ONCE upon a time, this car would have been an estate - but no one buys small station wagona these days. So the old 207 SW estate car has been replaced by the 2008.

Choosing a pseudo SUV makes a lot of sense if you’re thinking of buying a small car.

Their chunky looks help designers make the most of the interior, a squared off rump is the best shape for a half decent boot and the upright driving position helps disguise their lack of bulk and calms drivers’ nerves on motorways. The latter also lends that irritating sense of entitlement that seems to come as standard with 4x4 drivers.

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The 2008 is Peugeot's entrant in the compact crossover class.

It wasn't first to market, so sensibly the French sat back and took their time, watching as the nascent class developed before launching their own contender.

ON THE ROAD: Small three cylinder petrol engines have replaced diesels as the most popular engine choice among private buyers.

The 1199cc three cylinder petrol engine in the 2008 produces 110 BHP and maximum torque of 205 Nm - enough to give the 2008 a fighting chance of keeping up with fast flowing motorway traffic. It sounds good too, especially if you hold on to the gears when it produces a racy induction snarl that makes you grin.

The automatic gearbox fitted to the test car took the edge off the engine’s acceleration, but came into its own around town by taking the hard work out of gear shuffling in stop-start traffic.

Sharp steering and a well tied down chassis help the 2008 feel more like a well-fettled hatchback than a pumped up shopping trolley on stilts.

The 2008 is not a four-wheel-drive vehicle. However, Peugeot's Grip Control system attempts to make up for your disappointment by optimising traction in low grip conditions. It adapts to the terrain by acting on the front wheels, using the vehicle's existing traction control systems.

Interestingly, it doesn't always seek to quell a spinning wheel. For instance in mud mode it allows the wheel with the least traction to spin in the hope it will clear the mud from the treads and restore grip.

At the same time, the wheel with the most grip is managed to transmit as much torque as possible.

Let’s face it, you’ll probably never need four-wheel drive, so why go to all the added expense, and complication, of buying a pukka 4x4 when Grip Control can get you out of most sticky situations just as well?

ON THE INSIDE: There's lots of good things going on inside because the 2008 shares its cabin architecture with the pleasing 208 hatchback.

Peugeot has made an effort to produce an interior that's a cut above the class norm. All the major touch points (the steering wheel, the funny-shaped handbrake and the gear selector) use quality materials and there's a pleasing consistency among the instrumentation.

You’ll either love the 2008’s ‘head up’ instruments and the dinky steering wheel or hate it. I love it, particularly the way the smaller wheel makes the car ultra responsive to inputs.

The laser cut LED lighting in the headlining made my kids ‘ooo’ and ‘ahh’ when it got dark. It's essentially useless, but a fun feature nevertheless - a bit living inside Liberace’s grand piano - and the only other car with something similar is a Rolls-Royce.

WHAT DO YOU GET: The Allure model fitted with the 1.2 Puretech engine costs £20,030.

For that you get 17 inch alloy wheels, front and rear scuff plates, wheel arch extensions, passenger side seat height adjustment, premium trim, automatic dual zone air-conditioning, cornering assist fog lights, rear parking radar, automatic headlights, electric windows all round and tinted rear and rear side windows.

The test car also came with heated front seats, which cost £150 extra, and active city braking (£250).

However, if your phone does not have a satellite navigation app, or play nicely with Peugeot's in-car entertainment system, you’re out of luck.

Only the GT Line trim level has a built-in sat nav solution, the Allure requires a connected app.

HOW PRACTICAL IS IT?

It may use the 208’s underpinnings but the 2008 is both longer and higher than its cousin. In fact, it’s not far short of the Citroen C4 Cactus, a car that’s competing in the next class up, and you don’t have to put up with big rubber shower mats glued to the doors.

There’s plenty of room in the rear and generous headroom means even the tallest passengers won’t find their hair brushing the roof.

It’s a shame the fuses take up so much of the glove box; the small space that remains is way too small for even a pair of thermal gloves, let alone the driver’s manual which ends up relegated to the door bin.

The rear seatbacks split 60:40. There’s 410 litres of space behind them which can be increased to 1,400 litres when they are folded flat.

RUNNING COSTS: The 1.2 returned 43 mpg in 300 miles of mixed driving, predominantly in town and A-roads, and achieved more than 50 mpg on the motorway. That’s not too far from the official average of 58.9 mpg or 64.2 mpg if you shift the gears yourself.

VERDICT: The 2008 isn’t flashy like the Juke, but I like that. The Nissan’s looks are sure to date, whereas the understated Peugeot should age gracefully. The 1.2 petrol engine is man enough to row the 2008 along the motorway at a brisk lick and the Grip Control feature should help keep things moving in bad weather.

Model tested: Peugeot 2008 1.2 Allure

Price: £20,030