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Realising the market for supermini estates is falling and that diminutive SUV-style cars are on the up, Peugeot has ditched its 207 SW and built the 2008.
The change is a successful one. While there are still hints of 207 SW styling at the rear, on its own the 2008 is good looking and purposeful, with slightly raised suspension and a big (360-litre) boot with easy-to-fold rear seats.
The car shares much of the engine line-up that goes into the 208 hatch. That means there are three diesel and two petrol engines, of which the 92hp 1.6 diesel will be the best seller, both overall and within fleet. And as with the 208, the 2008 is significantly lighter than its predecessor; in this case, by more than 100kg. The lower weight translates directly into economy and emissions improvements. Both the 92hp and 115hp diesel come in below 110g/km for CO2. Official economy figures are impressive at over 70mpg in all the diesels.
These figures stand up well against the increasing number of competitors in this sector. Couple good economy to good equipment levels plus competitive pricing, and residual values are also strong.
The drive experience in the diesels is positive too. Both 1.6 HDI units are refined and quiet even at motorway speeds. Unfortunately, the 120hp 1.6 petrol is not refined, particularly on the motorway thanks to very short gearing, which sees high revs (and noise levels) at 70mph, and is best avoided. The petrol aside, the 2008 drives well, with a comfortable ride and - for a car in this class - little body roll when cornering.
Peugeot markets the vehicle as having basic off-road skills, even though it is not offered with all-wheel drive. Instead there's 'Grip Control', standard on upper trim levels with most engines, which equips the car with all-season tyres suitable for mud and snow, and clever electronics to maximise grip from the front wheels. But despite a demonstration, it's hard to say how impressive Grip Control is without a benchmark, such as a regular car on winter tyres. Fleets may also want to consider the additional tyre wear and fuel consumption that comes with the all-season tyres, rather than the latest eco versions.
In terms of rivals, the 2008 has to compete against the Renault Captur. Launching at the same time and also a supermini-based SUV, it is impossible to ignore a car that is much better looking and has a much greater colour range than the 2008's sombre pallet. For this reason alone, the latter may just trail the Renault in terms of desirability and RVs. However, the Peugeot is a sound car in an increasingly busy segment of the market and deserves to do well in fleet.