Monday – Space Talk

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If you have a tape measure to hand, here’s an interesting statistic. The Peugeot 2008 is 20cm longer than the 208 supermini. I mention that because the 360 litres of space in the rear is a lot more than the profile of the 2008 suggests.

And what gives the 2008 the edge over other crossover vehicles is the low loading lip. I was up at Longleat forest this morning, buying supplies of wood for the winter. As brilliant as my old Land Rover is for carrying large bags of wood and coal, you do have to swing the sacks high to get them into the rear. The Peugeot is granny-friendly in that respect at least.

And while we are on the subject of practicality, the 2008 somehow manages to seat three, tall adults in the rear too, with a decent amount of legroom as well.

Less encouraging is the lack of storage in the centre console. There is a large space that takes a bottle of water behind the handbrake but the two cupholders are useless because of their positioning under the dashboard. A smaller tray for keys is also made inaccessible by the handbrake!

 

Sunday – A Man From Down Under

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One of the Australian branch of Jessica’s extensive family is in England at the moment. Young Freddie is a twentysomething chap who lives in Perth and works out his fuel economy in miles per kilometer. What better person to cast a youthful eye over the 2008?

I have to admit, I truly thought Freddie would dismiss the Peugeot at first glance – after all, he’s used to driving proper 4x4s and utility vehicles. But surprisingly, Freddie seemed to like the pseudo off-road image of the 2008.

Australian’s also aren’t used to stop-start engine technology, designed to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy. I suppose that’s because once you are out of an Australian city, you don’t have to stop very often.

Freddie was pretty amazed by the 67mpg we managed in the Peugeot today, although we couldn’t quite work out what it was in kilometres.

The 2008 is continuing to go up in my estimations too. It feels more comfortable on the road than the Nissan Juke and there is less wallow on fast corners. I think noise levels and general refinement would improve with a six-speed gearbox and the larger diesel engine – otherwise it should be on your list to test drive if you are searching for a crossover vehicle.

Freddie won’t be buying one though. He couldn’t fit his surfboards in the back.

Saturday – No Legs

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You know that feeling on a dual carriageway when you move out to overtake and realise the power just isn’t there? That happened today when  the 92bhp 2008 just didn’t have the legs to get past a lowly old Volvo.

I can’t say our 1.6 diesel feels sluggish around town but at motorways speeds, you really need the 115bhp model – or the 1.6 VTi petrol that produces 120bhp.

The 2008 isn’t a car that I’ve really warmed to yet. It feels more like a small minibus than an innovative, mini estate that will fulfil the motoring requirements of Peugeot’s global family.

It just doesn’t have enough going for it to put it above the crowd of urban crossovers out there, like the funky Renault Captur and the bug-eyed Nissan Juke.

A car like this needs more than a crazy interior headlining and a rather annoying aircraft-style handbrake lever.

 

Friday – The Startling Truth

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Last night I travelled to Salisbury to interview the wonderfully charismatic scientist, Dame Wendy Hall.  Her team invented an internet system that pre-dated the web and we sat in her garden chatting until dusk. Waving goodbye, I squeezed past her Jaguar XF and started up the 2008.

As I looked back over my shoulder, I was startled to discover the roof ‘wave’ decoration cut into the headlining was illuminated brightly by LEDs in the dark! It’s quite the most bizarre design feature I’ve encountered in any car for years. Peugeot would call it a unique selling point but I would have preferred that part of my £17,245 to have been spent on a sat nav system instead.

Equally as startling but in a rather more appealing way was the fuel economy I achieved driving back from Salisbury. Car manufacturers make claims about fuel consumption that are impossible to match but without even trying I managed a quite incredible 68.8mpg!

This figure, of course, has now given me the incentive to go for my highest mpg ever – the magic 70mpg! I have driven on several fuel economy events in the past and been pleased with 50mpg but the 2008’s consumption was in normal conditions.

Which means I didn’t have to push the door mirrors in and take off the windscreen wipers to improve aerodynamics – or remove the seats to reduce weight!

Thursday – Ripping Yarn

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If a car looks like a four-wheel drive then shouldn’t it be a 4×4? Does the estate version of the Peugeot 208 need to be ‘jacked up’ so high off the ground and why has a very large cat scratched inside the headlining on my 2008 test car?

These are just a few of the questions Car Couture will be seeking to answer over the next week that we drive the 2008 crossover.

Let’s start with the ‘ripped’ headlining. This is, according to Peugeot, a ‘roof wave – an exclusive roof decoration that cuts through the cloth to the metal above. I can’t help wondering if it will still be stuck firmly in place ten years down the road. Maybe it pays visual tribute to the Feline model, a trim above our Allure version…

The 4×4 issue will have to wait until I can find some dirt to play in but I rather like the raised height of the 2008. Combined with a low loading lip, it makes the car exceptionally easy to pack. Which is good because I’m off to Longleat to load up with wood for the October that lies ahead…

Wednesday – Talking Two Tone

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Jessica ‘GTI‘ reminds me of the late eighties when it was de rigour for young sporty lads to have one. It was a label for the fast, cut above the rest model but was always attached to a sensible car.

This Peugeot is all that a GTI should be, it drives in a sophisticated way with responsive steering, well calibrated gears, good brakes and speed.  The combination of all those have come together to make this an enjoyable car to drive.

That combined with an straightforward console and intuitive touch screen display. It’s a system that didn’t require me to sit in a layby trying every option and button possible to use the satnav or change stations on the radio.

I was very intrigued to see that it is possible to create two tone dash and door handles, from a (slightly grating) red fading to black. This opens up a world of possibilities for car interiors.

I am surprised it has not been exploited in a bigger way. Of course, there is a danger that it could all get very messy and the inside of your car could end up looking like a childrens play area. However, in the right hands it could all be very exiting.

So I will be a little sad to say good bye to the lads’ (and lasses, it seems) GTI…

Tuesday – Keep It Simple

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I’m not a huge fan of electronic power steering because it just doesn’t have the same ‘feel’ as a conventional set up. You lose some of the feedback between the road and the steering wheel, which is so important in a lively little car like the 208 GTi.

What it does ensure in the 208 is that the car is refined and comfortable at low speed – before you blip the accelerator and unleash 200bhp of road-going entertainment.

Then the electric power steering does kill some of the enjoyment but not so much as to prove a major disappointment. It’s that fine balance between refinement and thrills that every designer  of a hot hatchback must struggle with.

Make no mistake, Peugeot’s latest GTi is an absolute joy to drive on a winding A-road. It’s agile, nimble and very quick. However, lose the electronic power steering and it could be a legendary performer, just like the original 205 it reminds me so much of.