The Peugeot 2008 is a small SUV for the slightly style-conscious. Based on the 208 hatchback, this was already one of the best-looking SUVs, with the French manufacturer’s eye for styling setting it apart from Korean and Japanese rivals.

Having received its mid-life facelift this year, it’s a much more handsome prospect now. A handful of minor technological tweaks bring it up to speed with the latest competitors, but no major surgery has taken place — the ‘new’ 2008 is mechanically very similar to the way it was before.

The 2008 has had a nose job — the grille now has vertical black bars, reminiscent of more premium manufacturers’ front ends. Minor adjustments all around the car certainly add up to give it a sportier, more upmarket edge, though it’s important to remember that this is a bulky small SUV and not a stylish city car.

Inside, the cabin remains relatively unchanged apart from some minor adjustments. Anyone who struggled to read the speedo over the steering wheel in the previous generation will have just as much trouble in the new model, and the seating position is awkward for certain sizes of driver.

The cabin space is reasonable. The awkward front seats force some taller drivers to move the chair position further back than they would in rivals’, which means that the rear passengers’ legroom suffers. The boot is broadly in line with competitors’ and the clever split-folding rear seats allow it to expand to meaningful proportions. That said, some hatchbacks and most estate cars offer more load-lugging capacity — a consideration for family buyers, even if the extra space is only needed occasionally.

The 2008’s buffet of powertrains focuses on efficiency rather than driving pleasure. Frugal motoring is possible throughout the range, though the smallest and least powerful engines can become a chore to drive. The 129bhp 1.2-litre three-pot coupled to a five-speed manual is one of the best choices in terms of the best blend of performance, emissions and fuel efficiency.

Body roll has been reasonably well contained in this upright compact SUV. However, wind and road noise is slightly more pronounced than you’d expect. This is no driver’s car.

The Dh73,000 starting price of the 2008 in European markets is positively bargainous. However, when you start to add options and pick a trim level you want to live with, the 2008’s price goes up significantly. At this point, it has some pretty convincing opponents. The Hyundai Tuscon, Kia Sportage and Suzuki Vitara all make reliable, well-regarded alternatives — though they lack the 2008’s French flair.

This car makes a great compromise for a lot of buyers. Low starting prices for entry-level models, a range of efficient engines and a pleasing design will outweigh the mediocre driving dynamics for many people. What the 2008 lacks in excitement it makes up for in efficiency — 4.8 litres per 100km, a figure that should challenge most SUV-segment competitors.