The world is in love with SUVs so French car maker Peugeot has nailed its colours to the mast with a raft of new models. On sale in January is the new 3008 SUV that I have just been driving near Bologna in Italy and due in the spring is the bigger 5008 SUV.
Previously both models were £€˜people carriers£€™ which maximised space but had blobby styling and always reminded me of guppy fish with extensive dental work. This time the styling is glamourous and definitely sports utility.
A lot of air intakes give the 3008 a strong face and lights are either halogen or LED. Careful styling means the car doesn£€™t look as tall as it actually is despite a high driving position. The range starts at £21,795 with a 128bhp turbocharged 1.2 litre petrol. There is also a 163bhp 1.6 litre petrol. BlueHDi 1.6 litre engines offer 99 or 118bhp. Two 2-litre diesel engines offer 148 or 177bhp. Most buyers are expected to go diesel but I preferred the smoothness of the petrol. The BlueHDi diesel engines also come with a 99 or 118bhp 1.6-litre or 148bhp 2-litre power.
The car has to have the best cabin I have seen in a Peugeot. As well as the signature tiny steering wheel the high-mounted instrument pod is digital with a variety of displays available.
A touch screen in the centre of the dashboard deals with the stereo, heater and satellite navigation controls which are operated using toggle switches. It will take some time in your drive to figure all this stuff out.
The 3008 uses classy cabin materials but on some cars where two kinds of material met they did not always fit together precisely. Some cars used aged oak, but finished in grey, for a modern look. The driving position was rather too upright for me, and if you are in the back the backrests don£€™t recline.
The glass roof, standard on GT models reduces rear seat headroom. Claims of exceptional road holding for the type of vehicle and a very good chassis were proved on roads that at times twisted every hundred metres.
Body control is also impressive with very little lean even when tackling corners with enthusiasm. Too many manufacturers use stiff suspension and after some years of losing its way Peugeot is back with a great blend of comfort and road holding.
Despite its appearance, the 3008 does not have four-wheel drive but electronic grip control and hill descent control for ice, snow or muddy tracks. If you go off road the body is shaped so that you can tackle a 20-degree slope at the front and 29 degrees at the rear when descending onto a flat surface from a slope.
At motorway speeds, the 3008 was calm and quiet though you can tell the diesel engines if you need higher revs. Some will mourn the loss of the odd car£€™s split tailgate, but the boot floor slides out to create a platform for removing boots etc. You can fold the rear seats by pulling on a hook.
There£€™s a space-saver spare tyre instead of a can of aerosol filler and you can open the electric tailgate by waving your foot under the bumper if your hands are full.
Representatives from price value guides like Glass£€™s on the launch were positive about the car which should help second-hand values in due course. Peugeot expects to sell 500,000 SUVs next year. £€œWe will adjust to what people want,£€ said a spokesman. £€œWe are very agile.£€
Also consider Kia Sportage, Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar.
Verdict Style and lots of equipment but what will the price be?