Sales of all types of SUVs/Crossovers have mushroomed in recent years, the public love them and the manufacturers have not been slow in realising this and more and more new models have been added with more to come.
Six years ago sales of all SUV vehicles in the UK were 104,000 equivalent to 5% of the new car market. Last year with soft SUVs or Crossovers joining the fray this extended sector reached 340,000 sales, around 15% of the total car market. The growth area is now for compact SUV/Crossovers and these accounted for just 10,000 sales six years ago and last year this total grew to 75,000 registrations. Industry forecasters expect demand for SUVs/Crossovers in general to increase by 22% and sales of small SUVs like the Peugeot 2008 to grow by 90% by 2018.
In the compact B-segment SUV/Crossover sector , predominately two-wheel drive models, the British built Nissan Juke is the clear sales leader but making up ground are the Renault Captur, Vauxhall Mokka, Peugeot 2008, Skoda Yeti, Fiat Panda Trekking and 4x4, Kia Soul Mini Countryman and Dacia Duster models. In the pipeline are compact Crossovers from Honda, Toyota, Fiat with their 500X and Panda Cross models plus Jeep and Suzuki.
In many cases these new-breed of small SUV/Crossovers are based on B-segment supermini hatchbacks but beefed-up in looks, given a higher riding height and in some cases the option of four-wheel drive or a ‘trick’ electronic two wheel drive system which gives added front wheel drive grip when needed.
The Peugeot 2008 for instance is based upon their chic 208 Supermini sized three and five door Hatchback range. The 2008 version comes only as a five door with an overall length of 4,160mm so it is slightly roomier and of course higher so visibility from the elevated seating positions is a big improvement.
Prices for the 2008 start £12,995 and rise to £19,745 with Access+, Active, Allure, Crossway and Feline specification levels. Currently the Euro 5 engine line-up consists of 1.2-litre 82hp and 1.6 120hp petrol units and 1.4 HDi 70hp, 1.6 e-HDi 92hp and 1.6 e-HDi 115hp turbodiesel engines. From Spring next year the engine line-up will change in common with all manufacturers to include Peugeot’s Euro 6 units including PureTech petrol and BlueHDi turbodiesel units offering more power, improved fuel economy and lower emissions.
The heartland model from the range I feel is the version I tried, the 1.6 e-HDi 115 Allure which with this engine comes with their Grip Control traction aid and carries a price-tag of £18,045. The Allure specification looks the best-buy as it includes 16-inch alloys, directional front fog-lights, rear parking sensors, tinted rear windows, stainless steel front and rear underbody skid plates, LED instrument dial surround lighting, LED laser-cut headlining with backlighting, automatic headlights and wipers, front and rear electric windows, electrically operated and heated door mirrors, automatic dual zone air-con, premium grade interior trim and most importantly for me as country dweller Grip Control which optimises traction by adjusting the engine electronics and power delivery. Operated by a dial on the centre console the driver can select Normal, ESP Off, Sand, Snow and Mud driving modes. It’s clever and it works, but be warned it is not a full off-road four-wheel drive system, it just gives a bit more driving security in adverse conditions. Gripper tyres also come as standard with this function. Grip Control is also available, depending on the engine chosen, on some other models in the range except those with Access+ and Active spec levels.
Other items of equipment for the Allure version carried forward from lesser models in the range include a leather steering wheel, large multifunction touchscreen, Bluetooth, DAB digital radio, LED daytime running lights, roof bars, cruise control, height and reach adjustable steering wheel and thankfully a space-saver spare wheel. My test car had the £400 sat-nav option which was user-friendly and the Cielo panoramic glass sunroof with electrically operated translucent blind which costs another £400 and brightens the generally dark finished interior.
The 2008 is a thoroughly modern looking, classy and pretty vehicle inside and out both in terms of design and quality just like its latest generation 308 and 208 ranges. The 2008 has the new Peugeot family face, a deeply raked front windscreen, slightly rising waistline and rounded rear end with a roof spoiler. There are large side windows so visibility is good and at the rear is a wide tailgate giving easy access to the 360-litre boot and 1,194-litre load area with no rear sill to lift bags over. The rear seats are split 33-66% so that provides various load and passenger carrying combinations of use. Perhaps it is not the roomiest for rear passenger legroom but for most people without growing teenagers it will suffice.
