur, less well finished but more streamlined with its cheerful colors and its raised driving position, had won the chill against 2008, far behind on the European market.  This time, Peugeot corrected the situation.  For the Sochaux firm, there is no doubt that the era was of cars with catchy manners and moderately chastised formal language.  Following on from the 3008, its biggest commercial success of the decade, it again relies on the concept of "hyper-expressiveness".

 The 2008, small SUV which has all the same grown by 14 cm (it now measures 4.30 m), makes tons of it.  Designed on a new platform, the new generation forgets its shyness and multiplies the signs of allegiance to the SUV tribe.  The front, deliberately massive or even a bit aggressive in its cut, seeks to impose it by sporting a horizontal cover while the grille has widened and verticalized.  The long, bright "fangs" that adorn the prow of the latest Peugeot cars have not been forgotten.  In profile, the 2008 appears more sober with discreet strokes of gouge in the sheet metal to give a slight relief but its designers could not help highlighting the wheel arches with arches of black plastic, adventurer type, and  reassemble the seat belt, thereby reducing the glass area.

A slightly virile staging in line with the masculine tropism of this brand, 63% of whose customers are men, one of the highest averages on the market.

 Loose shapes

 These clear-cut choices underlie an intense search for visibility.  Designed not to go unnoticed, like the German models that display their pedigree, a Peugeot must express a statutory purchase.  An object of pride whose exterior line challenges, just like its interior.  Very neat and resolutely high-tech with a 3D-effect display inaugurated by the latest 208, the dashboard incorporates instrumentation installed in an elevated position, just behind a curious little steering wheel which reinforces the feeling of handling of the car.  Few colors, ample shapes and good materials.  It is pleasing to the eye and rather classy.

 The engines available on board the 2008 provide the essentials;  the 1.2 liter three-cylinder petrol is available in versions 100 and 130 but also 155 hp.  The brand's traditional qualities in terms of handling and, above all, comfort, cannot be denied.  From April 2020, an electric e-2008 developing 100 kW (136 hp) will also be sold from 37,100 euros excluding the ecological bonus of 6,000 euros.  Quite pleasing to drive, this newcomer which announces a range of 320 km and could, according to the manufacturer, represent some 10% of sales, however, imposes some constraints in terms of habitability which weigh on the whole range.  In order to preserve space for the battery, the rear seat can no longer fold down into the floor and the volume of the trunk (434 liters) only progresses moderately compared to the new proportions of the car.

 Read also Peugeot, the (less discreet) charm of the bourgeoisie

 In small touches, Peugeot is advancing on the path to gentrification with a clearly designated objective: to build a Latin alternative to Volkswagen, the most upscale European general manufacturer.  A quest that involves desirable and sophisticated cars but also prices that have been significantly increased.  In this regard, the 2008 does not hide its claims.  Its prices (from 21,500 euros) are subject to significant inflation (from 600 to more than 2,000 euros depending on the version) and are, all other things being equal, clearly above the price list for the new Renault Captur  .

 By upgrading its cars and prioritizing profitability over volumes, the brand also tends to draw the profile of its buyers upwards.  In Europe, the sociotype of the Peugeot manufacturer as defined by the surveys draws a portrait of an "upper conservative" (a rather conservative bourgeois) rather than an "upper liberal".  Like a distant echo in the image of Epinal of the Peugeot customer of yesteryear, provincial notable a bit austere at the wheel of his 404?  "Upper conservative, sure.  But a conservative upper that gets loose when it comes to choosing a car, "insists Jean-Philippe Imparato, the general manager of the Peugeot brand.