Switch to SUV shape gives Peugeot 5008 the upper hand

French carmaker bins monobox shape of previous 5008 in favour of chunkier SUV

As Ireland continues to go 'SUV crazy', could Peugeot take on the likes of the Nissan Qashqai and Volkswagen Tiguan with the 5008? We take it for a test drive to find out. Video: Neil Briscoe

Make: Peugeot

Model: 5008

Year: 2017

Fuel: Petrol

Date Reviewed: February 23, 2017

Wed, Mar 1, 2017, 12:29

   

There is a rational, sensible part of my brain that simply wants no part of this. A left-hemisphere thinking part of my brain that knows a monobox people carrier (MPV) is the most efficient vehicular body shape and, therefore, that’s what family car buyers should have at the tops of their shopping lists.

Ever since Renault decided to make the original 1980s Espace look like the front end of a TGV, that has been the shape of larger family motoring. Which is kind of its downfall, if you think about it . . .

A tall, one-box MPV has long been considered the motoring equivalent of beige slacks and a sensible haircut. No matter how much the styling department may try (and with the new Renault Scenic, they’ve been putting serious efforts in) it’s all but impossible to make that shape truly appealing. The knowledge that an MPV is a car you buy when you need it, not when you desire it, just kills the passion. An SUV, though? Well that’s another story.

Perhaps it should have come as no surprise that Peugeot decided to bin the monobox shape of the previous 5008 in favour of this taller, chunkier SUV model. Still, with 400,000 sales of the old one, you’d have imagined they were on to a good thing.

Even so, no matter how hard one tries to be aloof and objective about this, there’s no doubt that the new 5008 is a more enticing-looking prospect than its progenitor. Basically, it’s an elongated (by 190mm), chunkier version of the new 3008 crossover, with more space inside and an extra row of folding seats in the boot.

Practicality

Somewhat surprisingly, there’s little or no decrease in absolute practicality. In fact, elbow room and rear headroom have actually increased slightly compared with the old 5008, with no major increase in exterior dimensions. Space is genuinely impressive in the back of the new model, with stretching room in the middle row for taller passengers.

Shuffle those middle seats about a bit (they slide and recline, as well as folding flat) and there’s just enough space in the third row for a tall person to crowbar themselves in but it’s too tight for anything more than a short journey.

The boot is massive, though. Peugeot claims 952 litres, loaded to the window line, when the third row seats are folded away, and you can make that even bigger by simply removing those third row seats altogether. They weigh just 11kg each and can be pretty easily lifted in and out, although that does preclude the fitting of ISOFIX child car seats.

Peugeot makes up for that by having ISOFIX points for all three seats in the middle row, and an option for a fourth one in the front passenger seat. All of which puts a big, black tick in the box marked practicality.

How you feel about the 5008’s interior will depend much on how big you like your steering wheel to be. Peugeot’s new “i-Cockpit” is standard on all 5008 models, and the new all-digital instruments look great, and are properly clever in the way you can shuffle between dials, information and sat-nav maps.

The central eight-inch touchscreen is less impressive, but the lovely, tactile row of toggle switches underneath makes it easier to find your way through the various menus.

I do wish that Peugeot would just bring back simple, physical controls for the heating and air conditioning, but I guess you can’t have everything. The tiny, hexagonal steering wheel though? Some will hate it, but I’ve always liked it and at least Peugeot is trying to do something different.

The 5008’s cabin quality is a high point, although we’re duty bound to point out that the central air vents in one of the cars we tested were broken. Even so, the interior lends truth to Peugeot’s claims of a steady rise in the JD Power quality rankings (the brand finished second behind only Mitsubishi in the German JD Power customer satisfaction ratings last year) and all of the plastics, the buttons, the intriguing little patches of fabric on the dashboard, and the seats look and feel little short of terrific. We’re not a million miles away from Peugeot reaching Audi cabin quality levels here, even if it’s not quite there yet.

Exceptionally refined

Certainly it’s exceptionally refined. Even taking into account that Portuguese tarmac is generally of a higher quality than the Irish stuff, the 5008’s cabin is truly hushed at a motorway cruise, and both the petrol- and diesel-engine options are very, very quiet – better even in most cases than their premium German opposition. Given the space and the quietness, a long journey in a 5008 might actually prove a pleasure rather than a chore.

At least it will if you choose the right wheels. Don’t, whatever you do, go for optional 19-inch alloys as they just make the ride quality far too harsh. The 18-inch wheels are barely any less stylish and their effect on comfort is quite profound.

As for the rest of the driving experience, while the steering firms up a bit in Sport mode, it’s never really anything other than light and rather unconcerned with what’s actually happening under the contact patch. The 5008 rolls in corners, but in a controlled and steady fashion, and while it understeers initially, it can be coaxed into quite secure, fast cornering when you put the effort in. Better to just sit back and cruise, though – that’s its true métier.

Diesel?

Would you be mad to go for petrol over diesel? No, you’d probably be getting the better of the engine range. The 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo might sound like it’s too weedy to pull a car this big, but with the 5008 being about 95kg lighter than before, it’s pretty good, pulling with conviction (if ultimately not all that much speed) and sounding good when it does so.

The official emissions level dips as low as 115g/km, and with the automatic gearbox fitted to our test car, its still only at 120g/km. The 2.0-litre 150bhp diesel (there is a more basic 1.6 diesel in 100hp and 120hp forms, but neither was available for us to test) has more easily accessed power and a creamy, silent smoothness but there’s no great advantage in emissions terms, and the petrol was damn near as economical overall on our hilly test route.

You see, from this point, the slow death of the traditional MPV. Why would you buy a nerdy monobox when, for similar cash, you can have all the same space and utility with a sexier body. Why have Mrs Doyle when you can have Laura Whitmore? For that matter, why have Sheldon Cooper when you can have MacGyver?

The 5008 is likely to be well priced too. Gowan Distributors, Peugeot’s Irish agent, is still negotiating prices with Paris, but they’re likely to closely shadow those of the Skoda Kodiaq, with seven seats and the i-Cockpit digital layout as standard. Rationality be damned – the new family car is here.

The lowdown: Peugeot 5008 1.2 PureTech 130hp Automatic

Price: Range starts at €29,000 (approx).

Power: 130hp.

Torque: 230Nm.

0-100km/h: 10.4sec.

Top speed: 188km/h.

Claimed economy: 54mpg (5.2-l/100km).

CO2 emissions: 120g/km.

Motor tax: €200 per annum.

Verdict: So much more desirable than the old one – the new 5008 is big, practical and has very high levels of quality.