Peugeot's small and elegant SUV
Peugeot has been particularly clever with its new 4008. Instead of slavishly sticking to the Mitsubishi donor car's basic body parts and merely sticking a company grille and a few badges on it, as it did with the Outlander-derived 4007, its styling department has disguised the ASX basics and given its new C-segment crossover a look of its own.
Thus, instead of looking like a Mitsubishi with a lion badge on its nose, the 4008 really does seem like a Peugeot original, despite retaining the best parts of the Japanese company's light SUV.
By designing an arrowhead-shaped applique for the rearmost side windows, where they interface with the D-pillars, Peugeot has given the 4008's side-profile a much more individual look, though eagle-eyed autophiles will still pick up the original Mitsubishi's distinctive side-creases.
Up front, Peugeot has worked its new chrome-rimmed floating trapezoid grille neatly into the car's nose. A pair of fashionably angry headlamps connects directly with the grille above a pair of stacked intake vents, the upper halves of which are rimmed with chrome too.
The whole effect is very impressive, with a dark plastic front chin protector linking to a similarly finished rear valance, side skirts and wheel-arch liners.
Ironically, as with its new 208 model, Peugeot is not considering diesels for its New Zealand-bound 4008s, despite there being a choice of two compression-ignition and two petrol units for other markets. The irony is that Mitsubishi is to introduce a diesel version of the 4008's ASX donor car later this year.
The sole powertrain for New Zealand-bound 4008s will be Mitsubishi's familiar 110 kilowatt 2.0-litre injected petrol four, coupled to the company's continuously variable transmission (CVT), which has a seven-step manual set-up that uses steering column-mounted shift paddles.
Most 4008s will be front-drive versions, with only the top-specification model taking all-wheel-drive, using a three- position switchable 2WD-4WD-4WD Lock button on the centre tunnel.
The 4008 is more compact than the established 4007 with 30-centimetre shorter overhangs front and rear. The 4008 loses the 4007's seven-seat facility, but that reflects the fact that the car is designed to be the sort of vehicle that a previous C-segment hatch owner might upsize to, perhaps as the children grow up and the car becomes more of a lifestyle choice than a mere mode of transport.
This is reflected in the price. The entry-point for the 4008 2WD Active is just $37,990 - not much more than Japanese companies ask for 1.8-litre hatchbacks.
For that sticker, you still get 16-inch alloy wheels, seven airbags, ABS, a stability programme, cruise control, automatic air conditioning, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth and a six-speaker USB and iPod compatible single-CD sound system.
A touch posher, with 18-inch alloys, chrome sills and a shaded glass Cielo roof is the Allure, at $39,990, while the Allure 4WD, which asks $44,990, adds all-wheel-drive, leather trim and heated front seating.
The 4008 feels a little different to its donor car on the road. It's firmer in terms of ride and a little nimbler, though it retains the Mitsubishi's remarkable levels of refinement and on-road quietness.
Using the 4WD Lock setting, it's even quite useful in the dirt.
Using a pleasingly arduous off-road track to exercise the car in rough going, I was surprised with how energetic and effective the car felt when taken there. It could be lugged at surprisingly low velocities on very steep terrain, with no confusion from the CVT and plenty of feel from the underpinnings. The car could do with some form of hill descent control, however, because it's always good to be able to come down from a hard climb as decorously as you got up there.
When Peugeot first told me it expected the 4008 to make 300 to 400 sales annually, I wasn't sure. Then they told me the starting price - and it all made sense, despite the absence of a diesel.