I?live down a dirt track which has a fair and lengthy slope on it. In winter when it is covered in snow it can be a devil to get out of in a car without four-wheel drive. Once you have managed those few hundred yards and get on to tarmac and where the gritters and snow ploughs have been through, it is very rare that you can't progress.
So buying a four-wheel drive at not inconsiderable expense, may be a little overkill for those few days when you really need that grip. But then I do go to country events where I also sometimes need a little extra traction in muddy fields.
However, for the majority of the time, all I need is two-wheel capability.
So . . . that's where the 2008 comes in. Get the right trim level and you can combine all-weather tyres with Peugeot's great gizmo, its own Grip Control system. Patented by the PSA Group it optimises traction in conditions of poor grip by acting on the front wheels when you select the type of ground you need to cover – for snow, off-road, road. You can also switch off the ESP as well. And to prove just how good it is Peugeot took motoring writers to the Snowdome in Tamworth to really put it through its paces.
I took the wheel and tried a car with normal tyres up the first part of the snow slope. Just a few feet and the wheels were spinning before we slithered back.
Then I tried it with those all-weather tyres, selected snow on Grip Control, hit around 200 revs and flew up the slope and also come neatly back down – when I wanted to!
It arrives on our roads in a couple of weeks time and sales in mainland Europe, where it has been around for a few months, have already proved so strong that production has been doubled.
Peugeot hopes to sell around 9,000 of them in 12 months and I can see that being easily achieved once potential buyers have been behind the wheel.
The 2008 is based on the great little 208 hatchback, released last year and which is often spotted on our roads.
Underneath it is the same including engines but it has extra length and height and there's a bigger boot.
It has the same stylish swept-back headlights and a bold chrome grille. Giving it a 'rougher look' are the roof rails and slightly squared off wheel arches.
There are four trim levels Access+, Active, Allure & Feline with a comprehensive range of Petrol VTi and Diesel e-HDi engines.
Standard equipment includes electric front windows, one touch for driver; remote-controlled central locking; cruise control with speed limiter; electrically operated and heated door mirrors;?height and reach adjustable steering wheel; driver's seat height adjustment;radio/CD player with steering column-mounted controls; 3.5mm jack for external audio device; anti-lock braking (ABS); Electronic Stability Programme (ESP); six airbags (front driver and passenger, side airbags and curtain airbags).
The rear passengers have a decent amount of space, thanks to the thinner front seat backs, and a 12V socket for the connection of a portable device. Without leaving their seat, they can access the boot even when the vehicle is moving.
From the outside, access to the large boot is just as easy with a large opening and a low loading sill, and a stainless steel protector. The modular bench seat allows you to change the space from 360 to 1194m3, of which 22m3 are under the floor, with a single gesture. Simply press on the control at the top of the rear seat back and that's all it takes to fold the seat back, the seat cushion retracts automatically.
Getting luggage into the boot is easy and there are six hooks, allowing items to be secured safely. The boot also offers two storage areas on the sides, with a retaining strap and a storage net, and an additional space of 22 litres under the boot mat.
Passengers have several storage compartments; front and rear courtesy lamps; front door trays; glove box; tray and drinks holder near the gear lever; console-closed storage compartment and pockets on the front seat backs. In total, the storage volume is 24 litres. So, keys, smartphones and other everyday objects always find a place in the 2008.
Well it's thoughtful inside and the 2008 gives a comfortable ride and handles smartly for such a high-riding car and corners well.
A lot of SUVs aren't that attractive to look at, but this looks clean and modern outside and the interior follows the 208, which is unlike anything Peugeot has attempted before.
The end result is a nicely-put-together vehicle with high-quality materials. You also get the same tiny steering wheel which annoyed a lot of testers when the 208 was introduced, with claims they couldn't read the dials once the wheel was adjusted to their choice. Well I?didn't find a problem. Some people just look for something to moan about.
There's a range of eight different engines but I particularly enjoyed the 1.6-litre e-HDi diesel – which you can get in either 91bhp or 113bhp. There's plenty of get up and go and refinement, especially on the motorway – after all Peugeot should get the diesels right as they've been producing them for longer than many manufacturers.
The launch was 'snow joke' but the Peugeot 2008 certainly showed off its ski skills and many others at the summer launch!
Engines available: 1.2 petrol to 1.6 diesel
Warranty: Three years, unlimited mileage
Economy: The 1.6 e-HDi can reach an official 70.6mpg
Insurance group: TBC
Price: From £12,995 to £19,195