Just last month Peugeot proved that, given the chance, it is capable of wringing a respectable amount of fresh charm from its recycled small car platform. Unfortunately, where the 208 GTI had a feisty, hot hatch dynamic to raise it above the standard model’s faults, the 2008 is (understandably) more deeply mired in them.
On the outside, despite some clever differentiated detailing on the headlights and a bit of extra brawn, the donor car’s awkwardly collated design identity — tediously fussy at the front and flabbily uninspired at the rear — remains unmistakable. Like a flabby bodybuilder, there’s too much vacant skin here with too little to do.
Flunking the critical crossover eye candy test is made worse by the continuing poor state of affairs inside. The hatchback’s fragmented interior has been transferred wholesale, and while Peugeot claims that the relative position of dash and driver has not changed, the result hardly looks better now you appear to tower above it.
Granted, the hitherto obscured dials are now plainly visible, but all too often getting comfortable means adjusting the steering wheel so low that it lolls in your lap like the head of a sleeping toddler. Behind the front seats there’s an acceptable amount of space for adults, although Peugeot doesn’t seem to have taken much advantage of the elevated roofline that juts so conspicuously from the 2008’s brow.
The general curiousness is hardly diluted once on the move. The extra height is obviously noticeable, as is an unexpected amount of supplementary heft on the steering. Underfoot the pedals suffer from a characteristic degree of mush, and it would take a stout boot to dampen all the vibrations instantly discernible through the bulkhead.
The 1.6-litre e-HDI is a constantly chattering aural presence too, but with a 199lb ft of torque from 1750rpm and six well-spaced ratios to hand, it’s obligingly broad shouldered in its delivery (far more so than the spineless 120bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine) and settles the 2008 promptly into a benign shuffle.
From here on, with limited input or interaction, the anonymity sets like concrete. On the plus side, the car rides rather well on its 160mm of ground clearance, hardly ever wants to parch its thirst (70.6mpg is the combined quotation) and limits its average CO2 emissions to 105g/km.
In the negative column, inevitably exposed by pushing just a smidgen beyond an amble, the 96mm taller body responds to direction changes with a buttock-lifting nonchalance.
Much like the 208, it considers lateral loads a matter for lengthy contemplation rather than instant response; propping itself up against the lackadaisical turn in before the body settles jauntly into the line indicated by the chassis - then jolting gently upright half a second after you’ve wound the lock off.