A FAMILY AFFAIR (Peugeot 3008 2.0 HDi 150 Exclusive)

IT WAS NOT that long ago that a 'family' car was, quite simply, a car that you could fit your family in. Peugeot certainly didn’t struggle in this arena, with models like its 505 estate proving a sure-fire solution for over-productive loins across Europe.

These days, it takes more than an extra pair of seats to appeal to demanding family car buyers. With the blurring of lines between traditional segments leaving drivers with no shortage of choice, a family car needs to do more than physically envelop a family, it needs to emotionally envelop them as well.

Crossover models like Peugeot’s 3008 aim to be all things to all men, offering something to engage every member of the family. Parents, kids, even the dog need to feel catered for if it’s going to be a success.

Dogs are reasonably easy to please. With the adjustable three-tier boot floor at its lowest setting the boot space is no less accommodating than in the 308 SW estate model. The 3008’s taller body means there’s a slightly higher jump to be made in to the rear, but a clever split rear tailgate offers an extended platform and pooch can be prevented from prematurely disembarking by opening the top portion only. Once in, there’s enough room for Benji to chase the rear wiper ad nauseam.

Yet in the family sphere of influence, the dog’s opinion is generally out-weighed by that of the parents. With this in mind, the 3008 has been designed to straddle the varying requirements of life as an adult. Versatility is key – the 3008 operates admirably on the motorway, in town and in the country.

True to its crossover branding, the 3008 fits its spacious, chunky body and SUV derived features atop a reasonably compact chassis. Little overhang and a large glass house makes it simple enough to manoeuvre around town, never feeling as cumbersome as the styling suggests it might.

On the motorway the ride quality of the 2.0-litre diesel equipped model is the equal of larger models in the French manufacturer’s range. Combined with the slightly elevated driving position the 3008 proves adept at cruising. In 150bhp form the 2.0-litre diesel unit uses a six-speed manual gearbox with sensibly spaced ratios that keep the revs down but still leave potential for some useful in-gear acceleration. Although less than exhilarating, it’s a worthy choice in a line-up full of worthy choices. Emissions and fuel economy figures are kept surprisingly low across the range.

More surprising is the way the 3008 rides and handles away from the motorway. The SUV stylings are, for the most part, exactly that, but the increased height of the model ought to make it less stable on the road than a 308 hatchback.

However, an additional lateral damper has been employed in the higher-powered models to prevent unwanted body roll. The ‘Dynamic Roll Control’ system makes the 3008 as surefooted as a hatchback through the corners.

More technology is available in the shape of the ‘Grip Control’ system that means the two-wheel drive 3008 can handle soft-roader tasks such as towing and mildly inhospitable terrain.

The lack of a four-wheel drive system means no bulging transmission tunnel in the rear; earning a favourable vote from rear occupants and children. Head and legroom are good, with masses of storage availability making the 3008 interior particularly child-friendly. In the range-topping Exclusive model, the full length glass roof will prove another big draw for the youth vote. So will the comfortable seats and slightly raised seating position, offering a more commanding view out of the side windows than a hatchback or estate model.

Although traditional in its basic interior layout, the 3008 features enough quirks give it some character of its own. The heads-up display, beaming speed information in to the driver’s line-of sight is an obvious example. A distinctive, metal embossed design for the switchgear in the upper centre console also adds an upmarket element.

One of the neatest models to come out of the ‘crossover’ revolution yet, Peugeot’s 3008 manages to fuse an enormous number of ingredients in just the right measures.

A hatchback, estate, MPV and compact SUV combined it’s bursting with family appeal.

FACTS AT A GLANCE Model: Peugeot 3008 2.0 HDi 150 Exclusive, £20,895 on the road.

Engine: 2.0-litre diesel unit developing 150bhp and 250lb/ft of torque.

Transmission: 6-speed manual transmission, driving the front wheels.

Performance: Maximum speed 121mph, 0-62mph 9.7 seconds.

CO2 emissions: 146g/km.

Economy: 50.4mpg.