In recent years one of the few segments of the car market that has remained relatively buoyant is the SUV sector. So much so, that a whole “crossover” sub group has emerged starting with family hatchbacks trying on SUV clothes – a trend that was kick-started by the Nissan Qashqai.
When Peugeot launched the 5008, nine years ago, it was clearly an MPV. It had the usual MPV virtues and capabilities, being a versatile and capable carrier of people, luggage and equipment.
But, Peugeot naturally had ambitions to grow the 5008’s sales. Research pointed out that many people like the versatility of an MPV. But, they don’t particularly want to be seen driving around in one.
Whereas sports cars and SUVs conjure up desirable images of action and adventure, an MPV shouts family taxi. Apparently this is particularly true in China.
All this reminded me of one of the first MPVs I drove – the Toyota Picnic. It compounded the image problem by sporting a badge that proudly read “Toyota Picnic: family fun vehicle”. You can imagine what that would do for your ‘street cred’, if you parked it in the executive car park at work, or in pole position outside the gym!
Although the Peugeot 5008 was not saddled with such a laughable monicker, the company decided it was time for a new, more appealing image. Redesigned, the Peugeot 5008 now sports SUV looks, right down to that “clamshell” bonnet. The result is convincing, it looks substantial and quite imposing.
But, the SUV looks are just that. Looks. The 5008 is not a full-blown mud-plugger. There’s no four-wheel-drive version.
If you do want to venture off the tarmac, you can opt for Peugeot’s ‘Advanced Grip Control’ (but it is not available on this GT Line version I tested). For cars that can be equipped with it, you dial in the terrain that you are about to tackle (snow, mud or sand) and the electronics will help maintain traction.
To complement it there’s an optional ‘Hill Descent Control’ that will maintain a slow speed on slippery inclines, where injudicious braking can so easily spell disaster.
But, the Peugeot 5008 GT Line’s real strength is in its accommodation and versatility. The test car was the seven seat version. The middle row has three individual folding seats. The legroom is good and the headroom is adequate for most, but those regularly carrying loftier rear passengers might want to opt for a 5008 without the sunroof.
Behind that is a big, flat load floor with the occasional sixth and seventh seats neatly folded below. We put the load carrying ability to good test and were amazed to find that, what we thought would fill the boot, looked like half a load when it was inside.
Loading and unloading easy with a big tailgate (powered on this model). As is becoming quite common, It has the convenience that you can open it, hands full, by waving your foot under the back of the car.
There’s good space in the front for the driver and passenger. The spacious impression enhanced by a wide centre console. The driver enjoys a quite commanding driving position sitting in what Peugeot call their i-Cockpit.
The first thing you notice on cars with the i-Cockpit is a small diameter steering wheel. This, combined with a high instrument binnacle, means you look over the top of the steering wheel - rather than through it - to read the dashboard. The aim is to reduce the distance you have to take your eyes off the road.
Other i-Cockpit elements include the large touch screen colour control panel in the centre of the dashboard and that raised centre console.
Initially the small steering wheel surprises you, but I found it quite natural. While it suited me, as I always set my steering wheel low and the driving seat well back, some may find it less natural. One to try, before you buy, I guess.
I did have a couple of fights with the electronic parking brake and the stop-start system, but after a few miles we both got onto the same page. One thing I would like is a more obvious hill-hold system to inspire confidence.
The electronic dashboard display started up on some funky graphics, so it was a relief to find I could change the display to more conventional dials. To my eye, dials are still the most capable of being read at a glance. It is initially a little unsettling that the rev counter goes anti-clockwise, but you soon get used to it.
Where some Peugeot interiors in the not-too-distant past have been a little bit dour, the 5008 does look suitably sharp and exudes a feeling of quality in both the materials and the build. In recent years Peugeot has realised that a little bit of shiny metal on the switchgear gives quite a lift in terms of a quality appearance.
Another thing that I like was the ambient lighting lighting options for night time.
So, this is a comfortable place to command your 5008 and, on the GT Line, you get a seat massage function to refine the comfort levels.
Equipment levels generally are quite comprehensive and include a panoramic, opening sunroof. One small disappointment was that adaptive cruise control – which makes motorway driving so much more enjoyable and safer – is an optional extra.
On the subject of options, the test car was fitted with the optional Visio Park 360º camera system. This gives you a quite remarkable “helicopter” view of your car as though you had a drone parked immediately above the car.
I first experienced this type of system on the McLaren 720S
and it really does give you greater confidence that you are not about to hit something unseen as you manoeuvre in tight spaces.
Peugeot, of course, has long experience with diesel engines so it is no surprise that the 1.5-litre diesel in the test car is a user-friendly power unit and notably quiet too.
While the performance of this 1500cc diesel Peugeot 5008 doesn’t set new standards it is responsive and torquey. Although it is quite small for a diesel engine powering a large vehicle , it proves well up to the job. The 0-62 acceleration is quick enough at 11.1 seconds and, more importantly, it picks up speed well in the overtaking range.
I was also well impressed with the economy. As you would expect with a diesel, it is also quite economical. I found my various runs consistently easily achieving over 40 mpg, even with the sport mode selected.
It’s notable that the more I drove the Peugeot 5008, the more I liked it. We did get off to a rocky first few miles until I got used to the electronic parking brake and the stop-start system. But in the end I was sad to hand back the keys.
As a versatile family vehicle that can carry people and loads, it is very convincing. And the little bit of SUV style makes it more attractive for sure.
Peugeot 5008 GT Line Premium BlueHDi
Carbon dioxide emissions: 106 g/km
Combined fuel economy 67.3 mpg
Top speed: 119 mph
0-62: 11.1 secs
Power 131 bhp
Engine size 1499cc diesel
Boot capacity 780/1940 (back seats up/folded)