Peugeot has got the jump on Korean and Japanese alternatives with the cheapest offering in the newest segment, mini SUVs.

Peugeot’s long tradition of naming its models with three digits including ‘0’ in the middle gets a simple tweak for its SUV variants – an extra zero.

Immediately, we know the 2008, 3008, 4007, 4008 and 5008 are the roomier, higher-riding cousins.

So far, so good, but when a Peugeot SUV is not necessarily a 4WD, shares engines with models above and below it and might even be a Mitsubishi under the skin, it takes more study to get to grips with the features of a range that is unusually big for a brand that in total sells only around 5000 vehicles a year in Australia.

It certainly covers all bases in the popular price brackets and with a European-brand alternative at that. And now Peugeot has got the jump on Korean and Japanese alternatives with the cheapest offering in the newest segment, mini SUVs.

The just-released 2008 has an opening ticket of just $21,990 (plus on-roads), undercutting by $1500 the previous price leader, Holden’s Trax. They’re apples and oranges, of course, but the 2008’s catalog of three engines and three trim levels does offer excellent choice.

Unlike the Mitsubishi-sourced 4007 and 4008, the 2008 is all Peugeot, based on the maker’s smallest hatchback, the 208, although slightly larger.

The interior styling is very similar, but the seating and cargo space is bigger in keeping with the SUV style. The rear seat backs and cushions have a one-touch folding mechanism and there are cargo rails in the boot floor, tie-down hooks, side pockets, a cargo net and extra under-floor space.

A practical interior is complemented by a good equipment list for a car of this size and price. This includes a reversing camera and large touch screen on all models.

There are two 1.6 litre engines, a petrol and a diesel, but the unconventional standout is a 1.2 litre, three-cylinder unit, again from the 208.

It’s small but sophisticated and designed to meet increasingly stringent anti-emission standards in Europe. Power and torque outputs are 60 kiloWatts and 118 Newtonmetres respectively – not much these days, but from experience of the 208 it punches above its weight. Matched to a five-speed manual gear, the 1.2’s best attribute is its petrol consumption, just 4.9 litres per 100 kms.