Peugeot 2008

CAR REVIEW: Peugeot 2008 Crossover

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Soft-Roaders, Remember them? Not so long ago car manufacturers the world over convinced us that what we really needed to do the shopping in were curvy, less square looking four-wheel drives that sometimes weren’t really four-wheel drive at all. No mid-nineties suburban driveway or school-run was complete without a Toyota RAV-4, a Honda CR-V, a Ford Maverick, or first generation Freelander complete with a roof-bar or two. The roads were awash with pseudo off-roaders that never really ventured off-road at all. We were smitten; we bought them in their droves.

And we still do. You might be surprised to know that Nissan’s Qashqai came in at number six on the top-ten best selling cars in the UK last year. Yes, family favourites such as Ford’s Fiesta and Focus still took the two top spots and the Wolfsberg Wunderkind, the VW Golf, was at Number 5, but all things considered in 2013 it was the dual-purpose SUV’s, or Crossovers as they’ve become known, that gained the largest growth in market share.  It’s no wonder then, that even car makers not usually associated with go anywhere vehicles want a piece of the action. These days Peugeot are also building SUV’s for suburbs.

By stretching their chic little 208 both in length and width, and then also raising its ride height, Peugeot have created the 2008: The crossover for the Urban Adventurer – well that’s what the brochure says anyway. With its squared-off wheel arches, bluffer more vertical grille, and roof rails as standard, it certainly looks the part. Whether that part is actually good looking or not I’ll let you decide. Overall the design is a little bit busy in places, especially the roofline, but nonetheless the 2008 looks are never what you’d call unpleasant.

If you’ve not sat inside a Peugeot for a while then the 2008’s interior will be a revelation, both in terms of the quality of the materials used and the overall attractiveness. Piano black inserts and satin paint finishes abound. Layout wise, it’s exactly as per the 208 on which it’s based although the aircraft throttle-esque handbrake does comes as a surprise – still at least it’s not electric.

Higher range variants get luxuries such as heated seats, auto lights and wipers, and dual-zone air-con. And most of the minor controls, radio, trip-computer and the like are taken care of by the nicely integrated touch-screen atop the dash.  An altogether loftier driving position also means that despite the French manufacturer’s insistence of fitting a side-plate-sized steering wheel the 2008 is the first of the new breed of Peugeots I’ve driven in which you can actually see all of the dials all of the time. If your budget stretches to either Allure or Feline spec the dial’s surrounds are LED lit too, as is, in our particular case, the headlining.

What you won’t get though, whichever 2008 you choose, is four-wheel drive. 2008s only have one powered axle, and that’s the front one. They do get mud and snow tyres as standard in a bid to further enhance their out-doorsy credentials and Grip Control is an option.

After reading that now you’re wondering what Grip Control is?  Let me explain: Grip Control is an alternative to the part-time all-wheel drive systems favored by some of the 2008’s rivals. By adjusting the position of a very Land Rover-style dial on the 2008’s centre console you can select Snow, Off-Road, Mud, Sand or ESP Off settings for the traction and stability controls. Unless you’re intentions are to venture well and truly off-piste this altogether lighter system should be more than capable of helping you avoid any sticky situations.

Peugeot also claim that, thanks in part to the weight saving advantages of fitting Grip Control rather than the extra oily bits of a more traditional four-wheel drive set-up, in HDI 115 guise (as tested – and probably the pick of the range) the 2008 is good for over 70 mpg. After a week in the 2008’s company I’d suggest mid 50’s mpg are a more realistic day-to-day suggestion.  Still, that’s nothing to complain about and performance wise the 1.6 litre diesel won’t embarrass you either on the motorway or on the daily commute.

All things considered, the 2008 is a more practical alternative to the 208 on which it’s based, and it’s nearly as good to drive. There’s more room in the back and there’s more room in the boot. And, when you consider the price gap between the two models is only around £800, as an all-rounder it actually makes more sense. Whether or not it’s the ideal the SUV depends on what exactly you want your SUV to do. Some of the 2008’s competitors offer better off-road ability and “proper” four wheel drive, whilst others are decidedly more car-like both in their appearance and their off-road abilities.

Quite where, or indeed if, the 2008 will enter the best selling car top-ten of 2014 remains to be seen, but from where I’ve been sitting for the last week I’d say Peugoet definitely Peugeot have more of a hit than a miss.

Peugeot 2008 Feline 1.6HDi 115

Engine: 1560cc, 4Cyl, 8V Turbo-diesel.
Transmission: 6 speed. FrontWheel Drive (with Grip Control)
Power: 115 bhp @ 3600rpm
Torque: 199 lbft @1750 rpm
0-62mph: 10.4 sec
Max Speed: 117mph
MPG: 70.6 combined.
CO2: 106g/km
VED Band: B
Price: from £19,145
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