Forget everything you know about the Peugeot 2008; so much has changed in this new-for-2020 model, including new mechanical underpinnings that mean it is larger with better space inside, and is far sweeter to drive. On top of all that it gets a more desirable look with improved build quality in the cabin.
In the Metal:
This time around its design changes are more revolution than evolution. Simply put, there isn't a bad angle on the new Peugeot 2008. In this higher-spec GT Line version, it benefits from LED headlights that include the three-claw daytime running light signature, forming part of the sabre-tooth tiger-like look that makes the front of the car so distinctive. As you see the 2008 coming towards you, this aspect of the illumination design adds a sense of width and stance to the compact crossover. The lower (longer) section of the LED DRL design used in lower-spec versions looks less interesting.
The modern design doesn't stop there; the contrasting black roof colour and matching door mirrors complement the car's body, which features plenty of sculpted surfaces. Its bold, upright grille has a detailed 3D effect and at the rear Peugeot repeats the three-claw lighting design. Boot capacity grows over its predecessor's by 10 litres to 434 litres, and the folding back seats get a 60:40 split. The design and shape of the rear seats make them more comfortable than the previous generation's. While space is still a little tight with three in the rear, the middle seat doesn't leave the passenger perched as highly. But it's in the front that you can truly appreciate the 2008 design. Its 3D i-Cockpit works well and should keep tech lovers satisfied. Equally, the 10-inch touchscreen display on these higher-spec models looks pin-sharp and reacts quickly to inputs. A handy wireless charging pad in the lower section of the centre console falls within easy reach, though you'll need a grippy phone case to prevent your device from sliding around and off the charging pad.
You could be forgiven for looking at this Peugeot 2008 and sniffing at the idea of it 'only' having a 1.2-litre engine, but the turbocharged three-cylinder unit is a sweet motor. It produces ample power and, unlike so many other cars in this segment, has some character to it. There is a distinct thrum to the engine when under load and this sound becomes more noticeable when you press it harder. It sounds more sporty than coarse, and we don't see it as a bad thing at all. The manual gearbox works well, although we'd like if the shift action felt a touch more precise. That said, the engine has sufficient torque to pull strongly from lower revs, meaning you won't constantly be downshifting to make progress.
The Peugeot 2008 manages to provide a more engaging drive than some of competition. Part of that could be contributed to the small steering wheel, which immediately makes the car feel agile and responsive. The front axle setup is entirely new compared to its predecessor, as the car now sits on Groupe PSA's 'CMP' platform, which also underpins the equally stylish Peugeot 208 and the latest Opel Corsa. You do notice the elevated driving position of the 2008, and the layout of the cabin means that, from the driver's seat, you don't feel quite as hemmed in as you can do in the larger Peugeot 3008.
What you get for your Money:
Peugeot Ireland offers the new 2008 in Active, Allure, GT Line and GT specifications. The engine options are quite simple: depending on trim level, buyers choose from a 1.2-litre Puretech (petrol, three cylinders, turbocharged) in 100hp, 130hp or 155hp states of tune. The 100hp engine always comes with a manual gearbox, the 155hp unit is always automatic and buyers of the 130hp engine can choose manual or automatic. Pricing starts at €23,900. There's a €1,900 price walk from Active to Allure, €2,530 to step up from there to GT Line, while the solitary 2008 GT (1.2 Puretech 155hp) is €34,950. The only diesel option is Peugeot's relatively new 1.5-litre BlueHdi unit, producing 100hp and always paired with a manual gearbox. It's priced from €25,900. Some of the 2008's supposed rivals are cheaper to buy, but we'd argue that the Peugeot feels more grown up and, depending on specification, in a class above. It's not bad value at all.
The Peugeot 2008 goes from being a good but slightly forgettable crossover to an extremely appealing car that's brimming with excellent design features, practical elements and is far more refined to drive. It heads right to the sharp end of what is a densely populated segment.