Get to grips with Peugeot’s crossover

Picture: Contributed

Picture: Contributed

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PEUGEOT’S model renewal programme continues with the 2008, a roomier version of last year’s 208 hatch. It is, basically, an estate car with some extra ground clearance – hence the company’s sobriquet of “crossover”.

It is taller and longer and the top two models are equipped with Peugeot’s Grip Control system. In combination with special tyres this gives the front wheel drive car remarkable traction on slippery surfaces.

Sales begin this month, with a start price of £12,995 for the 82bhp 1.2 petrol in the Access+ trim. This is a well-equipped model with cruise control and a speed limiter, air conditioning, roof bars – enough to feel ok. Why spend more?

Experience with the 208 hatch suggests that buyers will spend more, maybe leapfrog the second rung Active grade and go up to Allure or Feline specifications. I know, the model names are a bit naff. The cheapest model with grip control is the Allure with the 120bhp 1.6 petrol engine from £16,195. The Allure is also available with the 92bhp and 115bhp 1.6 diesel engines. All the Feline models have grip control and this includes engines with the fuel-saving automated gearbox.

The press proving route was in Peugeot’s English heartland – where it once made cars. It took us to the Tamworth Snow Dome where the ski slope had been hired to demonstrate the advantage of grip control.

A version without GC made little progress before spinning its wheels uselessly. The grip control car went up the slope with the panache of a 4x4. Equally impressive was its downhill braking on the snow.

It has to be said that a major factor was the Goodyear Vector Four Season tyres. With GC switched off it still went up the slope adequately. Hence, fitting these special Goodyears to an Access or Active 2008 could attract the buyer on a smaller budget, still anxious for some extra grip on snow or muddy grass.

Note, though, that with grip control you can also dial up traction settings for mud or sand. This beach mode allows the wheels to spin unchecked. Just beware of digging yourself in.

Other 2008 highlights include a 74mpg diesel and a 65mpg petrol, both achieving sub 100g/km CO2 ratings for zero road tax and freedom of the London weekday congestion zone charges.

The 2008 is expected to sell 9,000 a year in Britain out of a world total of 200,000, as Peugeot moves towards 50 per cent of production exported. Its current biggest areas are France, China, UK, Algeria and Argentina.

Compared with the 208 it is some eight inches longer and four inches taller, 70kg heavier and £850 more for similar specifications. The economy suffers slightly and there is cornering roll absent with the 208 but nothing you will notice after a few days. n

Verdict: The revelation was the grip of Goodyear’s “all year” tyres on snow without Grip Control. It could be all the car you need next winter.

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