Rugged looks and Peugeot’s innovative Grip Control system, which cleverly transfers torque to whichever front wheel has the most traction when tackling a slippery stretch of road, made the compact 2008 Crossover a good choice for a cross-country jaunt during which trees bent double and the heavens opened.
Usefully Grip Control has five different settings, to suit varying driving conditions. It comes as standard in Allure and Feline specifications of a vehicle that offers a wide spectrum of options,
As we wound our way along rutted, mud-strewn back roads we were snug in a cabin that oozed new levels of quality for a marque whose bodywork at one time used to often verge on the flimsy.
Little things really do often mean a lot and this car has well thought out fine detailing, including spacious if at times not very supportive seats, some pleasingly capacious door pockets, a stylishly curving dash with easy-read instruments – and you even get to choose between two different consoles.
The driving position is high, ensuring plenty of legroom, but I did find when pressing on that the tall stance and high ground clearance led to an element of instability when approaching what are not, to be honest, very impressive limits. But, then, this not meant to be in any way a sporting machine and while the 2008 Active 1.4 HDi 70 diesel in which I completed my week of test driving topped out at a modest 99 mph with a 0-62 mph figure of 14.9 seconds it did deliver me a very frugal 70 mpg in the combined cycle, along with very low emissions.
Running costs are low and, at £15,195 for my test version – the range starting out with the £12,995 1.2-litre VTi Access model and topping out with the £19,345 1.6-litre Feline – the 2008 Crossover should provide strong competition for the likes of the Mazda-5, the Nissan Qashqai and the Volvo XC60 as a car cut out for the country life and the inner-city maelstrom too.
And now a personal plea to the good Monsieur Peugeot: please quash your designers too prevalent habit, when it comes to right-hand drive models, of giving us nowhere to rest the left foot when it is not working the clutch. Oh, and a sixth gear would come in handy.