Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Compact SUV’s gripping approach to tough terrain

DID you know that the French carmaker Peugeot, which became a “brand” as far back as

DID you know that the French carmaker Peugeot, which became a “brand” as far back as 1810, made the first coffee and pepper table mills?

Neither did I. Did you know that Peugeot still makes chisels? Yes, chisels.

But that’s not all. Peugeot these days has a dedicated Peugeot Design Lab that among other things — including cars, of course — has designed a 115ft luxury catamaran, a beautiful piano, space-age-looking food trucks, saws and scooters — the list goes on.

Better known among us Brits, because more and more of us it seems are taking to wearing full cyclists’ gear — there’s a lot of Lycra out there — are Peugeot bicycles.

Peugeot Cycles was founded in 1830 and its team has won the Tour de France a record 10 times. The company is the only motorcycle manufacturer left in France.

I was brought up to speed on all things Peugeot at a car launch in the Cotswolds at a rather magic place called Thyme.

This is an exquisite 150-acre country estate which has been rescued and restored and now comprises a boutique hotel, cottages, a cookery school and village pub. I hope to return there soon and tell you all about it.

Meanwhile, Peugeot chose Thyme to show journalists its new Peugeot 2008 compact SUV (sport utility vehicle). The 2008 has been around since 2013, with production of more than 500,000 cars worldwide and counting. Sales in the UK are above the 40,000 mark.

What’s new about 2016’s 2008 compact SUV is a new appearance up front, new GT Line model, and something called Grip Control — an adapted traction system that gives the 2008 “versatility on all types of terrain”.

This is achieved with the help of mud and snow (all season) certified winter tyres.

You may be in the process of stripping off your winter woolies to enjoy some sunshine and I don’t blame you — so am I.

But Peugeot is nothing if not prepared and this new 2008 compact SUV would see you all right as a motorist whatever next winter throws at you weather-wise.

The gathering of journalists was there to see and sample. So we found ourselves pitched up in a muddy field — with sand track — to see how Grip Control worked.

What you do these days in a car is push a button to alter anything from traction control to the air conditioning.

On the 2008 compact SUV you locate your Grip Control by twiddling a dial — more correctly called a thumb wheel — on the central console.

There are five modes in Grip Control. There is standard mode for normal road conditions that require low grip. Then comes snow mode.

This sounds pretty self-explanatory, but there are subtle differences between each chosen mode.

In snow the car “instantly adapts the slippage of each front wheel to the grip conditions encountered”.

Next up is mud mode and this can be fun. On the recklessly muddy field we were encouraged to drive the 2008 compact SUV as hard as we could in standard mode — then switch to mud mode to spot the difference.

And you can. On mud or wet grass the technology gets you going by transferring as much torque (pulling power) as possible to the wheel with the most grip. Peugeot says this mode is “particularly suitable for country roads” and active up to 50mph.

Sand mode maintains wheel spin on both driven wheels simultaneously to keep you moving and limit the risk of getting stuck.

When I tried the car in sand mode through an area several times larger than a children’s sandpit, the car pulled through smoothly and without fuss.

Finally “ESP off” mode allows you, the driver, to take control of the car’s traction up to speeds of 31mph — naturally, the carmaker doesn’t want you to lose it altogether.

I think this mode for most of us might be best left alone.

Anyway this new equipment on the 2008 Compact SUV definitely seems to work and could contribute to keeping the driver safe, which gets top marks from me.

I hope to return to the car shortly for a full test drive and will report back then.

Peugeot 2008 facts


• On sale in the UK: July 1 2016

&bull New frontal appearance with latest design codes and grille treatment

&bull New Ultimate Red colour

&bull New GT Line model with red/black coloured interior theme

&bull Four versions are ‘best-in-class’ — including the 1.2LPureTech 130 S&S

&bull New wheel arch extensions and scuff plates

&bull Grip Control gives the 2008 versatility on all types of terrain

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