Editing Auto Express opens doors. My stint in the big chair earlier this year gave me a hotline to some industry high rollers and car-loving celebs.
But even I was taken aback when none other than Father Christmas himself gave me a bell last week, and asked if he could borrow our Peugeot 508 SW to deliver some presents to my daughter Isla!
He’d read my reports of its excellent practicality and was looking for some alternative transport, after his sleigh was sidelined when Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer called in sick.
And what a good choice Santa made. With its fold-down rear seats and 1,598-litre maximum capacity, there’s loads of space to carry plenty of presents. A net and tie-down hooks – which come as a £460 option with a motorised tailgate – ensure they don’t end up spreadeagled across the boot, too. Only the addition of a folding front passenger seat – as seen on the likes of Volvo’s V60 – would improve things.
There’s more to the Peugeot than sheer space, though. Santa enjoyed some comfortable motorway cruising, with the 140bhp 2.0-litre HDi engine providing decent punch, even when fully laden. However, his average fuel economy of 29.8mpg is even worse than I recorded in my report in Issue 1,187, and well short of the claimed 56.6mpg. Too much town driving is to blame.
Some of the 508’s neat features put a smile on his face. A USB socket allowed him to connect his iPod to play his favourite carols, while automatic headlight activation is sure to keep him safe through the festive season, and heated seats will keep him warm if the temperatures plunge.
All good so far, then, but is there anything about the 508 that could turn Santa into the Grinch? Well, the electrics have been a bit erratic. The service light has twice popped on then disappeared, while the console display randomly started flashing 1 January 2007 on start-up one morning.
The Peugeot has already been in the wars, too. I picked it up from my daughter’s nursery one night to find the car parked behind had got too close, and scraped the bumper.
I’d initially hoped to be able to sort the damage with T-Cut, but it’s down to the plastic – and the black paintjob I praised in my last update only highlights the scrape. I’ll speak to my mate Santa to ensure the culprit doesn’t get any gifts this year!
“The red outfit is a giveaway but if you hadn’t guessed, Santa is a style-conscious fellow. He could have borrowed our Skoda Superb Estate, which is bigger and better to drive than the Peugeot. What the Superb doesn’t have is the 508’s sporty profile. I think the SW looks better than the regular saloon version.”
Ross Pinnock, Road test editor