Saturday, 17 March 2018

This 2008 is a model for the future

STRICTLY speaking, I like to think of myself as a bit of a song and dance man

STRICTLY speaking, I like to think of myself as a bit of a song and dance man.

Musically, Stevie Wonder’s Definitive Collection is more than enough to sustain me during the longest of drives. Dancewise, I’ll stick with the jive and good old rock’n’roll.

When it comes to cars I should by now know what I like and I have no doubt that an ageing, black Aston Martin convertible would suffice for life.

And yet, despite being ruled like most of us by our likes and dislikes — the cliché of the so-called comfort zone — sometimes it is the everyday, the utilitarian, that surprises us. And in the case of this week’s drive — Peugeot’s 2008 Crossover — that hooks us.

Let me explain. I have driven and written about the 2008 before. When I took it to France in 2013 just after it went on sale in Britain I wrote that “its biggest asset was that it has all-round appeal: big load space, balanced engine power, roomy interior and comfortable seats”. Nothing I have experienced in again driving the 2008 has forced me to change that view.

But I thought I would try and do a closer analysis of what is good about this car — and a few things that do not, in my opinion, quite work.

The 2008 cannot for my money be faulted on size. Peugeot has larger crossover models that are fine but this size suits me for its proper compactness.

There are innumerable variations of this car available. The test car was a 2008 Feline BlueHDi 120. There are also Access, Active, Allure models and the special edition Urban Cross — the last of which I hope to test at a later date. Taking this Feline model, beginning at the rear of the car, the tailgate is easily accessible and initial boot space plentiful (without configuring the seats for more room for loading).

However, I thought the method of closing the tailgate could be improved.

I know nothing about physics but it seems to me that inserting your hands into two handholds in the tailgate does not give you total control and leverage of the tailgate, thereby making it slightly awkward to open and close. By contrast, the netting on the floor of the 2008’s boot should be essential in all cars. What is the point of loading shopping including numerous bottles in the boot if it cannot be secured? The 2008’s netting shows how it should be done.

On to the interior: the Midnight Black leather trim with polished aluminium touches (including the gearstick knob) gives a smart, efficient appearance. The seats appear to be lavishly upholstered and therefore very comfortable.

However, the heated seat on/off switches incorporated on the sides of both front passenger and driver’s seats are fiddly and out of sight.

The dashboard is perfectly accessible to the driver’s eye, both instruments and the touchscreen clearly designed and easy to use.

I liked the user-friendly “tick-tock” of the indicators, which means that you cannot accidentally leave them on.

At night the 2008 reflects a 21st century take on how cars should be designed. I am not saying that ambient lighting is essential, but the little line of blue lights around the lip of the Cielo panoramic glass roof is a treat on a long night drive.

Now to the drive: when you take off, the doors lock automatically after a few seconds. I know this function has been around a long while but I still find it reassuring. I cannot think in this day and age why you would not want automatic self-locking doors for added security.

The 2008’s 1,560cc diesel engine is more than willing to perform. Peugeot says that these BlueHDi engines use “innovation and engineering developed on the race tracks of Le Mans”.

Although the 2008 to me is the antithesis of a racing car — and all the better for that — its diesel engine has an extraordinary amount of torque (pulling power) for a relatively small car. You could motor all day at a good cruising speed in the 2008.

What I am really trying to say about this car is that because of its role as a consummate all-rounder, its multi-functioning success rate — from its quietly powerful engine to its roomy, comfortable, high-tech interior — makes the Peugeot 2008 a working model for all practical family cars of the future.

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