Tuesday – Slippery Customer

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The very thought of using a two-wheel drive car effectively in mud, sand and snow is a tough one to get your head around. That’s especially true if it’s a modest family estate from Peugeot with model names live Active, Allure and Feline!

This week I’ve been trying to find some suitable ‘dirt’ to put the 2008 to the test. There’s a long, rutted track that I use to run down near Warminster and so I’ve used it to try out the car’s Grip Control dial.

The system is designed to maximise traction in low grip conditions. It adapts the 2008 to the terrain – just like a traction control system on a ‘proper’ 4×4.

My off-road route isn’t blessed with sand and snow (yet) but in mud mode, the 2008 scrambled along with remarkable agility, even if the rear end wandered a little in the process.

If you want a full-on four-wheel drive car, there are plenty to choose from. But let’s face it, how often do you actually use 4×4? It’s such a long time since I slipped my Land Rover into four-wheel drive that when I do, I have to read the instructions first!

So, for occasional, light off-road use, the Peugeot 2008 shouldn’t be written off as just a tame estate car pretending to look macho. It also has the benefits of remarkable fuel economy – something you won’t find in a full-time 4WD.

Sunday – A Clear Round

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The car park at Gatcombe Horse Trials today was a mass of four-wheel drives and Volvo estates. So turning up in a Peugeot 208 with a large dog in the back raised a few eyebrows. I like to think it was because the GTi is so new on the market that it still has the novelty factor.

Fortunately, it was ‘hard going’ in the car park field, as I’m not sure the 208 has enough ground clearance to get over the rough stuff. Next week Car Couture is testing the new 2008 crossover, which would really be more at home among the mass of Land Rovers and 4x4s on display.

Driving to Gatcombe at least made my mind up on one point – the 208 GTi really is perfect for the sweeping corners of the Cotswolds. It sits squat and firm on the road, with minimal body roll and excellent brakes. Only the extra firm sports seats seem a little too harsh for comfort at times.

And while the GTi really isn’t about practicalities, I should add that the 208 has a decent sized boot, plus lots of cubbyholes and storage spaces. A nice touch is a pair of USB ports in the centre console – much more sensible than a single slot in this multimedia age.

Thursday – Brand Power

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Jessica  The Mitsubishi GX5 is a curious car. On guessing the price I was wildly inaccurate as the drive quality and slightly bizarre choice of trimmings didn’t lead me to believe I was driving a car that sells in the £34,000 price bracket.

Talking about trimmings, there is retro and there is ‘why use old design…’ This car has an old style automatic gear stick which reminds me (vaguely) of the old red Jaguar my Father drove in the 1980s with it’s super 8 casettes. This, however, is a strangely cheap copy and looks out of place among the modern gadgetry.

Looking at cars and prices below is a random selection of seven-seaters which made me wonder where and how this Mitsubshi model competes…

Jeep Grand Cherokee £36,995.00

Volvo XC90 £36,865

Land Rover Discovery GS SDV6 3.0 AUTOMATIC £38,850

My biggest difficulty was the slow responds under acceleration and spongy steering. I would have happily swapped fewer gadgets and alarms for a better driving experience.

That said, the Outlander doesn’t look bad from the outside with its sleek lines. It’s also well considered from all angles.

I must say that after many years of visiting Badminton Horse Trials and seeing the sponsorship logos, I always imagined Mitsubishi was at the utilitarian end of the 4×4 market. It obviously has a healthy approach to country living and moving various types of livestock around the country. Such is the power of marketing!

Thursday – A Big Discovery

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Jessica This car is a big step up from the Discovery of old. It feels solid, sorted and safe. The box shape does not work for me, utilitarian yes, aesthetic  no. Even though the bonnet is chunky and reflects the same look as a Range Rover, it definitely lacks a sense of style at the rear.

It’s easy to fall down when designing a dashboard. However, the retro wood finish ties neatly in with current online graphic trends (examples can be seen on Issuu.com) and will appeal to 70’s furniture enthusiasts. Combine this with lozenges of brushed chrome and you have a potential design classic interior.

Internally, the Discovery is very comfortable. The stitching is not overdone and it’s a pleasure to drive on either long or short journeys. Responsive, powerful with the all-important, armchair-style comfortable seats. It feels a little like sitting in a large comfortable office ( which rarely exist now, perhaps we do more work on the move these days, so it is appropriate!)

I know it has already been mentioned in terms of the current Jaguar range but the automatic  transmission dial is tactile, smoothly glides up when the car starts and feels thoroughly modern. It works just as well  in the Land Rover.

The Discovery is still ideal for pony clubbers and sport lovers alike, even campers – just make sure you do not have long nails as there is no chance of using the touch screen sat nav if you are fond of a well turned out hand!

Friday – A Sound Machine

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Jeremy  The Adam is aimed at a youth market – so in a bid to feel 21 again, I’ve been listening at Absolute 80s Radio on the baby Vauxhall’s thumping stereo. It sounds great – even Dire Straits!

It’s amazing how in-car entertainment systems have become so good. DAB helps of course but using Bluetooth to ‘suck’ music from my phone to the unit is another simple and safe benefit. No fiddling with CDs, USB cables or AUX-in wires.

For a little car, the Adam boxes above its weight in the infotainment department. A touchscreen display makes it even easier to use, although there was no sat nav in our test car.

I’ve just returned from a couple of days sea-kayaking in Scotland and at Bristol Airport, I had a real struggle finding the Adam. In fact, I thought it had been stolen when I couldn’t see it in the car park. The car is so small, it was completely hidden being a Range Rover Sport and Ford Focus.

The boot area is just big enough for two large rucksacks and not much else. Dropping the split-fold back seats helps but for a long weekend away, this is really a car that is only big enough for two adults and all their kit. At least it’s big on style.