Published on May 23rd, 2014 | by Gavin0
Road Tripping in a Mini SUV
Did Someone Say Road Trip?!
Who doesn’t love a good road trip, especially if it’s with 3 of your dearest lifelong friends? Some of my fondest memories have been on random car journeys to the back end of nowhere contending with everything from torrential rain, 10 mile tailbacks, and punctured tyres. But despite all the set backs, I wouldn’t have changed any of it; as these mishaps helped formed the close bonds I now have with my friends.
So that brings me onto our most recent roadtrip to Southport Weekender, an annual dance music festival that takes place in the ultra glam, star studded arena that is Butlins Minehead. About 4 hours drive away from London via motorways, A roads, and country lanes; if any voyage was going to test our roadtrip nous, THIS would be it. Ideally we want to actually get to Somerset without hiccup, as we have a solid 3 days of partying planned, but the problem is only 2 of us have cars; and we’d be lucky if either of our vehicles could make it beyond the M25 unscathed.
Do we get public transport instead? Not a chance with all these crates of beer I’ve bought! Plane? Too expensive and where’s the fun in that. The solution? A mini SUV aka the ‘Crossover’ vehicle- big enough to hold four adults comfortably and agile enough to get us round the winding roads. The Crossover of choice for our journey of discovery is the Peugeot 2008, a car based on the success of the 208 but with a family element. To help make our trip as comfortable as possible, I’ve hired the top spec £19745 1.6l Diesel Feline model which comes with the full works; Sat Nav, leather seats, 17” alloys, Start/Stop, Panoramic roof, and any other mod con you can think of.
In real life, the 2008 is a lot smaller than first imagined when looking at the brochure. Judging by the cleverly angled press shots, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was an Audi Q5 or Nissan Qashqai, but is actually more like a VW Golf in platform shoes. Inside though, despite being 6ft tall, I’ve got plenty of headroom to spare, and the heated leather seats make it easy to find a comfortable driving position. The boot is an equally impressive size and we manage to fit 5 small suitcases and a few beer crates without obstructing the rear view. However, all this space comes at a cost to rear passengers, and two of my friends play a highly charged game of Rock, Paper, Scissors to decide who sits behind me.
And after the arguments and innumerable re-runs of Rock, Paper, Scissors, we are finally ready to hit the road and only an hour behind schedule; this is a first! The small, go-kart like steering wheel of the 2008 makes me want to attack the road like Lewis Hamilton, but after observing my passengers get flung across their seats after the first turn, I have to take a rather more conservative approach to cornering. On straight roads and motorway speeds, the 2008 is much more at home and despite only being a heavy 115bhp diesel, it is still quite nippy at the top end, even if very sluggish out of 1st and 2nd gear.
In terms of interior gadgets, everything is run off an iPad style touchscreen panel, which to be honest isn’t the most user friendly, and even though I’d like to think I’m a bit of a tech geek, it wasn’t easy to learn. Also, some of the functions were so long winded that I was taking my eyes off the road for far too long just to adjust the speaker settings. And this leads me on to my next minor bug; while on a road trip, you want the tunes pumping through every part of your body, but despite being the top of the range model, the system struggled with the bass heavy beats of Drake & *cough* Now That’s What I Call Music 83 (I’m allowed one guilty pleasure).
While driving along the long, single file track leading to Stonehenge, I’m given time to reflect on what the 2008 has to offer. I’m useless with massive cars as they are a pain to park, cost a bomb to run and aren’t as fun to drive as a sporty hatchback. But on the other hand, I can see the appeal if you have small kids and want them to feel safe in the back. I suppose the Crossover is supposedly a compromise between the two at the price of a family hatch; and therein lies the problem for me. For a similar price I could get a 1.6l Ford Focus or Peugeot 308, which offer nearly as much room inside, equally good safety features, and a better driving experience. It just doesn’t feel worth it for the sake of a slightly higher ride height and a generously sized boot.
If I was a mum of two on the school run, my opinion may be different; but for my next weekend trip with the lads, I know which I’d choose.
Peugeot 2008 Crossover, starting from £12,995. The model I reviewed was 1.6 e-HDi Feline in Pearl White with ‘Mistral’ Ambience, priced £19,745.