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Peugeot Philippines launches SUV assault

The French car brand has awakened, so to speak

Peugeot Philippines has launched not just one but three new SUV models. PHOTO FROM PEUGEOT

When Peugeot hosted me and a few colleagues at last year’s Paris Motor Show, the centerpiece of the French automaker’s booth was the all-new 3008 compact crossover SUV. It was complemented by the bigger 5008 midsize SUV, which had been an MPV in its previous iteration, and the 2008 subcompact crossover. Those vehicles formed a fearsome three-pronged threat that any Peugeot distributor overseas would love to have.

Peugeot was clearly following market forecasts that projected global SUV sales to exceed 21 million units by 2020, with 40% of all vehicles sold in that year expected to be SUVs. In that case, I thought, Peugeot was well-positioned to succeed in the coming years. To be more specific, Peugeot Philippines would be strategically armed to do competitive battle in our SUV-crazy market. Here at last was the heaven-sent product line the company had been hoping for.

Alas, the three SUVs never came. Eleven months of 2017 whizzed by without so much as a trace of the trio’s shadow. Peugeot Philippines president Glen Dasig attributes this to the great success of the SUVs in other (read: much larger and hence more important) markets. With the models enjoying a resurgence in Europe, Dasig says demand across Peugeot’s home continent had to be prioritized. And with our country accounting for fewer than 500 units per year (based on 2016 numbers), you can be sure Peugeot CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato won’t be falling over himself to ship allocated units to our shores.

What matters is here and now: Peugeot is sending three new SUV models our way

Thankfully, as you read this, the three Peugeot SUVs have landed in our territory. Perhaps sales in Europe have cooled. Perhaps production has increased. Who cares? All of that is water under the bridge. What matters is here and now: Peugeot is sending new SUVs our way. This was the big news during a recent launch event held at Peugeot’s main showroom in Pasig City. The question now is this: Will Filipinos embrace these products considering their positioning and pricing?

The subcompact 2008 is powered by an International Engine of the Year awardee. PHOTO FROM PEUGEOT

There’s the small, face-lifted 2008, a stylish urban mover powered by a 1.2-liter gasoline engine which Peugeot Philippines says is the same three-cylinder turbocharged unit that topped the “1.0-liter to 1.4-liter” category in the 2017 International Engine of the Year Awards. The distributor, pointing out that the 2008 will have “limited availability” in 2018, already quotes a final price: P1,490,000.

The all-new compact 3008 is the 2017 European Car of the Year. PHOTO FROM PEUGEOT

There’s the 2017 European Car of the Year, the compact 3008, which we drove in Italy last year. Of Peugeot’s latest SUV batch, we find this model to be the most promising—the one that has the most potential for success in spite of a rather steep price tag (P2,590,000 for just one variant, the 3008 GT Line 1.6L THP). We were hoping to see the excellent BlueHDi diesel engine we had tried in Europe, but compatibility issues with fuel quality in the Philippines are still being sorted out.

The midsize seven-seater 5008 is now a proper SUV after having spent its previous life as an MPV. PHOTO FROM PEUGEOT

And then there’s the officially classified midsize (but visually massive) 5008, a seven-seater that has morphed into an SUV from its former MPV body. Compared to its aesthetically boring predecessor, the new model is said to be 110mm wider with 60mm more legroom for the second-row passengers. No engine specs or pricing was announced during the launch—no doubt because Peugeot Philippines is waiting for the final excise tax revision like the rest of us—but shiny features appear to have the capability to lure buyers, including the new-generation i-Cockpit.

At the recent fuel economy run organized by the Department of Energy, the three Peugeot SUVs submitted the following figures in the gasoline category: 20.19km/L for the 2008, 16.84km/L for the 3008 and 18.54km/L for the 5008. We said no official engine specs had been released for the 5008, but data from the DOE eco run showed that the family SUV had a 1,199cc engine, the same displacement as that of the 2008.

Are Filipinos ready for French SUVs positioned as premium lifestyle models? Time—and supply—will tell.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist for 26 years. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.