“See the City in a different light” is the strap-line used by Peugeot at the UK launch their new 2008. Succinct and catchy, it tells you who they’re aiming their new crossover at and where they think it will be used.
It might be honest but does anyone actually need a taller, bigger version of the 208 for use in the city? After all, aren’t the drawbacks of that extra size reduced manoeuvrability, higher fuel consumption, and a higher price greater than the advantages, especially in urban use where, for example, the increased ride height will rarely be a benefit?
I was invited to the Birmingham launch to explore these and other questions. I got answers, and not just those that I was expecting.
The French-built 2008 looks like any one of a number of modern crossovers, even if it does have more than a few intriguing details. The roofline, for example, sweeps up a la Land Rover Discovery while the window line is familiarly narrow; the early styling sketches that we were shown bore an uncanny resemblance to the Evoque…
Yet the result is anything but derivative and clearly echoes the new Peugeot look: Motion and Emotion might be a slogan that is easy to mock but it rolls off the tongue nicely and sets the tone for a brand of cars that is currently outperforming market averages; UK sales are up by 19% year-on-year.
Peugeot has set its sights far higher than Europe, though. The 2008 was designed as a world car and is expected to do well internationally, not least in the emerging markets of Latin America and China that are so crucial to all car manufacturers today.
The first thing you notice about the interior of the 2008 is same comedy small steering wheel you get in the 208. Hmmm.
That aside, the use of materials and colours is bold and appealing with brown faux-carbon, for example, used on the dashboard. Tactility and bold lines define the theme and work well.
The front seats are supportive and comfortable and the adjustment range means that most drivers will be able to achieve a decent driving position, even if taller drivers will curse the steering wheel that partially blocks the instruments. Rear seat leg- and headroom is good and if the rear seats aren’t the most comfortable in the world they do fold flat giving a very useful 1,172 litres of boot space.
Four trim levels are available: Access+, Active, Allure, and Feline with the usual equipment available at the usual price points: see your local Peugeot dealer (or, more likely, their website) for details.
Gripes? The handbrake is a very odd design and is awkward to release and the steering wheel is too small. But then I have mentioned that already, haven’t I?
The 2008 drives very well. It steers, stops, and corners as well as the best in its class with no apparent penalty for that increased size and ride height. The ride is good too and its quiet at speed; it wont get your heart beating faster but adrenaline isn’t in the design brief for B-segment cars.
It is, however, easily as good as it needs to be to compete with the big boys; there are very few bad cars on sale today and the decision to buy one car over another is driven more often by the purchase price, manufacturer benefits (such as Peugeots excellent Just Add Fuel), and image than because one car is notably better in its dynamic ability. But the 2008 does have one very real ace up its sleeve and it is one that instantly catapults the 2008 to the very top of the pile: Grip Control.
Grip Control, which will be standard on about 60% of cars sold here in the UK and is similar in operation to the Fiat Panda Trekking’s Traction+, is activated automatically depending on the conditions underfoot. It can also be dialled in using a rotary controller a bit like the one in modern Land Rovers and has settings for sand, mud, snow, and roads.
Operating only on the front, driven wheels it modulates traction using the brakes and its effects are nothing short of miraculous. I drove up and down an indoor ski slope and the traction – helped, it has to be said, by the standard fit Goodyear all-weather, all-season tyres was remarkable. Yes, there was some wheel spin but I climbed the slope and descended in complete control. Thus equipped, no family would be stranded by even severe winter road conditions.
I drove the four-cylinder diesel-engined1.6 e-HDi with 115bhp and the 82bhp three-cylinder petrol-engined 1.2 VTi. They are, like the 208, very different cars to drive, with the three-pot feeling sprightly and lively where the diesel-engined car feels more grown-up and planted.
The diesel is faster too, reaching 62mph from rest in 10.4 seconds (13.5 seconds for the petrol) and going on to a top speed of 117mph (105mph).
The diesel is also more economical, returning up to 70.6mpg (v. 57.6mpg). Its only drawbacks seem to be a higher initial purchase price and the loss of the lovely half-NASCAR growl of the three-cylinder petrol engine.
Also available are a 1.4 HDi with 70bhp and a 1.6 VTi with 120bhp alongside a 92bhp version of the 1.6 e-HDi.
Value for Money
The 2008 range starts at 12,995 for the 1.2 VTi in Access+ trim rising to 19,195 for a top-of-the-range 1.6 e-HDi with Stop Start and Feline trim. On average, it costs about 800 to step up from a 208 into an equivalent 2008 and the increased bad-weather mobility alone justifies that.
I’ve already mentioned Peugeots Just Add Fuel scheme, which rolls together leasing costs, vehicle excise duty, insurance, servicing, and roadside assistance. The costs for the 2008 are 219 for a basic 1.2 VTi rising to 295 for the top-spec 1.6 e-HDi. Its an attractive package that takes the uncertainty out of motoring and can, for young drivers especially, be a very cheap route into a new car.
I don’t normally like crossovers: too high, too heavy, and with too few advantages over the hatchback on which they are usually based. That the 2008 offers so much more than the 208, and is so much more useful (and not only in its carrying capacity), is a clear indication that the engineers at Peugeot understand how, and why, people use their cars as they do.
For those who don’t want the complexity, cost, and efficiency penalties that come with a proper four-wheel-drive system the 2008 is a fine choice. Most crossovers (and SUVs, for that matter) are only ever used to cross muddy car-parks, explore rough tracks, and keep the family mobile in snowy weather and the 2008 will cope with conditions as adverse as any sane owner is ever likely to venture out in. Highly recommended.
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