Peugeot£€™s compact SUV, the 2008, with its £€˜floating£€™ front grille has never appealed to me style wise. That£€™s a personal thing and a lot of people obviously felt differently because Peugeot has sold 585,000 in total and more than 40,000 in the UK since it was launched in 2013.
For its mid-life facelift the car, based on the 208 hatch, has been given a more obvious sports utility look which I think really works. An attractive new GT Line trim replaces the Feline one, though backlights with, ahem, slashes inspired by a lion£€™s claws remain. A lion is Peugeot£€™s badge, remember?
The car looks much more masculine though not actually butch and I suspect that will help it find even more buyers. New wheel arch extensions add to the £€˜go-anywhere£€™ styling.
Prices start at a value for money £13.615 for the 1.2 turbo petrol Access model and go to £20,165 for the top of the range Blue HDi diesel GT Line. The model I tried first was a 110bhp 1.2 litre turbo petrol automatic on rain swept Cotswold roads, across muddy fields and through a specially created sand pit.
The 2008 is front-wheel drive only; but as the company proved before on the snow and ice of the Tamworth Snowdome, modern day electronics, badged here Grip Control, means the car can tackle terrain that would have standard cars floundering and struggling for traction.
It was a shock to be diverted into a muddy field because the car is so road friendly and quite agile, despite its raised ground clearance, that I had briefly forgotten its off-Tarmac capabilities on its mud and snow tyres.
The small steering wheel and high level instruments now seems quite normal and the six-speed conventional automatic behaved well. Even driving briskly it managed 36.6mpg to 38.1mpg.
I am not a fan of seats with stepped backrests and felt I was not in the perfect driving position for me. The cabin is best in class and that£€™s despite the top of the dashboard, top of doors and side of centre console plastic looking a bit cheap. The handbrake has an aircraft throttle style grip which adds another touch of character.
GT Line trim in classic black and red looks almost as sporty as GTi but the car has more sober engines than GTI models. Look out for Ultimate Red with the special multi-layered varnish paint finish. It looked great even on a dull day. With 129bhp on tap and a good gear change the 130 Pure Tech will put a smile on your face.
The three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine pulls so strongly it could woo people who normally prefer the lazy torque of turbo diesels. In my hands the car averaged from 38.1mpg to 43.4mpg. The quick steering might feel nervous until you get used to it.
A head-up instrument display projects your speed on to a transparent screen which rises out of the top of the instrument panel and lets you keep your eyes on the road more of the time.
The boot load sill is only 60cms off the ground. Boot capacity varies from 410 to 1,400 litres if you flip down the one-third/two-thirds split rear seats. There are hooks to strap down items and a luggage net on one side and a fastening strap on the other.
Weighing only 1,045kg has let Peugeot£€™s engineers work some wizardry on the suspension to deliver a sporty but comfortable ride. Some of the lower power petrol engines would be difficult to live with and models are quite pricey as you venture further up the range.
Also consider: Suzuki Vitara and Skoda Yeti.
Verdict Perfectly aimed at so many possible buyers