Price: From £13,195
Engine capacity: 1.6 litre diesel
Fuel economy: 76.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 96g/km
The helpful chap in the Peugeot UK press team explained to me that they like to get journalists to try out their 2008 mini SUV with "Ultra Grip" option as the ideal car for the winter season. It would, I thought, be useful if we had the sort of winter we had a few years ago, during which I remember gingerly piloting a Peugeot 3008 up the M1 at about 30mph in treacherous conditions. In fact, as we are now only too well aware, the ideal car to take on a journey northwards in the UK would be one that was designed by Noah. Or maybe that Lotus that James Bond (Roger Moore era) had, which turned into a kind of powered penguin.
Anyway, the optional "Ultra Grip" was useful in roads that had become inundated with God's tears, as did the extra ground clearance the 2008, a cross between a proper SUV and a small family hatch (the 208), also offers its owners. Like effective flood defences, it may only come in useful for a few days a year, but you are mighty glad to have it when they arrive, and it would seem money well spent. I can attest that the handling of the 2008 is safe and sound even in the wet, almost duck-like in its assurance.
The problem for the 2008, as it is for most Peugeots, is that it has nothing to give it an edge. Like many a mainstream brand, there is nothing much wrong, but I find it difficult to complete the sentence "You should buy a 2008 because …" The SsangYong Tivoli, which I tried recently, has novelty and price on its side; the Skodas and Kias and Hyundais have value for money (though less than in the past); the Range Rover Evoque, while vastly more expensive, has a magical quality of desirability, as do the Mini Countryman, BMW X1 and baby Audi, to a lesser degree. The Nissan Qashqai and Juke are very well made and extremely stylish. The Peugeot 2008, like its Ford, Renault Captur and Vauxhall Mokka counterparts, comes second, third or lower by most criteria, and wins out in none. It is a shame, as a more adventurous approach to style, say, could easily have made it the car of choice in a fashion-conscious segment, as it performs well, with a refined diesel and excellent economy. It does have a delightful subtle lighting scheme in the roof, but that's about it. Next time, I hope.
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