TEST DRIVE: Peugeot 2008

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Steve Sharpe test drives Peugeot’s 2006 crossover

The Peugeot 2008 follows on from the crossover success of the 3008, taking the 208 supermini, adding an extra 0, making it bigger, more able to look after itself when the weather turns nasty and adding a more rugged look.

Peugeot 2008

Peugeot 2008

It uses the same chassis, engines and cabin fixtures from the popular supermini, which means it’s building on a proven formula.

One of the main selling points is that the 2008 only adds a £1,000 or so on to the cost of a five-door 208.

So is it worth handing over more of your hard-earned cash?

Well, maybe, as the 2008 has a lot going for it.

It will have to, because the urban crossover market is dominated by Nissan’s Juke at the moment, and that will take some toppling from pole position.

And there are other models creeping up, like the funky and colourful Renault Captur, which will be vying for a share of the market.

Looks are always important in the small car sector and the 2008 is a striking-looking car.

It bears a similarity to its hatchback sibling but has been lifted, is wider and longer than the 208, and appears more sculpted – altogether more of a bruiser.

Despite retaining the same stylish headlight clusters, smart front grille and flanks, the heightened road stance and increased dimensions make it seem a different model completely.

Slip inside the cabin and things are incredibly slick. The first thing that strikes you is the small steering wheel, which seems a little incongruous in what is quite a large dashboard.

But it’s deliberately been retained from the 208, and it does mean that you get full view of the instruments behind it. The instrument panel, and indeed the whole of the interior, can’t fail to impress, and Peugeot have really piled on the style.

The rev counter and the speed gauge are set directly in front of the driver, and beautifully lit in a pale blue and white LED lighting scheme.

The touch-screen satnav is well placed and pretty easy to use, and only the dark-coloured switches underneath, controlling the air con and windscreen heaters, need any deliberation to use. The handbrake, which is shaped like an aeroplane’s joystick, does take some getting used to.

But the most impressive thing about the 2008’s interior is the quality.

The plastics look and feel classy, the two-tone colour scheme is attractive and the upholstery, particularly in the top-trim Feline version I drove, is a combination of leather and ultra-soft, suede-ish material, with a nap that alters when you run your hand over it.

It’s an extremely comfortable cabin. I drove a 700-mile round trip and got out at each end if not fresh as a daisy then certainly far from being crippled like an old witch – and this two weeks after ricking my back moving a box of books into the loft. Terrible thing, age.

Considering it’s based on the compact 208 it’s a pretty roomy car, which is one reason for casting an eye in its direction if considering its smaller sibling.

There is plenty of headroom and legroom in the front, and although not so much in the rear with the seats pushed back, headroom is still ample.

There are improved levels of storage space as well. There’s a lot more than the 208 and more than big rival the Juke to boot.

It’s also easy to load up thanks to a low lip and the rear seats split 60/40 and fold completely flat for even more space.

The 2008 comes with a choice of engines ranging from a 1.2litre through to the 1.6, in both petrol and diesel versions, in three specification trims.

I drove the 1.6 115 bhp diesel in top feline trim. With an enthusiastic and flexible engine it’s a fine all-round performer.

Acceleration is nippy at low speeds, and there’s a good response through the gears.

It’s easy to handle around town, visibility being good thanks to a low window line, and the steering is nicely sharp.

Out on country roads the highered position means there’s some body lean when cornering – you don’t get a thrilling ride out on windy lanes, but the 2008 does handle well.

Long distances can be tackled easily. The 1.6 engine is quiet at all speeds, but things get noisier at speeds, with some road noise and wind noise coming in as speeds increase.

There is also some vibration coming through the pedals, too.

The 2008 is a real all-rounder. Although boasting improved off-road credentials like better ground clearance, and mud and snow tyres fitted as standard, the 2008 comes only in front-wheel -drive option.

But a Grip Control system allows drivers to select snow, off-road, mud or sand settings for the traction and stability control via a dial on the centre tunnel, which should compensate.

The range starts at £12,995 for the entry-level 1.2 petrol, rising to just under £20,000 for the top-spec 1.6 version

Peugeot have made sure the 2008 isn’t going to miss out on gadget appeal right throughout the range.

Even at the entry-level Access+ cars you get air-con, cruise control, electric front windows and an aux-in socket, but if you move up to Active trim, you can enjoy alloy wheels, a DAB radio and a better stereo

Next trim up is Allure, which gets electric rear windows, automatic lights and wipers, dual-zone climate control and reversing sensors.

But go for the top trim Feline spec and you get the lot, including a panoramic sunroof, which lets in natural light even when closed and is rimmed by that attractive blue light when the lights go on.

There’s good security and safety systems shoehorned in, yet surprisingly, only the top trim gets an alarm.

As far as running costs go, the 1.6 diesel posts some impressive figures.

It’s the most efficient engine in the range, with CO2 emissions under the magic threshold for having to shell out for road tax, and fuel figures of over 70mpg.

A five-hour trip to Berkshire and back gives you plenty of time to get to know a car and this 2008 proved itself a worthy travelling companion, both on the motorway and in town.

Comfortable, good-looking and economical, the 2008 has a smart and expensive feel to it inside.

It’s a good value option for those looking for small-car handling with more room and the capacity to handle itself better in tough condition.

As every manufacturer looks for a piece of the small car crossover action, the 2008 should be able to stake a sizeable claim.

Fact file

Peugeot 2008

Engine: 1.6litre diesel.

Transmission: Six-speed manual.

0-62: 10.4 seconds

Top Speed: 117mph.

Economy: Avg 70.6mpg

Price: £19,145.