Richard Yarrow takes the Peugeot 3008 and 5008 for test drives.
Car manufacturers are regularly trying to convince buyers they're launching The Next Big Thing, but often it's just hype. One vehicle with a legitimate claim, however, is the Peugeot 3008. It's what the industry calls a crossover because it takes the best bits of other models to create a new one. It combines all the space of a people carrier, the practicality and high seating position of a sports utility vehicle (SUV), and the convenience and driving dynamics of a hatchback. In short, it ticks all the boxes for the modern family motorist.
Since its launch in 2009, half a million 3008s have been sold worldwide, and it was voted Car of the Year in 2010 by What Car? magazine.
What makes the 3008 really great for families is its well thought-out interior. A five-seater, it remains one of the most practical large cars on sale today and owners love its versatility. Take the split tailgate at the rear, which drops down to create a completely flat boot floor that's ridiculously easy to load. The lower section can even bear a 200kg load when open, making it a great place for kids to sit. For extra practicality, it has a three-height boot floor and four securing rings for attaching a luggage net.
What's more, the rear seat splits 60/40 and each side can fold down in a single one-handed movement. It cleverly uses levers that can be reached when standing by the boot, so there's no need to open side doors. Finally, the front passenger seat back folds completely flat, so you can transport loads that stretch from the dashboard to the rear bumper.
Parents love cubby holes and pockets to put stuff in, and the Peugeot excels on that score, too. Numerous storage compartments provide plenty of space, while the central armrest conceals a ventilated bin that can hold a 1.5-litre drink bottle.
For 2014, the 3008 has been restyled, with a new exterior design front and back. The changes bring it into line with Peugeot's newer models, such as the 208 supermini and 2008 compact crossover. That means a smart new radiator grille and LED daytime lights, now a legal requirement on new cars.
There are also new colours to choose from, the option of reversing camera for easy parking and a fighter pilot-style 'head-up' display at the base of the windscreen withfull-colour imagery. That boosts safety by allowing the driver to keep their eyes closer to the road at all times.
The good news is that the 3008 is now better value for money. Even after these mid-life upgrades, some models are up to £650 cheaper than the previous version.
If you want something bigger, the seven-seater Peugeot 5008 is a traditional people-carrier - or multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) - with a more boxy exterior design. It's had a similar facelift to its sibling, and it is just as versatile with a huge flat-load floor when all the seats are folded down.
The fact is, there's precious little to criticise about either of these vehicles and they make excellent family transport. After all, 500,000 families can't be wrong.