The daily grind aside, driving is and always will be a form of stress reliever for most of us. Perhaps, you can even call it therapeutic.
What would make a drive even better? Perhaps a jaunt through scenic roads and expressways that make road trips a rewarding experience.
Peugeot Philippines recently invited us in their 2015 Southern Sojourn media drive to ride and drive the newly-launched 2008 mini crossover along with other Peugeot vehicles such as the 301, the updated 508 and the 3008. The drive took us through the picturesque sights of CAVITEx to the breathtaking Ternate-Nasugbu mountain road.
The Peugeot 301
I first got in Peugeot’s entry-level model, the 301. It is the company's take on making a compact entry-level sedan and it does not disappoint. It looks a little more Teutonic than Gallic compared to the 508 and 208, but the 'smiling' front grill and distinct taillights make it unmistakably Peugeot.
Before we could make our way towards CAVITEx, we had to go through the congested roads of Andrews Avenue and a portion of Roxas Boulevard. While stuck in traffic, we noticed how comfortable and spacious the 301 was for an entry-level compact.
It may look small on the outside but aboard the 301, it is quite spacious thanks to its long wheelbase. Taller people will not have any problems sitting comfortably in the back even if there’s a similarly tall driver or passenger at the front, within reason of course.
Upon reaching the entry point of CAVITEx, the sight of the open road was a welcome sight. The pull from the small turbodiesel engine was impressive. Despite having a maximum capacity of only 1.6-liters, the engine responded very well and the light 5-speed manual gearbox was quite the match.
It soaked up the 14km expressway admirably with every road imperfection absorbed by the car's suspension. The stress free drive was helped further by its noise isolation as there was little or nothing at all.
It was then out of CAVITEx and into provincial roads. Despite only being able to generate 92 PS from its turbocharged diesel motor, the 230 Nm of torque readily available at 1,750 rpm gives it more than enough grunt. The 1,090 kg weight might also be a contributing factor to the car's agility.
It was along the scenic and twisty Ternate-Nasugbu Road that I was able to fully test the handling capability of the compact 301. The electronic power steering provides enough feedback and road feel to the driver, letting him know where the car is actually going. Going through the bends and tight curves, the 301 showed some roll but remained planted throughout the drive. The confident handling helped me to safely go through the mountain road at a decent pace.
The clear roads, scenic views of the coast, provincial roads and overall good weather was a welcoming sight compared to the congested and polluted air of Metro Manila.
After tackling the twisty roads, we finally arrived at our destination, Pico De Loro Beach & Country Club. I half-expected to be tired or looking to rest up after the long drive but the 301 was that comfortable to drive.
The Peugeot 2008
After spending a night at the Pico Sands Hotel, it was time to head back to the metro. For the return trip, I finally got to ride in the recently-launched Peugeot 2008 mini crossover. Essentially a 208 hatch that's been made higher and longer, the 2008 was described by the automaker of having the 'driving characteristics of a hatchback and the strength of a mini SUV'.
One look at the 2008 and you know it isn't German or Japanese, or from any other car building nation you can think of. The design is unmistakably French with its smiling' front fascia accompanied by a floating grill design, swept-up headlights and a sculpted hood. Another interesting design feature is the 'kicked-up' roofline which was derived from the RCZ sports car.
Inside, hues of black, gray and beige can be seen aboard the 2008 along with soft-touch plastic trim, chrome accents and piano black trims gives it a high quality finish. As a bonus, all of the seats are upholstered in black leather.
At the turn of the key, starts the 1.6-liter VTi gasoline-fed inline-four that generates 120 PS and 160 Nm of torque. The front-wheel drive mini-crossover has a 4-speed automatic gearbox with manual override and Sport mode.
Equipped with a gas engine, the 2008 didn't have the same instantaneous response from the 301. Engaging Sport Mode with a press of a button however helped the car take on the uphill sections with less effort. Out on the open road, the 2008 performed well and soaked up road bumps without a hitch. The engine was also very spritely and was a delight at cruising speeds.
The 2008's ride quality is very supple and delivers comfortable damping. It also has great sound deadening as road noise and outside wind noise were practically non-existent. The electronic power-assisted steering didn't give as much feel like the one found in the 301 but the speed sensitive system gradually improves feedback.
As it is still based on the 208's platform, you can feel the hot hatch's DNA handling when tackling the bends. Throwing the gearbox into Manual Mode also makes things more interesting, allowing drivers to make the most out of the 1.6-liter engine. It has no paddle shifters but the traditional manumatic function adds feel when shifting.
We arrived at Peugeot Pasay after nearly a 2 hour and 30 minute drive. Before getting behind the wheel of the 2008, I anticipated that driving the mini crossover will greatly differ from a sedan or hatchback. But like what Peugeot claimed earlier, the 2008 still carries hatchback handling while sporting the practicality and space of a small SUV.
A sensational treat
Cruising along the rural, mountainous and coastal roads of Batangas and Cavite was a treat for the senses as congestion in the two provinces practically did not exist. The panoramic views that came along with the southern drive provided soothing sights that was a welcome change from the dreary backdrop of the Metro.
Topping the driving experience was getting to drive the Peugeot 301 and 2008. One is an entry-level sedan with a fine interior and a potent diesel engine while the other one is a very capable premium mini crossover that is great for cruising along highways or around the city. Both are great cars for a weekend vacation or the daily grind.
Getting to drive a new vehicle doesn't have to be mundane or by the book. Treating yourself to new experiences while driving can have interesting results while still within one's boundaries.
Based on the Southern Sojourn media drive, it is safe to say that 'the journey itself is the destination'.