Stylish, bold and practical to boot

 
Ryan Borroff
Peugeot’s alternative to a regular hatchback is a car that can pull you out of an icy spot this winter

THE CLASSIC Chelsea Tractor is pretty impractical for most Londoners; it’s expensive to run, the side streets can be narrow and you practically invite abuse from cyclists. This is probably why small crossovers have been such a big hit in the city.

A lovechild of the SUV and hatchback, Peugeot’s latest offering, the 2008 Feline, has none of those drawbacks but it keeps the same high ride height and commanding view, decent boot space and feeling of safety. It’s a car that’s designed to appeal to young families who like to think of themselves as trendy and want to drive a car with a bit more originality than your bog-standard hatchback.

This class probably boasts more quirky-looking, love-them-or-hate-them cars than any other, like the beach-buggy style Nissan Juke, Renault’s stylish new Captur and the chubby Mini Countryman.

Peugeot’s 2008 is funny looking, too. If it looks like a higher, wider, longer and more spacious version of the 208, that’s because it is. It’s tall and quite thickset with an awkward face that looks like a fish puckering up. But whether you think the 2008 is handsome or not, there’s no denying it’s bold, with strong, dynamic creases along the bonnet and sides, feline headlights and unusual C-shaped tail lamps.

Things are even better inside. The flair, space and quality of the cabin is genuinely surprising and it feels luxurious. The unusually small steering wheel is a particularly suave touch although, depending on your height, it may obscure your view of the instruments.

My test car came equipped with an extremely large panoramic sunroof. I’m not exaggerating when I say that, from the driver’s seat, it feels as if the entire roof from windscreen to rear screen is made of glass. It isn’t, but the feeling of spaciousness and the huge amount of light that pours in makes for some very pleasant driving on a bright, sunny day. There is plenty of substance behind the style, too. There’s a decent amount of space for passengers and, when you turf them out and fold down their seats, the 2008 could also lug up to 1,194 litres worth of junk to the tip at the weekend.

Like its competitors, it’s as adept at getting you out of a muddy field after a wedding in the country as it is pulling you out of your cul-de-sac on an icy morning. Having only driven it on city roads, I can’t say anything about its off-road ability but I can vouch for how well suited it is to urban excursions. My test car featured a Grip Control system, which adds some off-road ability but without the added weight of a mechanical 4x4 system. You can choose to switch into snow, sand and all-terrain modes. I cannot say how effective it is in the Arctic or the desert but it could be useful in London if the reports of a three-month freeze are to be believed. As anyone that lives in the capital knows, the authorities don’t always grit and plough the side streets and getting a car out to the main road can be very difficult indeed. The various modes available could be unexpectedly useful at this time of year.

It’s an unexpectedly pleasant drive, too. The diesel Feline 1.6 e-HDi 92 model I tested was likeable, with a drive that felt quicker than the official figures of 0-62mph in 12.8 seconds. The Peugeot 2008 Feline’s frugal fuel consumption of just 70.6mpg – thanks to its stop-start system – and CO2 emissions of just 103g/km make it worth considering if you’re looking for a decent, energy efficient alternative to a regular hatchback.

THE FACTS:
PEUGEOT 2008 FELINE 1.6 E-HDI 92

PRICE: £18,645
0-62MPH: 12.8 secs
TOP SPEED: 113mph
CO2 G/KM: 103g/km
MPG COMBINED: 70.6mpg

THE VERDICT:
DESIGN Three Stars
PERFORMANCE Three Stars
PRACTICALITY Four Stars
VALUE FOR MONEY Four Stars