IN 2015 designers at Peugeot were challenged to come up with something bold and something different.
And even though it's been seven years in the making they have certainly risen to the task with the creation of the company's stunning new 408 model which has just gone on sale in the UK.
It is, in the words of the company's new managing director Adam Wood, a car which offers "something unexpected from every angle".
The dramatic new five-seater is an innovative cross between a sleek fastback and a spacious SUV and is expected to be a conquest model for the French car maker, pulling in customers from other brands.
With its eye-catching sloping roof, deep macho grille with the new Peugeot shield, bold cuts and curves in the metal and distinctive daylight running lights I found the 408 certainly turned heads.
Initially it's only available with a choice of two plug-in hybrids - a 225bhp and a 180 bhp - or a 130bhp, three cylinder, 1.2-litre petrol engine, all with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Fully electric models, however, will follow soon.
Emissions range from 26g/km for the plug-in hybrid models to 136g/km for the 1.2 petrol.
There are three spec levels, Allure, Allure Premium and the range-topping GT model with prices ranging from £39,900 to £42,225.
Interestingly while the grille on all models is cleverly made up of 130 tiny pieces which are body-coloured and run horizontally on Allure and Allure Premium models they are chrome plated and run vertically on the GT to set it apart.
In the centre of all the grilles is the lion's head shield, which conceals the radar for the onboard safety systems and is made of indium, the only metal which allows radar waves to pass through it.
Sit inside the 408 and you are faced with Peugeot's latest i-Cockpit, similar to that in the 308, which features a 10-inch digital instrument panel as well as a 10-inch touchscreen.
The GT model uses 3D technology which allows things like satellite navigation instructions to stand proud of the other details on the screen which makes them much easier to view.
I found the cabin spacious and business-like yet at the same time trendy, with the trim again reflecting the interior of the new 308. But while leg room in the 308 is adequate in the 408 it's positively lounge-like.
A minimalist approach means there are few dashboard switches as most operations are carried out on the touchscreen, but responsive voice control helps to lessen the time your eyes are off the road.
The high-tech onboard technology on the 408 means the car can be set up to recognise individual drivers so as you take your seat your personal preferences are activated, changing everything from radio stations, to display settings and even ambient lighting colours. It's all geared to the Bluetooth connection on your smartphone.
As in the 308 the compact gear selector in the centre console falls easily to hand as does the button which give you access to a choice of three driving modes. All the cars also come with paddles behind the steering wheel for manual gear changing.
And as it's a family car there's generous luggage space, with 536 litres in the petrol models - rising to 1,583 litres with the rear seatback lowered - and 471 litres in the hybrid version, rising to 1,545.
GT models get a powered hands-free operated tailgate as well as the bonus of a heated steering wheel, powered seats and full Matrix headlights as opposed to eco LEDs lights on Allure and Allure Plus models.
Get behind the wheel and the elevated height of the 408 means excellent all round vision and whether you go for plug-in hybrid or pure petrol the ride and comfort are equally impressive.
The higher-powered hybrid with its 1.6-litre petrol engine and electric motor is smoother and more refined while at the same time delivering a higher top speed and quicker 0-62 mph acceleration time of 145 miles per hour and 7.8 seconds respectively.
The lively 1.2-litre petrol engine on the other hand punches above its weight with a top speed of 130 mph and a 0-62 miles per hour time of 10.4 seconds and has a nice sporty sound from the three-pot engine.
If you are a business user the hybrid makes more sense because of the saving on benefit-in-kind tax, but if not I think I personally would opt for the less expensive petrol model.
Either way the new 408 looks set for a bright future, and with electric models coming on stream soon things can only get better.