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THE new trend of designing crossover vehicles appears to be continuing into the early stages of 2010 with the launch on Monday of the new Peugeot 3008.
Though we have grown used to motoring terms such as SUVs (sports utility vehicles) and MPVs (multi-purpose vehicles), the term crossover is a relative newcomer.
Explained Peugeot's Christopher Chateau: "By crossover we mean we have taken positive aspects of SUVs, MPVs and the sedan for this new model. Aspects range from both interior and exterior functions."
Six models will initially be available - ranging from the 1.6-litre Comfort Pack to the 2.0-litre Executive TDI.
To illustrate the off-road capabilities of the vehicle we took a 100km drive on dirt and gravel roads in both petrol and diesel derivatives.
Though the 3008 looks like it belongs in the suburban jungle, it handled the dirty stuff with ease.
The handling was direct and precise, and when the vehicle sensed you were starting to slide the advanced braking system and traction control kicked in and straightened the car.
While both the diesel and petrol versions are very similar in appearances, the dashboard can differ slightly.
On the more upmarket versions a "heads-up" display system is standard and the switches to activate and position its read-outs are laid out on the central console.
Apart from this, the interior is basically the same.
The test vehicles came with a six-speed gearbox, hill assist, adjustable steering wheel and safety features such as air bags, ABS brakes and distance alert. Cloth trim is standard at the lower end of the range, while leather is standard in the upmarket versions.
An innovative and practical feature is the central console storage space, which is refrigerated, to keep drinks and snacks cool, and is also home to a USB point.
Where the diesel outshines its petrol sibling is in the fuel consumption stakes: 5.6 litres per 100km compared to 7.1 litres per 100km respectively.
On the open road the cars handle superbly. Even at high speeds there is little outside noise, the car feels solid and steady and sideways movement is minimal.
It's definitely a vehicle for different environments. On tarred roads it performs as a sedan. Off-road it tackles the rough stuff with aplomb.