Crossing over comfortably with Peugeot’s 2008

by Gazette Reporter

The crossover is the new motoring term to describe a car that can be as comfortable and agile on the road as it is in moderate off-road conditions. Car companies are selling the concept as one that fits with people’s active outdoor lifestyles and isn’t being outdoor, healthy and active something that we all aspire to.

The fact that Peugeot does off-road is surprising for many car buyers and up until I took the new Peugeot 2008 it was a claim that I was also a little sceptical about. This compact estate car is not a heavy-duty off-road vehicle although it is surprising how effective it can be in muddy North Dublin stubble fields. Peugeot has developed what is called a Grip Control system to allow their cars to have enough extra traction on the front wheels to cope with difficult driving conditions.

Take a car to the Ploughing and you will test those conditions.

North county Dublin is the home of potato growing and I took the car across some potato fields and into some greening stubbles to check its off-road credentials. I was well impressed with the small car’s ability to travel across ground, coping with ruts and soft spots that would be suspect for a normal car.

This small crossover SUV comes with unique ability to make it a worthwhile car option for those who want to explore beyond the tarmac. It’s compact and tidy on the road, gives good confidence to tackle the muddy road conditions and modest field ruts with some degree of surety.

The 2008 is one of Peugeot’s best sellers. I’ve driven both the thrifty 1.2 litre turbo-petrol version and the diesel version powered by a 1.6 litre HDi engine. Engine the performance is good across both models, with the diesel version being modestly more economical while the petrol powered car is lively and only modestly more expensive to run.

For me the 1.2 litre turbo-petrol version has so much to offer both in terms of keener pricing and a great driving feel. The slightly more expensive diesel version has better torque and that can be called upon of the going gets sticky.

The top of the range diesel version is rated at 120bhp versus 110bhp for the 1.2 petrol, and it comes with significantly more torque. Despite that its towing rating is not much better. There is a significant up to 30% advantage in terms of fuel economy when you take the diesel option. So while the petrol version that I drove is a very lively and smooth car to drive with its award-winning engine, the diesel version makes more sense in terms of running costs, even if it is priced a little higher.

Peugeot has a new GT line for the 2008, adding a higher level of style and fittings and giving the car a stronger more off-road look. The test car was fitted with a six-speed automatic gearbox that was easy to use and worked well with the Grip Control system when called into duty.

The 1.2 litre turbo-petrol version takes the form of an award winning three-cylinder engine. These engines are rarely as smooth in terms of acceleration as this Peugeot engine is and the three-cylinder feel is normally very noticeable from behind the wheel. This is the best three-cylinder petrol engine that I have driven and it adds to the driving enjoyment of the car when it’s matched with the automatic gearbox.

Petrol running costs can be more significant than diesel ones, especially for the higher use driver. The GT version test car that I drove delivered an impressive fuel economy rating of 20.8km/litre (4.8l/100km or 59mpg) over a 1,100km lengthy driving experience. The CO2 emission level is low at 110g/km (road tax €190) for the automatic petrol version, just €10/year more expensive than the diesel model.

The use of the Grip Control system in the fields probably added to my fuel usage. The system is controlled by a dial located on the centre console. It allows you to choose from five driving modes. These are standard ESP, Snow Mode, Mud Mode, Sand Mode and ESP off mode.

Most of my driving was in standard mode and I switched on the move to Mud Mode once I crossed into field conditions. There was no clunk of a gear, just a new image on the dash to tell me that I was in Mud Mode and confidence to tackle the soft field conditions.

The system doesn’t add to the car’s towing ability, it is designed more to boost traction in poor ground conditions. Peugeot claims that it uses electronic components rather than mechanical systems that are already installed in the car. The Goodyear 205/50R17 Vector 4Seasons tyres added no extra weight so there is no excessive fuel consumption, unlike a traditional 4×4’s.

The GT version of the 2008 is also more attractive to look at but more expensive to buy than the base model. The additional GT features make it look more like an SUV taking away any notion of a softer car look.

The dash design is new with Peugeot’s i-Cockpit design and that included sat-nav on the test car. There is the option to plug in your phone and run Google Maps through the system that operates by touch control and very easy to get a handle on.

The steering wheel is small and sporty in design, with a good level of control. There is good seat and wheel adjustment but you need to get it right in order to see all of the dials clearly.

This crossover is considered compact so don’t expect a big car feel to the 2008 even its ambitious in its off-road ability. The front driver space is good while the seat base may be a bit on the short side for larger adults.

Seat adjustment is good and the rear seats fold easily to give more load space. The boot opens high for clearance and there’s a proper space wheel included.

The entry price for the face-lifted Peugeot 2008 is €19,400 for the base 1.2 litre petrol engine model, while the test car with its GT badging and automatic gearbox pushed that price to €24,835. The diesel GT version, while not available with the automatic gearbox is marginally more expensive.

Running costs of smaller cars such as the petrol powered Peugeot 2008 are competitive with diesel costs for equivalent cars. That’s probably why almost 40% of Peugeot’s 2008 cars sold are petrol powered. My estimate is that the three-year costs will be close to €0.28 per kilometre and that’s low cost motoring.

The Peugeot 2008 meets the crossover challenge head on with a great to drive on the road and impressive off-road ability in muddy fields. Peugeot’s 5 year warranty has helped lower depreciation costs adding value to the car, while the GT specification adds extra image visibility on the road.

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