Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Peugot Shark

The car hire firm dropped off a car I'd never seen before, when they delivered my works car last week.

It turned out to be a Peugot Shark - named after someone in the trade, perhaps?

It was one of those pseudo 4-wheel-drive things. I'm not a fan of 4X4 cars and can't really understand why anyone who's not a farmer would want one.
"I have a dog!" they cry. Well before I met Miss Franny, one of my girlfriends had a dog - a big one. I had a Mini and old Scamp never once complained that the back seat wasn't big enough... Most dogs fit neatly into the back of an estate car or an MPV.

Anyway, what did I think of the Peugot? For a start, it was designed by someone who had been driving a long time. By which I mean they had forgotten what it is like to be nervous at getting into a new car. I don't mean myself here. I drive around 30,000 miles a year and drive a different car almost every week and have got to know where most knobs and switches are.

But this thing had 4 sticks coming out of the steering column. So one will be wipers and one will be lights... One was to control the sound system - they are not just "radios" anymore! The other was for cruise control.

The problem was that the middle of the steering wheel was so big that it hid all of the markings on these controls. I only found out what did what by experimenting. Not good. The good people at Peugot thought so much about their airbag that they had created a space for it that almost equalled the diameter of the steering wheel. There was room to curl my fingers around the wheel but not much to see through except at the top where they left a gap to allow you to view the dashboard displays. Good unless you were going round a corner and wanted to know how fast...

This is really picky I know, but in the centre of the steering wheel is the Peugot rearing lion motif. It isn't on any sort of plinth and the leather of the steering wheel centre is cut around the emblem. Except it has such little inlets for mouth etc. that a snug fit is impossible and to me it looked really tacky.

It drove fine. The diesel engine wasn't over noisy though it did have the characteristic pause before it revved enough to nip out of a turning, by which time it was no longer safe to nip. The 6-speed gearbox was smooth, though compared with my Mazda you had to be going at a higher speed before you could change up and feel comfortable that the engine was going to cope.

The parking brake is electronic and the toggle sort - pulling the handle up both puts it on and off, though after the initial start you can forget about letting it off and just set off and it will release the brake automatically. With features like this on modern cars it makes me wonder why I have to pip my horn at so many pillocks who can't control their clutch and start rolling backwards at you at the traffic lights...


The speedo was much more accurate than most cars too, when the dashboard said 70mph my SatNav said 68 - the average car seems to be doing around 66 or less. I have, by the way, checked the SatNav against lots of roadside speed displays and the speed shown by the SatNav tallies with those at 30, 40, 50 and 60mph. Quite often to do 70mph the car's speedo will be only just short of 80.

So to sum up, a nice car with a badly thought out steering wheel and control design and one that will cost you more than necessary to put new tyres on. Buy an estate or an MPV. Unless you really are a farmer...

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