ROAD TEST - Peugeot 4008 2.0 AWD Allure
Badge engineering has many negative connotations.
Perhaps we have companies like the former Samcor to blame for this. Remember those Mazdafords of the '90s? Legend has it that a man would stand on the end of the assembly line, tossing a coin with one hand and holding a box of Ford and Mazda badges in the other.
The good news is that modern badge engineering is often a lot better executed and the new Peugeot 4008 is a case in point. Like its Citroen C4 Aircross sister, the 4008 is basically a Mitsubishi ASX softroader that's been dressed up by the French.
Question is, has Peugeot added enough French flavour to this relatively tasteless, albeit solid, Japanese dish?
HEY GOOD LOOKING
In my humble opinion, they've done a good job on the outside. The front and rear doors and the mirrors may be shared but the rest of it is Peugeot's work and it's a stylish creation at that, from its 'aggressive feline' front to its smoothly elegant tail end.
Opinions will differ but it's surely a contender for the best looker in its segment.
These good vibes, unfortunately, don't flow into every corner of the cabin. Though Peugeot has treated soft-touch fanatics to a slab of slush-moulded plastic over the upper-central parts of the dash, it's very blatantly 'plucked on' to the Mitsubishi's hard bits. You still get a stylish Peugeot-specific steering wheel and instrument cluster, among other add-ons, and the overall effect is a strange collision of French and Japanese components.
The Allure model that features in this test has a hedonistic spec sheet, packing in everything you could want in this type of vehicle - leather seats (heated up front), climate control, cruise control, Bluetooth, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers - and even things you wouldn't expect, like free UFO sightings.
This comes courtesy of the huge panoramic glass roof with LED strips running lengthways, and this lighting show will come in very handy to amateur UFO photographers.
So a lot of what you can see and touch may be French, but the 4008's mechanicals are from Mitsubishi's branch of the family tree and although the good side of this coin is a reputation for solid reliability, the flip side is an engine and gearbox that put virtually no enjoyment into the equation.
The 4008 is chugged along by a 2-litre petrol engine that's credited with 110kW at 6000rpm and 197Nm at 4200rpm and, at best, the performance it provides only borders on adequate. Peugeot claims a 10.9-second 0-100km/h time, but against the clock at oxygen-starved Gauteng altitudes it took 13.0 seconds.
My biggest bugbear is the drony CVT gearbox, which makes the driving experience nothing less than monotonous and this is the only gearbox option available.
That said, a weekend trip into the country did reveal many strong points. For starters, it cruises very comfortably on the open road, where the rev counter ticks to a mere 2500rpm at around 120km/h.
The ride quality, both on tar and on the sections of rutted dirt road I covered, is also well within the good-enough category.
The 4008 is not what blue-blooded off-roaders would call a 'real 4x4', although it is well equipped for general off-roading.
Both models (Active and Allure) come with a three-mode all-wheel drive system which allows drivers to choose between 2WD, 4WD and Lock modes. While 4WD mode will send most of the power to the front wheels, Lock mode keeps it trapped in all-wheel drive configuration, which comes in handy on steep slopes and in other tricky conditions.
Stylish and well equipped as it may be, it appears that Peugeot is limiting the 4008's potential by pricing it at R388 500 for the Allure (Active is R363 900). Especially since Citroen sells lower-specced manual versions of its C4 Aircross from R269 900.
This stylish softroader could have great potential, but first Peugeot will need to offer a wider range of engines, gearboxes and spec levels. Burying that CVT gearbox somewhere deep in the ocean would no doubt also aid its cause.