_I'M _ confused. All my life I've mixed up Peugeot and Renault, those two big-hitters of the French car industry and brands I associate with small cars buzzing around the lanes of Provence.
But with medium SUV sales booming, Peugeot is thinking big and has released the 4008, which is muscling its way into a sector alongside the likes of the Nissan Dualis and Mitsubishi ASX.
Mention of the latter is apt, as the 4008 is based on the ASX and built in Japan by Mitsubishi, with the two sharing internal workings. But the Peugeot designers have smoothed off the ASX's angular edges to give it a sculpted appearance.
In fact, it's so curvy it looks more like the . . . Dualis.
Like I say, I'm confused.
Then there's the drive. I tested the Active 2.0 CVT automatic, which has an on-road price of $37,381 and gives the option of two or four-wheel-driving at the turn of a knob. But the petrol engine felt sluggish (it's official 0-100km/h figure in 2WD is 9.3 seconds) and the continuously variable transmission never seemed to find the right note as it moved up through its six gears.
I struggled with the steering, too, especially understeer round corners and at roundabouts. And the manual gearing paddles on the steering wheel may make you feel like you're an F1 driver, but they are so big they obscure the view of instruments behind.
Then there's the 4WD. This may be fine when you're faced with an icy hill in Paris in December but on the streets of Perth I didn't need it and on a spin out to Chittering it coped fine in 2WD.
Maybe I should have tested it on the beach, but this car doesn't have the body clearance of, say, a LandCruiser. I even managed to scrape its bottom on a kerb while reversing off a grass verge.
So save yourself just over $2000 and go for the 2WD-only version. Better still, the manual comes in at $28,990 plus on-roads.
But I'm confused here too. You can buy an entry-level ASX 2WD manual for a special $25,990 drive- away price just now and it's the same car underneath. And many, especially men, would prefer its more rugged looks.
And still . . . the more I drove the 4008, the more I liked it.
First, Peugeot has tweaked the suspension and it's an extremely comfortable ride. It eats up speed bumps and glided along those battered Chittering roads. That extra SUV driving height is always a bonus, too.
The cabin also has a quality look with its chrome, shiny plastics and snug half-leather, half-fabric seats. The steering wheel is amazingly tactile and I even corrected the understeer.
There's Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, wheel-mounted controls, hill assist, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, a parking radar and reversing camera inside the rear-view mirror - the perfect spot.
You also get a good-sized boot, plenty of space in the back for the kids and seven airbags.
The exterior also has tasty alloys and chrome touches, and with the Peugeot lion on your bonnet you will stand out from the SUV crowd (I only saw one other Pug of any kind on the road).
So go for the 2WD version and stick to the school run or shopping trips. Of that there can be no confusion.
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