A HIGH tech driving treat is about to be unleashed by Peugeot as the French car maker steals a march on Audi with its all-new 3008 SUV.
Standard on every model in the new Peugeot line up is a virtual instrument panel the likes of which would be a pricey extra on the German cars.
It's part of the latest i-Cockpit technology developed by Peugeot for the second generation of its pioneering crossover which will be on sale later in the year.
Priced from £21,795 the new 3008 signals a shift up market for the French brand and the car is impressive on every front.
As before, it can be had with Peugeot's electronic GripControl traction system which enables it to perform in tough conditions such as snow, sand and mud.
It's clever kit and gives the car a modicum of 4x4 ability without compromising everyday fuel economy.
The new 3008 is bigger and chunkier than the original, looks very modern and will also be available in a distinctive two-tone body finish that Peugeot calls Coupe Franche - first seen on the 308 GTi hot hatch.
In the SUV set the new 3008 is a smart offering and is serious about its status with 22cm of ground clearance, an approach limit of 20 degrees and a departure angle of 29 - credible off road figures and backed up with hill descent control.
But it is on the inside where the new 3008 excels and the driving environment is out on its own.
A high console, sculpted gear lever and a bank of toggle switches set below an eight-inch colour touchscreen form the centre of the cockpit while the steering wheel is smaller than the norm allowing the new look instrument cluster to stand proud.
Five displays can be scrolled through ranging from traditional dials and gauges to a 3D map for the sat nav and the way the full colour graphics cascade around the screen is almost as entertaining as it is functional.
It is high end electronics which propel this Peugeot to the top of the affordable techno league.
Other kit includes full smartphone integration, TomTom navigation software with live traffic and travel information and a beefy audio system supplied by French hi-fi specialists Focal.
Driver aids add lane departure warning, blind spot monitors and automatic cruise control and on the comfort front there's a fragrance diffuser the can be set to three levels of intensity plus a multi-coloured ambient light array.
There's even a tracking system to show the location of the vehicle either on your phone screen or tablet.
The top grade 3008 GT comes with Bentley-esque quilted leather upholstery, wooden trim and a full length sunroof making it very classy. It's in the same league as a Range Rover Evoque and on the image front alone that is going to win over plenty of fans.
Just a glance at the studded grille on the new Peugeot shows it means business.
Luggage space is above average at 591 litres and features an adjustable boot floor than can slide out by a foot to become an impromptu seat or picnic table. Maximum capacity is of estate car proportions at 1,670 litres.
And to appeal to city centre commuters, Peugeot has teamed up with scooter company Micro to fit the 3008 with a docking station to house a foldaway electric e-Kick scooter in the boot, recharging on the go and ready to shuttle around town.
The scooter has a 7.5 mile range and can travel at up to 15mph.
The 3008 itself will be available with a range of 1.2 and 1.6 turbo petrol engines and 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesels, the most economical of which has an official fuel return of 70.6mpg with emissions of 103g/km.
We have just tried out three versions - a 2.0-litre 180bhp diesel in a range topping 3008 GT, a 1.6 120bhp diesel in top but one GT Line trim and a 1.2-litre three cylinder petrol PureTech engine in a mid-range Allure model.
All performed handsomely and although not overtly sporty the 3008 has a firm stance and handles acceptably no matter what is asked of it.
Real world economy figures were in the region of 47 to the gallon for the PureTech, 39mpg for the 1.6 diesel, which came with a six-speed auto box and 46 for the 2.0-litre diesel - also automatic and the only power option in the GT.
The 2.0-litre diesel is the quickest of the pack with a 0 to 60 time of 8.9 seconds and a top speed of 130mph.
In the mid-range SUV market the new 3008 is very much on the premium side and shows itself as a very special car.
It's the best Peugeot for years and although prices for the full range have still to be announced first impressions are that the 3008 has the potential to become the new pacesetter in the currently booming crossover club.