IT must be the ultimate accolade for any car maker to have a new model win the coveted European Car of the Year title and that speaks volumes for Peugeot's new 3008 SUV.
It's also the 21st prize for the five-seater car and for Peugeot the fifth model to win this prestigious title - the first being the 504 back in 1969.
Appropriately at the time of the announcement of the 3008's latest COTY achievement, I was being collected at Melbourne Airport ‘down under' by an old family friend in his long-serving 504 diesel powered estate which still happily trundles along with the mileage clock now reading well over 190,000 since he bought new in 1977.
The 504 with its robust body structure powered by a 2.1-litre diesel engine was originally made by Renault in Australia under license and sold well there leaving many satisfied customers, including my uncle Brian who refuses to buy a more modern day car "because it does everything I want, carries everything anywhere and has never let me down",
So the new 3008 SUV has a great deal to live up to and it will be interesting to see how many are still around 40 years on like uncle Brian's ageless 504 estate.
Obviously, in terms of styling, interior design and performance plus the latest technology this new 3008 bares no comparison whatsoever with that faithful old 504 and there's a wide choice of petrol and diesel engines and also trim levels - starting with Active, then Allure, GT Line and finally GT.
Prices start at £21,795 for the 1.2-litre PureTech petrol Allure right through to the range-topping GT powered by its 2.0-litre turbocharged 180bhp diesel costing £32,995.
It's that flagship GT driven here and it's really putting Peugeot up amongst the established SUV big boys, such as VW's Tiguan, Kia's Sportage and market leading Nissan Qashqai.
The original 3008 was launched more as a people carrier but with market trends now showing that SUVs are increasingly more popular this latest version is clearly aimed at the crossover scene - although unlike some rivals Peugeot has no four-wheel-drive option, sticking to the electronic Grip Control system with all-season tyres which delivers all the road grip needed when driving in poor conditions.
One of the big plus points of the new 3008 is the outstanding level of interior quality and comfort together with bags of all round space, even for tall passengers sitting in the back.
The seats are exceptionally comfortable and there's good, all round vision thanks to the high window line. Luggage space is generous too from a basic of 520 litres with all rear seats in use rising to a best in class of 1,670 litres with them folded down flat.
For the driver there is the now regular Peugeot iCockpit with its small square-like steering wheel, full digital display screen which is easy to use and in the middle of the console a neat panel of buttons offering various functions operated by simply pushing the required one down.
The top ranking GT model has all the technical gizmos one would expect and also an excellent to use six-speed automatic gearbox plus a sport mode switch which once engaged provieds a more sporty drive helped by a steering wheel mounted ‘paddles' to instigate quicker gear changes.
The GT also comes comprehensively equipped with a panoramic opening glass sunroof, aluminium longitudinal roof bars, Nappa Mistral full leather upholstery and even a driver's seat with multi-point massage function.
The 2.0-litre diesel engine is responsive but remarkably quiet, even when accelerating hard and for such a big bodied car the handling is tidy. The car is really stable in heavy cross winds as we encountered and exhibits controlled body roll when cornering at speed.
As for safety, the 3008 has the full Euro NCAP crash test marks and all versions in the range have rear parking sensors as standard - a pity some rivals don't follow suit as such sensors does make manoeuvring a car so much easier, even for the most experienced driver.