THERE was a time when vehicles capable of carrying seven people looked like stretched-out boxy estate cars with little character or style. But that was then and this is now.
That's because the latest Peugeot 5008 joins the likes of the Skoda Kodiaq, Kia Sorento and, most recently, the Toyota Highlander in offering enough room to accommodate a seven-a-side footie team while still looking very easy on the eye.
The five-door SUV - a beefed up version of the multi-award-winning 3008 - looks dynamic in its styling with muscular lines and curves that wouldn't normally be associated with a practical people carrier.
There are the signature claw-effect rear lights, body coloured roof rails, a rear spoiler, a chrome grille, gloss black front bumper air scoops and 18-inch Detroit Storm Grey alloys to complete the look.
Moving inside, the deceptively spacious cabin is beautifully designed with a clutter-free layout that oozes quality. Blueambient lighting, along with a carbon effect finish to the dashboard and door panels give the car a premium appearance and this is complemented by the digital instrumentation and satin chrome dashboard trim.
With five trim levels to choose from, we selected the near-entry-level Allure model powered by a 1.2-litre, 131hp, three-cylinder, petrol engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
This car, costing £33,035 (increased to £33,610 with specialist paint) could complete the 0-62mph dash in 10.2 seconds and maxed out at 117mph while delivering a combined 38.7-46.0mpg with carbon emissions of 151g/km.
Despite being at the lower end of the trim scale, our test car was feature-rich and included the likes ofa six-speaker sound system, Mirror Screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, navigation, a DAB radio, voice recognition, plus front and rear parking sensors.
The traditional Peugeot i-Cockpit introduces the compact steering wheel with flat top and bottom, so the driver looks over rather than through the wheel at the instrumentation panel.
The 12.3-inch TFT screen can be personalised to taste and there is a 10-inch touchscreen with fast key access to music, climate control, navigation, the car settings and phone functions. It all works really well apart from the fact adjusting the temperature is far too complicated a process. What's wrong with a couple of dials and buttons?
When it comes to performance though, the 5008 doesn't disappoint. Despite the small 1.2-litre engine, the acceleration through the gears is smooth and responsive with paddles for added driver engagement.
There are drive modes called Eco, Normal and Sport that alter the reactions of the car considerably and the 5008 can cruise at 70mph on motorways, zip along country lanes at a click and is also deceptively agile in busier city centres.
Comfort levels are good with bags of space up front and in the trio of individual second row seats. The pair of rear seats can be folded flat to the boot floor or completely removed if not needed, and these are ideal for children on longer journeys or just fine for adults on shorter trips.
The boot can swallow 702 litres of kit with the second row of seats in an upright position - a limit that increases to 1,940 litres when they are folded flat and there are numerous storage options throughout the car such as a really deep cubby beneath the front armrest, practical door bins, seat back pockets, a compact glovebox and cup holders.
Safety systems on the car are comprehensive and the 5008 was awarded a maximum five stars when tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating. Features includeemergency braking assistance, automatic door locking, speed limit recognition and recommendation, Isofix child seat fittings across the three second row seats, dynamic stability control, anti-lock brakes with electronic braking distribution, an electronic anti-skid system, cruise control with speed limiter and a full suite of airbags.
Our Allure car also featured as standard a Safety Plus Pack that introduced a front collision warning system, advanced emergency braking, lane keeping assist with road edge warning, driver attention alert, high beam assist and active blind spot detection.