Gareth Butterfield tests out the Peugeot 2008 to see if it can help him understand just what a “crossover” is
THE crossover, I must confess, is a sector of the car industry I’ve never quite got my head around.
Take Peugeot’s 2008, for example. It’s bigger than a hatchback, smaller than a 4×4, can’t quite cut it as an off-roader but it’s not really a people carrier or an estate car.
But the French manufacturer has been selling the 2008 in droves, so it’s obviously convinced the buying public that it is, in fact, all those things. Perhaps I’m missing the point.
In many ways it’s a winning combination. The 2008 rides very well, better than its 208 sibling, but doesn’t feel like a carelessly jacked-up version in the bends.
It has a clever switchable traction control system linked to the front-wheel-drive only drivetrain, which also means it’ll perform better on a wet road or – if you must – through a muddy field.
It’s also bigger inside which will come as no surprise, but thanks to Peugeot’s continuing mission to make their cars feel more upmarket and premium, it also has an air of quality and “expensiveness” you might not be expecting.
In fact, as you slump into the 2008’s comfy seats and grip its sculpted (if incredibly small) steering wheel, you do have to remind yourself you’re about to pilot a car that can be had for a shade over £13,000.
It might have a premium feel to it, but Peugeot is under no illusion that crossover buyers won’t pay over the odds. It’s been priced extremely sensibly.
That’s not to say your 2008 can’t get quite pricey if you start opting for extra kit, or a clever engine. But even the base model has plenty of goodies thrown in, you’ll be pleased to hear.
There’s plenty of choice in the engine line-up, too. The 1.6-litre e-HDi diesel is the most efficient engine in the range, with a claimed maximum MPG of 74.3 and CO2 emissions of just 98g/km.
The entry-level 1.4HDi diesel performs just as well, with an official fuel economy of 70.6mpg.
The petrols obviously don’t fare as well, with the 120bhp 1.6 VTi managing 47.9mpg and the 82bhp 1.2 VTi claiming 57.6mpg.
As you would no doubt hope from a car of this size and shape, there is plenty of space to be had inside. The rear seats could perhaps offer slightly more leg room, but it’s not going to put buyers off.
There’s still plenty of luggage space and some clever storage solutions dotted about.
Pick a model with all the trimmings and you’ll get leather seats, a powerful stereo, some very upmarket mood lighting and Peugeot’s rather excellent infotainment system.
Designing a decent crossover must be a headache. The car that results can either be a jack of all trades or a master of none.
On the face of it, you’d not expect there to be a happy medium between the small hatchback it grew from or the soft-roader it stops short of becoming.
But, truth be told, it manages quite well to be plenty of things in between.
So perhaps I do finally get this new crossover craze. I can see why cars like the Peugeot will appeal to people who want to have their cake and eat it.
So am I a crossover convert? I don’t think so, if I’m honest. Is the 2008 still a good car when you strip away a moniker that makes little sense? Absolutely, yes.