BUYING an SUV with a sporty drive used to be nigh on impossible.
They were good for carrying things, obviously, and most offered a good high view of the road ahead. And SUVs were excellent at offering traction in bad weather.
But they were never ever fun to drive in the way that a coupe or a hot-hatch might make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.
But that’s all changed. Today’s SUVs are often more akin to sporty coupes and that makes them much more attractive.
Take Peugeot. The 3008 has been around since the year 2008 and has won plaudits for being a decent-looking load-carrying SUV.
But it has now had a facelift which makes it so much better. It’s probably one of the most-improved cars in its class.
Ride and handling is at the heart of the changes, but it’s also a classier and more stylish motor. The test version isn’t cheap at £26,895 but you do get a lot of car for your money.
Every major manufacturer is involved in the fray these days, from Audi to Volvo and that means the standard of the average SUV has been raised.
These were once agricultural vehicles with little road manners and fewer luxuries but not so any more. SUVs, more than any other type of car, have improved massively in recent years.
The 3008 - which costs from £21,110 - looks dashing, better than its slightly anonymous predecessor.
And it is pretty well specified. Standard kit includes power steering, stability control, central locking, alloy wheels, air conditioning, powered windows and mirrors and parking radars and cameras. A terrific satellite navigation system is standard, too.
But for me it’s the engine which really impresses. It’s a 1.2 litre petrol engine which you might imagine would struggle to move such a substantial car.
But it moves it very well - 0 to 60mph in 10.8 seconds and 54.3mpg on a combined run with emissions of 117g/km. Impressive.
It moves very well and stands comparisons with the best-in-class such as SEAT Ateca.
The 3008 offers everything most potential buyers will need: it is practical, smart, well-priced and economical. If you’re after a small SUV or crossover model, put this car on your shortlist.
It’s also distinctive, something earlier 3008s weren’t, and it is almost up to BMW standards in terms of quality.
It is a very crowded market indeed with Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar, Volkswagen Tiguan, Kia Sportage, Audi Q3, the much-improved Ford Kuga, Mazda CX-5 and the new SEAT Ateca all bidding for the same customers.
There are only front-wheel drive versions for now, but you can choose from a 1.2-litre and 1.6-litre turbo petrol, while the diesel range consists of a 1.6-litre and a 2.0-litre with two power versions each.
Four trim levels are offered: Active, Allure, GT Line and GT. Unlike other Peugeots, there is no entry level Access.
Every car comes with a 12.3in digital instrument display and a separate touchscreen infotainment system, dual-zone climate control and rear parking sensors. Allure adds smart 18in alloys, satellite navigation and blind-spot detection among other festures.
A 3008 GTi has also been hinted at by Peugeot insiders.
With this model being a GT Line, it standard kit also includes LED headlamps which self level, twin exhaust, radiator grille trim, GT Line badges, contrast stitching, sports bumper and 18in sports alloy wheels.
Extra-cost options here include heated seats, an opening glass roof (£990), Focal hi-fi system (£590), leather seats with power adjustment (£1,790) and a motorised tailgate (£750).
Peugeot 3008 GT Line PureTech 130
THE CAR FACTS
Engine: A 1,198cc four-cylinder petrol engine
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Top speed: 117mph
0-62mph: 10.5 seconds
Economy: 54.3mpg combined
CO2 emissions: 120g/km
Insurance: Group 13E
Warranty: Three years, 60,000 miles
Summary: Good to drive, even better to look at. This is Peugeot’s best attempt yet at an SUV.
Ford Kuga ST Line: This model is head to head with Peugeot 3008. The Peugeot just nicks it in terms of quality, but it’s close
Kia Sportage: The Kia is cheaper and very good but the Peugeot slightly edges it. Very close, though.
Volkswagen Tiguan: The Tiguan is very well built but expensive and uninspiring to look at. Peugeot is sleeker and sexier.