A Peugeot medley

Road test: Peugeot 2008 1.6 e-HDi 115 Feline

Confession time first. I have never really liked small estate cars. They don’t seem to offer much more space than their hatchback equivalents and tend to look somewhat ungainly. Peugeot’s 207 SW, the Toyota Yaris Verso and Skoda’s Fabia estate – all less attractive than their regular-sized counterparts.

So what is the best way to squeeze extra space into a standard hatchback? The cross-over, that’s how. Peugeot’s 2008 is in fact a three-way blend of B-segment hatch, estate car and soft-roader. In theory it might just work, but in practice? Let’s take a look.

The term cross-over is being applied to many variants of vehicles and it’s becoming a bit passé. So let’s call the 2008 a blend. This comes across in much of the design – it’s slightly ruggedised, it’s slightly taller and it has a slightly larger rump. There are some discordant angles and features but take a step back and overall the profile is coherent and fairly pleasing. Where Peugeot (and others) have struggled in the past is with the rear; the 2008’s derrière is tidy, subtle and gently echoes larger models in the Peugeot family. I find the grill a slightly odd shape with the blunt bonnet curvature but this will be partly dictated by pedestrian collision legislation.

Pleasing finish

Jump inside and the discordant shapes found on the exterior can be seen around the cabin with asymmetrical design and a mixture of surface coverings. What does stand-out is the pleasing finish – it really does feel like something special. Admittedly, this is the top specification, but the core items and switchgear across all models are well made and very tactile.

Like the 208, the 2008 has the small steering wheel, which takes some getting used-to in terms of ensuring the instruments are visible. I am always reminded of the poor ‘70s joke: why do Capris have small steering wheels? Answer: so you can drive them wearing hand-cuffs.

Our test 2008 has the 1.6 e-HDi diesel with higher 115 PS output – an excellent unit which pulls strongly and smoothly. An eight valve, it doesn’t need hammering to get the best out of it which makes for very relaxed progress. Motorway miles are gobbled-up without batting an eye lid with the engine purring at a whisker below 2,000 rpm at 70mph.

Capable and reassuring

Another good aspect is Peugeot’s progress on the suspension. It manages a good balance of control while managing to absorb many of the smaller road imperfections. Push the 2008 harder and there’s nothing scary – it’s a little tail-heavy but capable and re-assuring.

Buy a 2008 with a view of crossing mountains and forging rivers and you could be a little disappointed. There’s a slight increase in ground clearance over the 208 (now 165mm) and some extra clearance between the wheels and their arches but it’s a very mild concession to off-road capability. However, if you live at the end of a rough track, it could be just what you need. Don’t expect to gain much of an increased forward view with the ride height; in fact, you’ll be rubbing shoulders (height-wise) with anyone in an Astra or Focus. And remember, power is to the front wheels only; no 4×4 option is currently available although there are some electronic settings for different types of terrain (snow, mud, sand).

On Motor Writer, one of the key criteria we measure vehicles against is how easy they are to live with. And this is where the 2008 shines. Whether it’s belting up-and-down the M6, crawling through traffic or pounding the country lanes, it ticks all the boxes.

Peugeot 2008 1.6 e-HDi 115 Feline with Calima Ambience £19,145 (range starts at £12,995).

Power: 115 PS (@ 3,600 rpm), torque: 270 Nm (@ 1,750 rpm), emissions: 105 g/km CO2 (band B), 0-62 mph: 10.4 secs.

Motor Writer rating: ●●●●○

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