Niche is the new mainstream, particularly when considering models like the Peugeot 2008. Take a look through the top 10 best-selling cars in the UK and that much is obvious.

Nissan ditched the Primera – a conventional large family car – more than half a decade ago, yet now its replacement, the supposedly niche Qashqai crossover, sits proudly on Britain’s best-sellers list. Its smaller Juke sister model has done the same since the start of this year, and it’s a theme replicated throughout Europe.

Road test editor
The Peugeot is designed as a practical and compact crossover

Not surprising, then, that there has been an upsurge in family-friendly, quasi-SUV crossover models, of which the 2008 is Peugeot’s latest and smallest – a tall, 208 supermini-based, four-metre-long entrant into an increasingly crowded market.

In common with most manufacturers until a couple of years ago (excepting the likes of the Lada Niva and Fiat Panda 4x4), Peugeot doesn't exactly have a long history of small SUVs.

Until the recent expansion of its range, the closest the French manufacturer came to all-road cars were pick-up versions of the 404 and grey-bearded 504s, which are still common in Africa. The '2' prefix, which now denotes a compact Peugeot, stretches back 84 years to the 201 of 1929. 

The compact crossover market, however, lacks an obvious superstar model. There’s the aforementioned Juke, the Vauxhall Mokka, Skoda’s likeable Yeti and the Dacia Duster, whose parsimony has won it many admirers, us included. 

But still there’s this nagging doubt that the small, tall car market is calling out for an obvious class leader. Question is, can Peugeot's new entrant provide it? We intend to find out.