If you're looking at the new Peugeot 4008 compact crossover, the elephant in the room is small, Japanese and wears three diamonds around its neck. Because the 4008 is really a Mitsubishi ASX in disguise.
There's no problem with that, as long as we're all on the same page. During the media launch for the new Peugeot, local importer Sime Darby was pretty up front about it. Company executives even went so far as to point out which bits come from where. Whether your local dealer will be quite as honest is another matter, however.
For the record, the Peugeot-specific parts on the outside of the 4008 are the exterior panels, bar the roof and doors. They've actually done a nice job of the outside; the 4008 looks pretty sharp. And just pretty, really.
Inside, the interior is Mitsubishi except for a token change to the instrument binnacle shape and the plastic trim that covers it. Nothing wrong with the overall package, but the job by Peugeot is less nice in there, obviously.
Underneath, the platform, 110kW/197Nm 2.0-litre engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT) are carried over. The suspension has been slightly retuned and the tracks are slightly wider.
All of which makes the 4008 only slightly different from an ASX. That's disappointing after the previous 4007, which was a revamped Mitsubishi Outlander (which the ASX is based upon anyway), but had some significant detail changes: French diesel engine, fantastic Japanese dual-clutch gearbox, better seats, that sort of thing. The 4007, by the way, is no more. Confusingly, the 4008 does not strictly replace it, as the new car is smaller and has five seats rather than seven.
The 4008 is offered in three specification levels: Active, Allure and the curiously named Feline, at very attractive prices from $37,990 to $45,990. We tested the top-line Feline, but all of the action is expected to be at Allure level.
Equipment levels are remarkably similar across the range. The standout items for the Allure over the entry car are 18-inch wheels, a glass roof and chrome sills. The Active and Allure are both front-drive only. The Feline gets all-wheel drive, leather and gas-discharge headlights, but loses the glass roof.
It's a curious thing, the 4008. Obviously a marriage of convenience, but strangely similar in size/price to the 3008. Yet totally different in styling and concept. The 3008, by the way, has been trimmed down to a single model with the arrival of the 4008.
To drive? Just like an ASX. Who'd have thought? Actually, that's a bit unfair, because the French car is quieter and corners with more assurance. Consider the looks and the fact that the 4008 offers more for your money, and it's a tempting proposition in this context.
But it's not the driver's delight you might be expecting of a Peugeot. The 2.0-litre engine is coarse, the CVT noisy and erratic when hustled along. CVT is not very French at all. Neither is a model range with no diesel option (the ASX offers one and it's fantastic, by the way).
Sime Darby could have had a diesel 4008, but it only comes with a manual gearbox and would theoretically not find favour in New Zealand. Shame, as that could be a really good car.