I presume you’ve seen the TV advert that’s been running recently for Peugeot’s new marketing campaign?
It features a red Peugeot depicted as a jigsaw, and is presented by an oh-so-cuddly voice over man who tells us warmly how, for just £171 per month, your next Peugeot can come with three years roadside assistance, three years tax, three years insurance and three years free warranty and servicing.
‘Just add fuel‚’ exclaims voice over man at the end, in much the same way that your local vicar might address his congregation of a Sunday morning.
All of has which got me thinking; such ease of ownership must seem terribly alluring to the sort of person who sees their car in the same light as their fridge or washing machine. But for the enthusiast, however, it’s surely a gigantic turn off, being encouraged to regard your car in the same vein as a set of white goods.
And that’s surely not such a smart move from a company that also wants us to believe that it will ‘thrill us again’ with its new 208, a car that will apparently feature ‘some of the driving characteristics of the legendary 205’.
What will such characteristics be, one wonders? Will the 208 start in the same way as the 205, ie via the twist of a good old-fashioned key? Nope. Will it steer in the same way, like a go-kart that’s been hardwired into your brain, featuring so much feel from the rear axle that your backside actually feels part of the suspension? I doubt it somehow.
So will it ride and handle in a similar fashion, then, providing a maniacally edgy mix of turn in oversteer and neurotic front end bite, with a surprisingly chilled primary ride to go with it? Au contraire, as the inimitable Del Boy Trotter might have put it. Or ‘not a chance’ if that doesn’t mean much to you.
What it also won’t do, of course, is freeze your nuts off when its heater expires on a cold winter’s evening, or leave you stuck on the side of the M23 because its alternator has given up the ghost. Nor will it need to be persuaded back into life with the aid of a tin of WD40, a small hammer and a pair of pliers, applied to a starter that has ceased to function. Again.
And what the 208 won’t do, ever, is engage you in the simple but very pure art of driving like the 205 so obviously did, even if it does come with a ‘you don’t have to lift a finger for three years’ after sales package.
Sorry Peugeot, but you can’t have it both ways in this instance, no matter how slick your latest ad campaign may appear. So how about you cut back on the hyperbole this time round and don’t even try to persuade us that you’ve reinvented the 205 GTi (again). Because no one will believe you (again).
Instead, just tell us that you’ve made a good looking, high quality, reliable little hatchback out of the 208, a car that’s fun drive and pleasantly quick, and which won’t ruin the planet but will be as painless as possible to own in the process.
Then perhaps we won’t all be too disappointed when we come to drive it. And the 205’s legacy can finally be laid to rest.