Peugeot 5008

French rediscover the ability to build a fine breeder bus

NATHAN PONCHARD

PLUS & MINUS

Striking interior style; classy trim; handling; versatility; value; warranty

Firm ride; coarse-surface tyre noise; tractable but ageing engines

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

AGAINST all expectations, the legendary broodhauling ability of Peugeot’s famous ‘Familiale’ station wagons of the past has somehow resurfaced in this new-generation people carrier, the 5008. Not too big on the outside, yet almost Tardis-like on the inside, it’s the seven-seat SUV for those who don’t want a bulky, distasteful 4WD.

There’s something delightfully left-field about the Peugeot 5008. It features the odd stylistic nod to the SUV set it’s trying to attract – cue the ‘bash-plate’ garnish on its front bumper and statuesque 1646mm height – yet the 5008 is a sleeker, more tautly drawn sevenseater than every rival bar its Citroen Grand C4 Picasso relative.

Ingeniously, front-bumper and grille designs aside, the 5008 shares its entire structure from the B-pillar forward with the smaller 3008 – driver-focused, concept-car-like dash included. But what the 5008’s unique booty achieves is wonderfully space-efficient accommodation, featuring three individual buckets in the centre row, each on fore-aft sliders, and a pair of rear seats that weigh just 11kg each and can be effortlessly removed by anyone who isn’t Victoria Beckham. And even with the centre row maxed rearward, there’s 780 litres of boot space below the luggage cover.

The 5008’s sense of adventure on narrow, hilly dirt roads comes as quite a surprise, thanks to a respectable 230mm of ground clearance. And if that’s your cuppa, there’s an optional ‘grip control’ system with snow, mud, sand and ‘ESP off’ modes, as well as hill-descent control, though I doubt the front-drive 5008 would go far on Stockton beach.

What it does relish is a flogging on twisty roads. Even the 1575kg 2.0-litre turbo-diesel – 100 kegs heavier than the 1.6-litre turbo-petrol – feels chuckable in a way you’d almost never describe a seven-seat SUV, enhanced by the flagship GT’s superb Continental 235/50R19 tyres. You don’t lose much in ride quality on 19s either, though no 5008 feels plush. Even the base Allure on 225/55R18 Michelins rides firmly, with persistent tyre noise on coarse surfaces pervading its otherwiseadmirable sense of calm.

The benefit of this suspension discipline is a lovely fluency to the 5008’s handling and body control. Its longer wheelbase imbues it with a more relaxed demeanour than the 3008, yet there’s real poise in the way the sevenseater’s (torsion beam) rear end wants to be part of the action. You can’t discount the size-reducing benefits of Peugeot’s ‘i-Cockpit’ driving position either, blending a superb steering wheel with crisp response and a tight 11.2m turning circle. It’s also nice to have a Sport mode that adds intelligent weight to the steering, rather than gluggy Play-Doh.

Arguably the sweetest piece of the 5008 experience is its cabin ambience (see right), while the only notable area of weakness is both engines, each dating back well over a decade. Yet for all their lack of on-paper sizzle, the turbo-petrol and turbo-diesel fours are torquey, driveable units that effortlessly complement the 5008’s fluid dynamics. Dare I say it, I quite like the diesel’s amplified ‘Sport’ sound pumping through the GT’s gutsy stereo.

It’s quite difficult to nominate any genuine flaws in the 5008. Even when fully optioned, a $58,740 GT seems pretty decent value. And there’s a characterful, long-legged flavour to the 5008 that feels unashamedly French, and proudly Peugeot.

NATHAN PONCHARD

01 CHAIR-O-PLANE

Despite a lack of cushion length, centre row feels plusher than a Grand Picasso’s (riding on the same 2840mm wheelbase), as well as easier to operate, while the rear pair are tolerable for adults, and ample for pre-teens.

02 SCREEN TEST

Peugeot’s vastly improved 8.0-inch centre touchscreen now works in combination with a bunch of cool piano-key finger controls, and we love the triggergrip transmission lever, whose futuristic style isn’t at the expense of function.

03 TRIM COUTURE

Allure’s houndstooth trim with leatherette detailing is poshluggage worthy, while microfibre/leatherette and optional Nappa leather in GT-Line and GT is even classier, garnished by ‘mouse fur’ inserts spanning the dash and door tops.

Up and away

Apparently Aussies like their Peugeots loaded, hence why entry-level 5008 Access and second-rung Active variants remain abroad, giving Aussies the well-equipped $42,990 Allure, $46,990 GT-Line and $52,990 GT diesel.

All 5008 models get AEB, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise, front and rear parking sensors with a 360-degree camera, dualzone climate with rear air vents, sat-nav, DAB radio, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and inductive phone charging, along with useful 20,000km service intervals and a five-year warranty.

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