Wednesday – A Pug That Bites

cropped-70572peu_2008_1301jbl026_2.jpg

Just occasionally a car comes along that truly surprises. The Peugeot 2008 is just that. Even though it can only pretend to be a 4×4 with raised ground clearance, scuff plates and beefy looks, it has turned out to be a capable machine.

Crossover vehicles try to be all things to all people – which is what makes them so popular with family buyers. However, sometimes the good things get diluted in an attempt to tick all the boxes.

The 2008 has some faults, like the pointless light display integrated into the roof lining, an annoying handbrake design and a rather lifeless drive but overall, the good points far outweigh the bad.

Here is a small family estate that will easily achieve 68mpg in everyday driving, is cheap to tax, can carry five adults AND their bags, and still manages to look pretty stylish on the outside. For £17,245, our 1.6 diesel looks like a great buy.

Sunday – A Man From Down Under

70572peu_2008_1301JBL010_2

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.

Thursday – What Does This Button Do?

cropped-728652_9520703697_0e4240081c_o.jpg

Motoring journalists don’t often admit to stuff like this but I will. After six days in the Chevrolet Trax, today I noticed a little button I hadn’t used before. It was hidden away at the bottom of the centre console and read ‘ECO’.

Hmm. No idea why Jessica or I hadn’t spotted it but it’s certainly easy to miss, below the level of the knob on the gearstick.

We’ve already found the 1.7 VCDi engine has plenty of torque and lively performance but with the ECO button turned off, well, the Trax is even more fun than it was before. I’d recommend driving with ECO off around town and along A-roads – then press it in for high-speed motorway journeys.

I’ve read some fairly uncomplimentary reviews of this Chevrolet SUV but as an overall package, I’m still a fan. It might bounce over potholes and lean into corners but there is plenty of fun to be had.

You will need to ignore the wind and tyre noise, especially at higher speeds, some of the interior trim is also a little on the cheap side too.

Trax remains a lot of car for the money. It has lots of storage compartments (I stopped counting at 19) and with the rear seats folded it can carry more than a Skoda Yeti or a Nissan Juke.

All the engines in the range are from the General Motors stable, so are well proven in Vauxhall and other Chevrolet models. Everything is backed up by a 100,000-mile, five year warranty.

Trax is also one of the few cars we have handed back lately with fuel in it – perhaps not surprising when you learn it is capable of 55+mpg on motorway trips.

So, if you like the styling and wants something a little different, an SUV that isn’t faultless but bags of fun, the Trax must be on your shopping list.

 

 

 

 

 

Friday – American Pie

728624_9520702305_2b5c859031_o

Chevrolet – it’s a name that conjures up images of all things American, from Bruce Springsteen to apple pie. Chevy is at the heart of it, famed for producing bold and brash cars that really don’t have any place on the streets of England.

Until now that is. Today there’s a whole range of smaller Chevrolets out there to back up the feel-good Corvette and Camaro. Newest of them all is the Trax. In the US it would probably be used as a golf buggy but here, Trax is classed as a small SUV and competes against cars like the Nissan Juke and Skoda Yeti.

Chevrolet has the advantage of a great name though (would you rather own up to driving a Skoda or a Chevy?) and they’ve used it to full effect with the largest darn grille you will see this side of the Mississippi.

It’s the only feature that is big, bold and brash about this little car. You can’t miss it and the grille sets up the rest of the car’s curvy shape nicely. Our bright blue example seems a steal at under £19,000 and with a frugal diesel engine capable of more than 60mpg, what’s not to like about this baby Chevy so far?