The fascia panel follows Peugeot’s latest uncluttered design criteria which means some control functions have to be done through the large touchscreen with it isn’t always the fastest and most convenient way of doing things. The small diameter steering wheel, as used on other new Peugeot models, has become a love or hate item. I quiet like it as being tall I can easily see the rev-counter and speedo over the rim of the wheel and it makes the lazy steering response feel just that bit sharper. The interior trim is a combination of various printed and textured vinyl and plastics which look better than this description sounds and the seats use a nice combination of cloth and stitched vinyl as well.
The growing popularity of SUVs and Crossovers of every size is obvious to any road-user. I have just used the Peugeot 2008 for a brief end-of-season ‘staycation’ to Cornwall and it seemed every other vehicle was a Crossover or SUV. These varied from expensive Range Rovers, Audi Qs, BMW Xs right through the size and price ranges down to the budget-priced Dacia Duster. In the mid-range of size and price the C-segment Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008 and Kia Sportage Crossovers seemed the most popular but for just two of us, and my wife’s collection of clothes, the Peugeot 2008 served us well especially for fuel economy.
Powered by the 1.6-litre 115hp e-HDi turbodiesel engine with Stop&Start the official fuel consumption in the Combined Cycle is 70.6mpg. On my 800 mile round trip the final figure was a realistically impressive 56.4mpg. That wasn’t just easy-throttle motorway travel. Just 500 miles involved motorway and dual carriageway travel the rest was typical winding, narrow and hilly Cornish roads with quite a bit of heavy town traffic to contend with. Given the load we were carrying and the amount of hills the 2008 climbed I thought the fuel economy was really impressive. Of course the emissions are low as well at 106g/km so VED road tax cost nothing for the First Year rate and then only £20 for the Year Two onwards rate.
This engine produces 270Nm (199lb ft) of torque from 1,750rpm. Most of the time on the open road that performance was fine and responsive but due to the higher fifth and sixth gear ratios for optimum fuel economy, on hills the response and ‘grunt’ was less impressive. On hilly and winding country roads I needed to keep the vehicle in a lower gear so as not to go below the 2,000rpm level which meant driving quite a lot of the time between third and fourth gears. If I used the gearchange prompts on the dashboard display the engine just couldn’t cope with the demands placed upon it going up steep hills so lots of gear-changing was needed. The gearchange indicator seems to use engine-revs as its prompt instead of engine load. In fact the six-speed manual gearbox had a nice slick gearchange so using ‘block-changes’, fifth to third or sixth to fourth for instance, helped. In reality using lower gears for longer periods on country roads didn’t seem to harm the real-life fuel economy as my vehicle’s 56.4mpg figure shows.
Other than lots of gearchanging in all other respects the 2008 was very easy to live with. It was comfortable, the road holding was predictable, it was easy to park and it cruised quite happily on the open road. With the grippier tyres there was a bit more road noise intrusion and the steering was a bit reluctant to give any meaningful feedback. These were tiny issues really given the huge advantages for practical modern-day motoring the Peugeot 2008 and other compact Crossovers offers. The advantages are considerable and the issues minimal.
MILESTONES: Peugeot 2008 Allure 1.6 e-HDi 115, 5-Door Compact Crossover. Price: £18,045. Engine/transmission: 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel with Stop&Start, 115hp, 270Nm (199lb ft) of torque from 1,750rpm, 6-speed manual with Grip Control. Performance: 117mph, 0-62mph 10.4 seconds, 70.6mpg Combined Cycle (56.4mpg on test), CO2 106g/km, VED roads tax £0 First Year rate then £20 Year Two onwards, BIK company car tax 17%, Insurance group: 20E. Warranty: 3-years unlimited mileage. Dimensions/capacities: Length 4,159mm, W 1,74mm, H 1,556mm, boot/load space 360 to 1,194-litres, braked towing weight 1,300kg. For: Smart design inside and out, well sized for modern-day use, good equipment level, fuel efficient, low taxes, comfortable, easy to park and to live with. Against: Lacks the usual low-down diesel engine grunt due to high 5/6th fuel saving gear ratios so lots of gearchanging needed for going up steep hills on rural roads. Miles Better News agency