At least that’s what Sime Darby, distributor of the Gallic brand, is hoping following the launch of the new 4008, available in both two and four-wheel drive, and with prices that are as keen as, well, Dijon mustard!
Essentially, the 4008 is a Mitsubishi ASX that’s been tweaked by Peugeot to reflect French style, both inside and out, as well as European quality ride and handling.
Three versions will be available: a front-wheel drive Active version at $37,990, a mid-range Allure model (also FWD) for $39,990 and a top-line Feline 4x4 model at $45,990.
All come with a 110kW/197Nm petrol engine linked to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) which as well as being fully automatic also has six set points to give a 6-speed manual gearbox feel via steering wheel mounted paddles or the floor-mounted gear lever.
Trim levels are high in all three models, with the Feline taking top honours with leather upholstery, electrically-operated and heated front seats, and xenon lights.
However the Allure is expected to be the hot seller, says Sime Darby general manager Grant Smith, making up about 60 percent of total sales. He said the 4008 was pegged mainly for sale outside Europe, with New Zealand and Australia among the first in the world to get it. However there will be no diesel model here as Peugeot only makes this with manual transmission, which is not favoured by Kiwi drivers.
So what’s changed from the ASX?
On the outside the bonnet, headlights, front wings, grille, mudguards, wheels, rear apron, and tailgate; the only carryover, apart from the powertrain, being the central bodyshell, side doors and glass. Inside Peugeot has re-skinned the dashboard and door toppings with soft-touch material, as well as adding its own leather-trimmed steering wheel, which comes complete with remote audio controls across all models.
As mentioned trim levels are high, with even the baseline Active getting a height-adjustable driver’s seat, remote central locking, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, climate control aircon, electric windows and mirrors, 6-speaker audio system with USB and aux jack input, air-conditioned glovebox, trip computer, multi-function display, tinted rear windows, and a ski-flap between the rear seats – which also recline and have 60/40 split.
With a full-size spare, boot space is 384 litres with the seats up, 1219 litres with them flat. Both front and rear fog lights are fitted, as well as LED daytime running lights.
On the safety front there are no fewer than seven airbags, plus an electronic stability programme, and hill assist anti-slip feature, giving a 5-star EuroNcap safety rating (ASX).
Moving up the Allure adds a full-length panoramic roof, 18 inch alloy wheels, plus chrome roof bars and chrome sills.
On the Feline the 4WD system is on-demand, with up to 80 percent of drive available to the rear wheels when required.
Claimed average fuel consumption for the FWD versions is 7.9L/100km for 185g/km CO2 emissions, and 8.1L/100km (192g/km) for the 4x4, with 0-100km/h in 10.2 secs and 10.9 secs respectively.
Only the Feline versions were available at the launch of the new vehicles in Queenstown, and we were impressed by the high standards of fit and finish.
However, it was on the tight and twisting roads up into the mountains and over the Crown Range that we really became impressed. From the summit we went down to Wanaka via Cardrona, returning via Cromwell and the Kawarau Gorge.
A great drive, and enough to show just how much the French engineers have worked on the suspension to improve both ride and handling. Naturally we also made good use of the heating in cold weather conditions that saw ice-covered puddles in places!
In all, proof that changing a whole lot of little (and not-so-little) things can make a totally different whole.
At the moment the 4008 joins its larger brother, the 4007, with which it shares the basic platform and running gear– same wheelbase, shorter front and rear – as Peugeot’s SUV models, but will become the sole offering when the latter is discontinued towards the end of the year.