Tough LITTLE CROSSOVER
Whether you’re doing some light bundu-bashing or manoeuvring into a tiny parking space, the new Peugeot is well worth the money, writes Ané Theron
With our somewhat ill-maintained South African roads, more people are opting for small, fuel-efficient crossover vehicles. These usually have higher clearance, roof rails, skid plates and higher profile tyres to withstand the odd pothole or two, but quite often these off-road embellishments are just cosmetic.
The new Peugeot 2008 (R269 900), however, had its outdoor abilities thoroughly checked when I took it to Rietfontein in the Agulhas National Park.
The 2008 looks typically French with that fresh, stylish, quirky character, combined with oodles of practicality and solid build quality. The steering wheel (with satellite controls) is quite small, so you have an unobstructed view of the instrument panel, which is placed quite high. This means your eyes hardly ever need to leave the road. The Smeg 18cm colour screen in the centre of the dash is touchenabled and home to the standard infotainment system, which includes a GPS and sound system with Bluetooth streaming and hands-free telephony.
I had some difficulty entering a new address into the GPS and because I try to avoid instruction manuals, I felt that it should have been more intuitive. The footwell also seems a little cramped, with the clutch and brake pedal situated quite close to each other. But I reckon it’s something one will get used to. With the kids strapped in the back, we set off. The first stretch of road to Stanford is tarred, yet bumpy, but the 2008’s suspension is quite soft and the kids even managed to doze off. After driving through Gansbaai and past Franskraal on the endless and deserted R43, I finally spotted the turn-off to Rietfontein.
I hit the dirt road a little too enthusiastically and got that unfamiliar feeling of uncertainty as the tyres skidded on the gravel. Fortunately, stability control is standard, and I could feel how it kept us on the right path, so to speak.
Then the road got remarkably worse – it had recently been battered by the last of the winter rainstorms. The 2008 features nifty grip control with a selector knob situated above the contemporarylooking handbrake, so I turned the rotary dial from its default “normal” setting to “all terrain” for increased sure-footedness. Other options are “snow” and “sand”.
Just before lunchtime, we arrived at the Agulhas Nature Reserve sign, and here I turned the dial to “sand” to avoid getting stuck. Well done, 2008! I wouldn’t take it on any advanced 4x4 courses, but at least you won’t have to catch a lift to every pretty picnic spot. So what about space, performance and other modcons? The 2008 seems very compact from the outside, but I was quite surprised by its ample rear legroom. I also managed to fit three weeks’ worth of luggage for three people into its 350-litre boot.
The 2008’s 1.6-litre engine is mated with a fivespeed manual gearbox. Because of the 2008’s compact dimensions, the 88kW engine is more than up to the task. At higher speed, there’s a fair bit of road and engine noise, and a sixth gear would have come in handy. Still, it’s not enough to put me off buying one if I had the cash. Fuel economy is a pleasing average of 7.2 litres per 100km.
For a full list of specifications, visit peugeot.co.za
The writer with the new Peugeot 2008