PEUGEOT'S French bosses make no secret of the fact that they are trying to move their brand up market and now offer more fashionable and trendy cars with a bit more all round quality interiors and also having the latest in-car technology on board.
A fine example of this new-found philosophy is the new 3008 Sports Utility Vehicle which will arrive here in January oozing with new styling trends and a classy interior and replacing the rather dull if functional 3008 Crossover.
SUVs are all the vogue across Europe at present with rising sales and Peugeot is confident that by dropping the old Crossover model and replacing it with this refreshing looking 3008 they will win a share of the action - and they could well be right.
This new 3008 looks really smart with its sharper front end that features hawkish lights console and high body waist lines along the side while at the rear there's a distinct touch of the Range Rover Evoque with its kind of overhanging rear floating roof.
It's refreshingly different too from some of its current rivals in this sector, such as the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar, while inside it's a totally new ball game with quality materials used plus having a by far classier looking dashboard layout and with all mod cons incorporating the latest in-car technology.
The smart, curved dashboard looks quality too while for the driver has what is becoming a true trademark of today's Peugeot models with their i-Cockpit concept that includes a more ‘square' shaped steering with flatter surfaces at the top and bottom, plenty of leather and chrome trim and gloss black designs making it quite distinctive.
There's an eight-inch touch screen in the middle of the dashboard and underneath it a series of seven piano (or electric organ style) keys that Peugeot calls ‘toggle switches' which when different ones are pressed give easy access several functions, like hazard warning lights, sat nav, air conditioning, vehicle settings plus phone communications and mobile units.
This is linked into again an easy-to-read 12.3-inch high resolution instrument panel showing immediately with simple graphic all the information the driver needs making life so much easier out on the road.
This new 3008 has the usual current Peugeot format of trim levels, starting with Active, then Allure, GT Line and GT and there's a strong possibility that a sportier GTi will arrive later next year with Peugeot UK expecting the Allure will be the big seller.
In terms of standard equipment this newcomer impressed because even with the entry-level Active it comes with automatic engine braking, 17-inch alloy wheels, dual climate control, automatic headlights/wipers, rear parking sensors and more.
Although Peugeot has not yet revealed the prices for the complete model range they have confirmed that it will start with the Active 1.2-litre 131bhp PureTech three-cylinder petrol engine at £21,795 and as a rough guide it will probably cost around another £500 for each additional trim level and about £1,000 more for the smaller 1.6-litre diesel engine and £2,000 more for the two-litre diesel over the petrol equivalents.
Talking of engines there are a pair of Peugeot's well established Pure Tech 131bhp petrol engines, one with a six-speed manual gearbox and the other with an automatic gearbox, and 1.6-litre 165bhp engine only with the automatic box.
There's a wide choice of diesel engines with four different outputs - 100bhp and 120bhp from a 1.6-litre and 148bhp and 178bhp from a two-litre engine - and again either the six-speed manual or automatics boxes depending on which versions with Peugeot UK expecting 70 per cent of 3008 buyers to opt for 120bhp version.
These are all well proven units used in other current Peugeots and the two to opt for in my book are the 130bhp Pure Tech petrol (currently the industry's International Engine of the Year) or the two-litre diesel with 148bhp, the former being a real dinky, efficient power train while the more powerful diesel has obvious greater pulling power and can return around 64.2mpg overall.
Brief drives with both petrol and diesel engines in the 3008 and it leaves the impression of offering a refined, comfortable ride even over a series of pot-holed roads where bumps were easily soaked up while on twisty country lanes there was a pleasant lack of body roll.
Peugeot's backroom team have clearly done their homework in this department because both versions are far more refined and quiet out on the road than the previous model and of the two gearboxes my preference would be the automatic which has a seamless up and down gear movement that most drivers won't know when gear changes are being made on a journey.
The actual automatic gearlever itself is quite natty - it's sculpted shape and again much simpler and easy to use than the old style lever.
With a five-star NCAP safety ticket already under its belt this new 3008 has plenty of on-board safety features so it's safe as houses as we say out on the road and would-be buyers need to have Peugeot's unique Hill Assist Descent Control even as an option.
This is a really excellent system for going down any steep hill in mud, snow or whatever tricky conditions underneath and it works with wheel brakes independently applied on each wheel. All the driver has to do is to switch the gearlever into neutral and descent the hill, not touching the brakes at all simply letting the system to the job of getting the car slowly down to level ground.
Peugeot claims it's currently the only system of its kind offered on a car and having tried it twice on the 3008 it really does work.
This is even more worth its expense when Peugeot confirmed that there won't be a 4x4 version of this car - technically it can be done but the company say so few buyers would opt for this in the sector that they have no intention of spending money to develop and install it on the car.
All in all the new 3008 is vastly improved over its predecessor with much better all round quality inside and a far more comfortable and relaxing ride too, whether it's a petrol or diesel engine under the bonnet.