Head On Repossesed
I’ve been reading an auto biography by Julian Cope, erstwhile lead singer of The Teardrop Explodes whose light shone brightly from 1979 – 1982 , before disintegrating into dust. Cope hails from Tamworth in Staffordshire, a town I had never visited & describes it in all it’s mid 1970’s to mid 1980’s glory with great verve & passion.
Peugeot chose Birmingham to launch their new B sector car the 2008 in June & CCV were there to have a closer look at the model & in particular the two diesel versions. We drove on a circular route south east of the city towards a secret location where Peugeot were going to show us how the 2008 handled off road.
We found ourselves in Tamworth home of the aforementioned Mr Cope a real coincidence as I haven’t finished the book entitled ” Head On Repossesed ” Our destination was the Snow Dome in Tamworth & it became clear that we were there to drive up the snow slope inside, rather than have skiing lessons.
The 2008 is being launched into a very competitive sector currently dominated by Nissans Juke, who’s looks aren’t to everyones taste with my family describing it as a Boxer Dog which has run into a wall. The 2008 shouldn’t divide opinion & overall is quite a good looking car taking most of it’s cues from the small & sexy 208 launched in 2012. Featuring the same stylish swept – back headlights, attractive front grille & smooth curves of the 208, the 2008 is both wider & longer & rides 96 mm higher to give it that all important urban crossover look so popular at the moment. Indeed, Peugeot aren’t just hoping to capture sales from Nissan but also to offer their potential 208 customers the option of a larger more practical car, you would get a mountain bike in the 2008 but not in a 208 for example & it’s only around £800 more to buy than the 208.
Offered with two petrol & two diesel models the 2008 comes in four trims; Access+, Active, Allure & Feline & in eight colours. With the British prevalance for well equipped cars, the Allure should prove the most popular amongst customers coming as it does with an impressive list of equipment. This includes 16″ Hydra alloys, directional front fog lights, chrome door mirrors, rear parking aid, dark tinted rear windows, stainless steel front & rear scuff plates, LED instrument dial surround, laser cut headlining with backlighting representing slashes above your head from a Lions claw & a leather steering wheel & gear knob. Automatic dual zone climate control, electric rear windows, electric heated & folding mirrors, passenger & driver seat height adjustment & a visibility pack containing automatic headlights, windscreen wipers & an electro chrome rear view mirror further enhance this. Above the Allure, sits the Feline & this adds 17″ alloys, a panoramic glass roof with ambient lighting, aluminum pedals & door sills, SAT NAV, a second USB point ,an alarm & midnight black leather trim to the already packed speciafication. Even the entry level Access model offers a radio/CD with steering wheel mounted controls, ABS, ESP, six airbags, air con,cruise control & LED daytime running lights whilst the Active sitting just above it adds DAB, Bluetooth & a multifunction colour touch screen, a list that Peugeot is to be complemented on.
As with all of Peugeots new cars, the interior is very well constructed from quality plastics making a mockery of how French car interiors used to be. I would go as far as to say that even the premium German brands must be looking over their shoulders nowadays, wondering how they can make their interiors that much better than Peugeots to justify there inflated prices. Inside there’s a nod to the Peugeot Lion in a paw shaped hand brake . The instrument binnacle similar to the Renault Clio bears an uncanny resemblance to Wall E, but is nonetheless easy to read & understand. The steering wheel is small & has been lifted from the 208. I had no problems viewing the instrumentation, whereas my driving colleague Darren from Autocar, who was well over six feet tall, felt that the wheel was too small for him as it obscured both the cruise control stalk & half the dashboard display from his view. The seats are comfortable & finished nicely & are only let down slightly by the cheap feeling levers to adjust them. In the rear, two adults would fit comfortably as there’s good head & arm room, but adding a third would be a push on a long journey. Three kids under 14 would fit in quite nicely.
Your main reason for buying a 2008 is the space on offer over the smaller 208 & the boot volume is impressive, with 360 litres on offer at all times increasing with a simple press of the control at the top of the rear seat back, to 1194 litres & an almost flat load area for that aforementioned mountain bike.To make handling objects easier, the floor has five rails which run from the sill to the front seats with six hooks allowing them to be secured safely. There are also two storage areas on either side of the boot, with a retaining strap & storage net & an additional 22 litres of space under the boot. The loading lip is also reassuringly low for bulkier items. Looking at the 2008 from all sides, it’s undoubtedly a practical proposition & gives argument to the thinking behind Peugeots advertising tag line for the 2008 ” See the City in a different light. ” It’s small enough to work in the city as a runaround, but large enough to take you into the country fully loaded at weekends.
And this ” City Country ” theme in a roundabout way, brings me back to the Snow Dome in Tamworth. Bearing in mind the last four Winters in the UK, the visit to the Snow Dome had a practical purpose. Seen first on the larger 3008 & now available on the Allure & Feline 2008 models as standard, Peugeots patented “Grip Control,” optimises traction in conditions of poor grip. It combines with the 165 mm ground clearance an advanced traction control system & mud & snow tyres. The dial located in the centre console offers setings for Snow, Off Road, Sand & ESP Off conditions.
Our demonstration was simple but effective. First we were asked to climb up the snow slope within the Snow Dome in a 2008 minus Grip Control & all of the jornos there failed dismally. Then we tried it with a 2008 featuring Grip Control. In first gear we all roared away & easily made it the 200 m or so to the top of the slope. Perhaps what was even more impressive than going up the slope, was the ease with which Grip Control gave the driver control of the descent, something that would have saved my Saab from hitting the kerb in January 2010 & mashed up a wheel & the front suspension. Collectively, we were all mightily impressed & it goes without saying that if our Winters continue to be unpredictable, Peugeots innovative Grip Control System would be a blessing in disguise for tackling snow fall.
Dutring the day, I drove both the 92 bhp & 115 bhp 1.6 diesels, the models that should appeal most to fleet customers & found them equally engaging & refined. On a route that took in country roads, dual carriageway & the M6 there wasn’t an awful lot of difference between the two engines, both in performance, 0-62 mph in 12.8 seconds or 10.4 seconds & emissions of 103g/km & 106g/km respectively. The larger unit does make for increased fun behind the wheel, as it pushes the 2008 into the realms of the smaller more nimble 208. Both offer outstanding fuel economy of 70.6 mpg on the combined cycle with a price difference in Allure trim of just £450. Interestingly, a glance at Peugeots price list, told me that the 1.2 petrol Allure is £2150 cheaper than the diesel Allure 1.6 92 bhp model & I suppose if, like Mrs Walker your driving about 6000 business miles a year, the petrol would be well worth considering over the diesel based on cost alone.
I don’t know if Julian Cope would recognise his old town Tamworth, as it appears to have a had a major makeover in the past few years, in a similar vein to Peugeot. Peugeots cars are now so much better than their cars of even 3 years ago it’s frightening & this includes the excellent 2008. When the new 308 is launched at the end of 2013, Peugeot will have almost completed a total overhaul of their model range in double quick time.
If you have a growing family, or just need more space in your small car, the 2008 could tick your box. It looks good, is deceptively spacious, very well equipped & feels built to last & it should do well in its sector.
A Kilimanjaro 3.5/5.
Price of range from Access + 1.2 VTi £12,995 to Feline Mistral Ambience £19,195 both OTR.