Refreshed Peugeot is nippy but a tad dated

The Peugeot 2008 1.2 PureTech offers a plush ride despite it being a small car.
The Peugeot 2008 1.2 PureTech offers a plush ride despite it being a small car.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
The Peugeot 2008 1.2 PureTech offers a plush ride despite it being a small car.
The Peugeot 2008 1.2 PureTech offers a plush ride despite it being a small car.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

The Peugeot 2008 1.2 PureTech is equipped with a responsive Japanese six-speed autobox

Lard has made a comeback to the local food scene because when it comes to taste, there is no substitute for it. Some studies are even debunking the link between lard and heart attacks.

Likewise, traditional automatic transmissions are making a comeback to the Peugeot fold because they are a lot more driveable.

And while their semi-automatic counterparts may be cheaper and more fuel-efficient, they are also more likely to cause cardiac arrests because they are infuriatingly unpredictable and jerky.

The latest Peugeot model to benefit from a torque converter autobox is the 2008 - a compact hatchback with a crossover styling. Its six-speed automatic gearbox is supplied by Aisin, a leading Japanese components specialist.

Although not as seamless as a dual-clutch or a continuously variable transmission, the 2008's Aisin gearbox is far easier to live with than the previous semi-automatic which, to be fair, was not too bad as far as robotised manuals go.

  • SPECS / PEUGEOT 2008 1.2 PURETECH

  • Price: $101,900 with COE

    Engine: 1,199cc 12-valve inline-3 turbocharged

    Transmission: Six-speed automatic with manual override

    Power: 110bhp at 5,500rpm

    Torque: 205Nm at 1,500rpm

    0-100kmh: 9.9 seconds

    Top speed: 188kmh

    Fuel consumption: 4.8 litres/100km

    Agent: AutoFrance

The new gearbox is suitably responsive and makes clever use of the relatively modest output from the 2008's 110bhp 1.2-litre three- cylinder engine.

Whether driven leisurely or with pedal to the metal, the transmission finds the appropriate cog relatively quickly and usually sticks with it for as long as is necessary.

On account of that, the 2008 is nippy on the go and often feels quicker than its stated 9.9-second century sprint suggests.

There is a hint of judder at lower engine speeds when the gearbox resists downshifting - perhaps to optimise efficiency. On that score, the 2008 1.2 is not too shoddy with a stated economy of 4.8 litres/ 100km, compared with 3.8 lites for its 1.6-litre 92bhp turbodiesel twin equipped with a semi-automatic.

The new variant of the 2008 is also very road tax-friendly. At 1,199cc, its annual levy is merely $508, while its turbodiesel predecessor attracted more than 2.5 times that amount.

Since its debut here three years ago, the 2008 has undergone a cosmetic facelift. The most prominent change is to its frontal area, which is now adorned with a more upright and somewhat more aggressive grille. This makes it look more like a crossover than before.

The car remains as comfortable and versatile as before. Its ride is plush for a small car and it is surprisingly roomy too.

Its features are equally surprising. Its 7-inch touchscreen monitor offers mirroring of the driver's smartphone, allowing easy access to navigation, messages, music and other smartphone applications.

Besides voice commands, a multi-function steering wheel allows the driver to make calls without taking his hands off the wheel.

The Peugeot, however, still has a couple of dated functions. One is its cruise control/speed limiter fob and the other is a key-based access and ignition.

Both are rather old school and a tad inconvenient. But they are not as unfriendly to use as a semi-automatic transmission.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2016, with the headline 'Smoother operator'. Print Edition | Subscribe