Perfect for my pride and joy
Drivers who say they don't trust French car-makers are missing a trick with Peugeot
Recently I was over near Manchester visiting my daughter Laura, her husband Sam and my three grandchildren. Life is going good for them and Sam was on the cusp of taking a new job which, like his present one, has a good car attached.
He was keen on something more powerful than his present BMW estate, while Laura, as ever, was entirely practical and wanted a car with three individual seats in the back.
After a relaxing pint, Sam softened and said he would consider anything as long as it wasn't French.
I have come across this prejudice before and at times have shared it with a belief that for all their chicness, French cars are put together by Le Mechanic with a Gauloise in one hand and bottle of Ricard in the other.
While things have got a lot better, I am still not totally convinced by Renault - and wouldn't yet buy one - nor unfortunately by Citroen, which for all their style are still let down by a quirkiness which is more sloppy than endearing. A subject which I will return to next week.
But that isn't the case with Peugeot which is rapidly gaining distinction as offering the best built range of family cars, while at the same time being highly innovative.
In fact its compact SUV, the 2008, had an astounding success in the latest Auto Express Driver Power survey, with not a single 2008 owner reporting a fault with their car, the only model in the entire survey with this outstanding record.
A former Irish Compact SUV of the Year winner, the Peugeot 2008 scored a total of 91.04pc across nine categories, to take its deserved place in the Auto Express Top New Cars to own list, while the Peugeot 3008 SUV scooped gold in both the Car of the Year and Mid-Size SUV categories, topping the poles as the "Best Car to Own".
A bit like Hyundai, Peugeot is aiming to be almost touching the premium sector and sees most of its owners going for higher- spec models.
By a strange touch of fate, the day after returning from the UK I went to test a Peugeot which would be ideal for Laura and her family if they can forget its Frenchness.
The 5008 is a big SUV/MPV vehicle which takes up the baton from its smaller siblings to offer seven seats with three of them as separate entities across the middle. Obviously it is a car too big for my everyday needs, but I was really impressed by the quality and finish of the 5008 and its driving abilities. It is surprisingly nimble for a seven-seater and with all seats folded is a massive load carrier, too.
I was driving the 5008 Allure 1.2 PureTech petrol (International Engine of the Year 2015, 2016 and 2017 category winner) 130bhp 6-speed S&S with a price of €33,205 plus delivery. The road tax band is €200. It was massively equipped with a spec list as long as my ape-like arm.
Recently I received a letter from a reader who couldn't believe the range of extras he got as standard on his Peugeot compared to the ridiculous price it cost for them on a number of premium models.
While the 1.2 engine was willing enough with only two of us and a small Jack Russell on board, fully loaded I would expect it to struggle and the consumption to soar. But really how often are cars at total capacity? Around 35-36mpg is the real-life figure testers have been getting.
Two downsides of the 5008 is that rear view is compromised and the panoramic roof option will do no favours for tall passengers. But, on the whole, the car is at the top of its game and is a worthy rival for the Skoda Kodiaq, that is more expensive but with 4WD options. The 5008 is better specced for the money with lots of safety equipment, and has the bonus of a five-year warranty. Both of which should be game-changers.
I would trust my grandchildren to one.