Peugeot’s skill at noughts and crossovers

Peugeot 2008 is a good-looking and capable compact crossover.

Peugeot 2008 is a good-looking and capable compact crossover. - Credit: Peugeot

Peugeot has doubled its crossover offerings with the arrival of the compact 2008, motoring editor Andy Russell.

The '00' tag gave secret agent James Bond a licence to kill – for Peugeot the '00' label has become a licence to thrill. It gives the French car-maker the chance to bring in attractive niche models, taking it into new markets and dishing up tasty treats alongside bread-and-butter models.

The '00' models kicked off with the 4007 – a sport utility vehicle shared with Citroen and Mitsubishi – and the 5008 compact people-carrier and the appeared on Peugeot's first crossover the 3008. Now Peugeot is building on the 3008's success and growing buying appeal of crossovers with the compact 2008, derived from the 208 supermini.

The successor to the worthy but dull 207 SW compact estate, the 2008 boasts bold lines, strong styling and the sharp looks of the modern face of the brand with headlamps that, as the marketeers point out, 'act with the bodywork to outline a cat's pupil'. Yeh, whatever, it wasn't obvious to me but I do know the 2008 was the cat's whiskers, looking good on my driveway and drawing complimentary comments.

It's also pleasant to drive and live with – key reasons why crossovers are such popular all-round packages for a wide range of buyers.

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If you don't do the miles there are 82bhp 1.2-litre and 120bhp 1.6-litre petrol units but with Peugeot's reputation for turbo diesels the 70bhp 1.4-litre and, in particular, the 92 and 115bhp 1.6-litre turbo diesels will find favour.

The 115bhp turbo diesel impresses with its brisk, peppy performance that punches above its weight given its engine size and 58mpg overall in real-world driving, nudging 70mpg on a run. Stir it into life with the light, precise six-speed manual gearbox and it revs freely yet remains impressively refined.

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The 2008 is billed as urban crossover, with the slogan 'See the City in a different light' and, with its compact size, light steering and controls and a higher driving position than a supermini, the 2008 is very much at home there. It's easy to drive but the chunky rear pillars and small screen hinder visibility. Higher models get a rear parking aid and an automatic parallel parking system is optional.

The ride is on the firm side but generally supple which makes you all the more aware when of it being unsettled on roadworks-scarred surfaces or bumping over sunken manhole covers. Out on the open road the ride improves with speed but body roll builds through fast corners, along with tyre and wind noise, and the steering becomes overlight which takes the edge of the otherwise competent handling.

Few 2008 owners are likely to leave the Tarmac so there's no all-wheel drive but higher models boast a clever Grip Control system, controlled via rotary knob between the front seats, for enhanced traction. As well as standard mode it offers settings for snow, all-terrain for mud and wet grass, sand and can be switched off altogether up to 30mph. Combined with 165mm ground clearance and 'mud and snow' tyres the 2008 will take you a little way off the beaten track.

Peugeot is consistently raising its game when it comes to cabin quality with materials that look and feel good, giving an upmarket ambience. Front-seat passengers are well cared for and those in the back will appreciate the legroom but the seats are flat and slabby and the panoramic glass roof on the top Feline model eats into headroom if you are in the outer seats.

The shapely boot offers a useful 360 litres of space and is easy to load with a low sill and protective plastic runners on the floor and there is some underfloor storage for clearing the clutter we all carry. Rear seat backs split one third/two thirds and fold completely flat with the cushions also moving forward and down.

The fascia is clear and classy – so important given the amount of time you look at it – but as with the 208 you look at the instruments over, rather than through, the steering wheel and, being short, I found it obscured the bottom of the dials unless I dropped the wheel lower than I would have liked.

Available in Access+, Active, Allure and Feline trim levels, the 2008 comes with a tempting array of equipment but it pushes up the price of the top model.

Crossovers are the way forward in the current car market so the 2008 is a welcome addition to the range and should be as attractive on the driveway as it is on the eye.

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