IT is one of the few positive trends anywhere in motoring at the moment.
All over Europe, and yes, even Ireland, more and more people are buying compact motors that sit high, look strong and smart, and have good room. They're called all sorts, crossovers being the most common.
Peugeot's new 2008 is one of them. Let's call it a compact crossover. It is due here in late July and they expect to shake up the market a bit because they are going to have a 1.2-litre petrol and a 1.4-litre diesel, as well as the 1.6-diesel (excellent on test) we all expected. Prices should start in the region of €18,000 for the petrol and €19,000 for the diesel.
They (car experts) reckon motors like this (rivals include Nissan Juke, Opel Mokka, Renault Captur, Skoda Yeti, and Ford's EcoBoost) will account for 10pc of all sales in next to no time across Europe such is the level of demand.
With a name like 2008, it is hardly surprising this shares a good deal with the lively 208 hatchback (lightweight construction and wheelbase).
However, this has significantly different outer panels and longer body overhangs on its 2.54-metre wheelbase. The idea is you get hatchback handling and SUV looks and strength. It looks well from the front.
All in all it is 4.16 metres long; wider, taller and has more ground clearance than the 208. The extra length and slim rear seats mean additional space at the back (where a 12v socket comes in handy) and boot room.
A special folding mechanism means you can drop the back seats and give yourself a flat-load floor. In doing so, your space goes from 360 litres to 1,194 litres. The floor has five recessed rails stretching from the sill to the back of the front seats and six chrome hooks provide anchorage.
We found the front seats firm and strong but a bit short to support your thighs. The rear seats are not tiered higher, leaving good room for tall passengers.
Peugeot raised eyebrows with its small steering wheel in the 208 supermini, which makes it easier to see the speedo etc. In this case, the higher seating position made it an even better decision. I have had my doubts but this completely dispelled them. It's great. I could see everything.
The cabin is nicely roomy; there is an aircraft-style handbrake, the dash, console and central screen display all work well and there are a few reasonably sized cubbyholes. A modern-style cabin that eschews too many frivolous frills.
The rear seats will take three (two adults, one child I'd say) with decent enough headroom.
The huge windscreen lets wonderful light into the front of the cabin but the substantial rear-corner pillars blot vision.
We noticed the steering and handling a bit uneasy around the 110kmh mark on some roads – not on others. Strange.
Overall, it wasn't quite as dynamic as Peugeots can be, but, frankly, I don't think that matters too much in this instance – it will do far more school runs than performance drives.
Peugeot 2008 Lineup
• 1.2-litre petrol (114g/km, road tax €200, 82bhp)
• 1.4-litre Hdi diesel (104g/km, €190 road tax, 68bhp)
• 1.6-litre HDi (98g/km, €180 road tax, 92bhp)
• 1.6eHDi Stop Start (106g/km, €190 road tax, 115bhp)
Later this year: A 1.2-litre e-THP (99g/km)