Peugeot's 2008 takes on models from the Juke genre with affordable pricing and a rejuvenated range of engines. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
The Peugeot 2008 faces some tough opposition in the compact Crossover market. With some very economical engines and subtle but handsome styling, it may well be in with a decent shout.
Fashion can take many forms, especially when it comes to cars. Here's one of them, the compact crossover, epitomised in this case by Peugeot's 2008 Crossover. If you're not familiar with this kind of thing, then you very soon will be as it's one of the market's fastest growing and trendiest segments. It's all come essentially from the success of one standard-setting design. In 2010, Nissan's Juke showed that if you took a supermini and re-bodied it with wilfully outlandish, higher-set SUV-style looks, then strong sales would inevitably follow. Since then, we've seen a wide variety of different approaches in this sector, with Renault's Clio-based Captur model at one end and cars like the MINI Countryman and the Ford EcoSport at the other. In between lie contenders like the Skoda Yeti, the Vauxhall Mokka and the Mazda CX-3. This 2008 is one of the more affordable takes on this trend, there to enable a small, fashionable family to get a foothold in this growing market niche. Based heavily on Peugeot's 208 supermini but with extra space and flexibility, a higher-set driving position, more individual looks and the option of mild off road ability, this car seems to offer plenty more for your money - without too much of a price premium. Let's try it.
Despite its beefy looks, the 2008 is front-wheel drive only, but some off-road ability is delivered on pokier 1.6-litre petrol and diesel variants via a clever 'Grip Control' traction system. This comprises an intelligent traction control system and special Mud & Snow 'All Weather' tyres, a compromise between full winter tyres and usual summer rubber. Grip Control automatically improves the vehicle's traction on difficult surfaces such as snow, mud, dirt tracks and wet grass, working with the vehicle's Electronic Stability Programme to maintain the best possible traction from both front wheels. It has five selectable operating modes which can be chosen by the driver from a dedicated control mounted on the centre console, not unlike a Land Rover 'Terrain Response' system. The engine line up will be familiar fare if you're familiar with the 208 supermini. Base versions get a choice of either an 82bhp 1.2 VTi petrol or a 75bhp 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesel. Moving up the range, there are 110 and 130bhp versions of the turbocharged PureTech petrol unit and an older 1.6-litre VTi petrol engine mated to auto transmission. Diesel buyers get 100 or 120bhp versions of the 1.6-litre BlueHDi unit, plus an older 1.6-litre e-HDi 92bhp unit that can be ordered with an EGS automatic gearbox.
The 2008 features a higher driving position than the 208 and it's longer too. At 4.16m, it's fully 20cm longer than its supermini cousin and there's a good deal more road presence to it as well with its pronounced wheel arches. With 17-inch alloy wheels and Mud & Snow tyres, it looks quite purposeful but the ground clearance is decidedly modest so it doesn't seem as if it's trying to project an image it can't live up to. You wouldn't choose one to tackle the Rubicon Trail for example. Still, it's probably got more than enough about it to shrug off most British weather conditions. The black bumpers and body sills serve to protect it from abrasions with the addition of front and rear body protection and side mouldings in stainless steel. The front face adopts the latest Peugeot family face which is a heck of an improvement on their last one, it has to be said. LED daytime running lights and an intricately sculpted headlight pod give the 2008 a distinctive frontal signature and there's some really slick detailing, such as the way the metal door bases cut into the black sill mouldings or the way in which the tail lights frame the 2008's subtle shoulder line. It's not the most overtly styled car in its class, but it's quietly handsome in a way that's old-school Peugeot. There's a 360-litre boot.
Pricing sits in the £13,000 to £20,000 bracket and the 2008 Crossover range consists of five trim levels: Access, Active, Allure, Crossway and Feline.aBuilding on a product positioning strategy introduced with the 208, the 2008 has what Peugeot describes as 'competitive and progressive pricing', with less than a £1,000 walk from an equivalent trim level 208 version, coupled with high levels of specification. All variants get LED daytime running lights, colour-coded door mirrors and handles, power windows and mirrors, cruise control, driver's seat height adjustment, a decent quality CD stereo with a 3.5mm Jack for an external audio device and steering wheel-mounted controls, air conditioning that also cools the glovebox, six airbags and ESP stability control. Further up the range, the patented Grip Control system is fitted, optimising traction in poor conditions with the help of beefier 'Mud & Snow' tyres. Justifying a 5 star Euro NCAP rating, safety kit runs to twin front, side and curtain airbags, plus all the usual electronic assistance for braking, traction and stability control. There are also Isofix childseat fastenings and the option of Peugeot's clever 'Connect SOS' and 'Connect Assistance' services. If you've specified these and have an accident, the car can automatically inform the emergency services, giving them your precise location. Could be a life-saver.
The engines that have been announced for the 2008 are some of the most economical units that Peugeot make, so running one of these vehicles shouldn't break the bank. The 92bhp 1.6-litre e-HDI with the EGC gearbox manages to eke better than 74 miles from a gallon of derv while emitting just 98g/km of CO2. The 100 and 120bhp 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesel models manage 76.3mpg and around 97g/km of CO2. The petrol variants don't do too badly either. The 1.2-litre VTi manages 57.6mpg on the combined cycle and 114g/km of CO2, whilst the turbocharged 110bhp 1.2-litre PureTech unit does even better, returning 60.1mpg and 108g/km. Anything else? Well, servicing intervals are every 12,500 miles. Plus there's a three year/60,000 mile warranty with Peugeot roadside assistance.
The 2008 Crossover is the car you probably didn't know you needed, a different way of looking at compact, stylish family transport. On paper, the advantages it offers over a standard supermini in space, styling and potential driving flexibility are small. In practice though, they add up to a car that feels a far more rounded, more complete family tool - not as a primary runabout perhaps, but a perfect second vehicle. Of course, this Peugeot is one of the later arrivals to the compact Crossover sector, following on from rivals that are mostly more overt and aggressively styled. A likely 2008 buyer will probably have already looked at these kinds of cars and shied away. Not everyone, after all, needs to make a supermarket carpark statement. In contrast, this design is arguably more sophisticated and certainly of higher perceived quality, especially from behind the wheel. True, it could be sharper to drive and a little cheaper to buy, but neither issue is a deal-breaker. What matters is that Peugeot has understood clearly the kind of product this market segment needs if it's to widen its reach beyond the purely young at heart. In this 2008, Nissan Juke, Vauxhall Mokka and Renault Captur customers have a more refined, sensible alternative. If you're ready for just that, then you need to try this car.