Car reviews - Peugeot - 5008
Safety features, cockpit design, in-car technology, flexible seating, ride and handling balance
Room for improvement
Cabin refinement, speed limit recognition, minor fit-and-finish issues
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5 Feb 2018
By TERRY MARTIN
PEUGEOT senior management have freely admitted that the French brand is still in catch-up mode – “fashionably late” was the term used – when it comes to competing in the fast-growing SUV sector, and the arrival of the reborn 5008 marks its third entrant to showrooms alongside the shorter 3008 and smaller 2008.
Perhaps surprisingly, the seven-seat family wagon has managed to slot into the mid-size SUV classification as defined by the industry’s VFACTS sales reporting division – the same class as the five-seat 3008 upon which it is based – which helps Peugeot avoid comparisons with rivals like the Mazda CX-9, Hyundai Santa Fe and Skoda Kodiaq.
The trick for buyers is to look across both medium and large segments and take the time to compare on both price and specification, for Peugeot Australia has brought in the new 5008 at a higher entry point than some others – $42,990 plus on-road costs – but with a high level of features fitted standard across the range.
Study the details closely, and take a drive of the vehicle, and a compelling case emerges for those who may have thought Peugeot had lost its way.
All of a sudden, ‘5008’ now means something very different.
IT IS easy to be cynical in this job. Here we have a new 5008 but one that is now classified as an SUV – which buyers love – rather than a people-mover, which buyers now increasingly shun as they look to escape the humdrum of daily chores like the school run.
As it turned out, Australians did not care all that much about the 5008 MPV and it was withdrawn from the market after only a couple of years, while this new 5008 mid-size SUV – which does not, at this stage, have an all-wheel drive option – slots into one of the fastest-growing vehicle segments that racked up more than 195,000 sales across the industry last year.
So forgive us for being a tad cynical ahead of the vehicle’s launch in thinking this was a cunning move by Peugeot to simply reclassify its seven-seat family wagon as a different type of vehicle that will draw more attention by virtue of its segmentation rather than anything more substantial.
As is still the case, the previous 5008 was sold here with turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol or 2.0-litre diesel power, driving the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. It was practical, flexible, fairly spacious, utterly competent, highly equipped and attractively priced.
So what has changed?Well, in some respects, very little – and in others, plenty.
As we have already found with the shorter five-seat 3008 that has much in common with this one, the new-generation 5008 is instantly engaging, has a commanding presence and looks every bit a bona fide card-carrying member of the SUV brigade.
Ground clearance is now an impressive 230mm, and although there is no four-wheel-drive system on-board, the optional ‘grip control’ package offers enough to meet the needs of what Peugeot expects will be 20 per cent of buyers – revised traction control with snow/mud/sand/ESP-off modes, electronic assistance for steeper inclines and mud/snow tyres.
Peugeot does not claim the 5008 is a genuine off-roader and did not provide an off-road course on the national media launch last week to test the system.
So while we are yet to verify the efficacy of grip control, its availability alone is enough to warrant the SUV tag and at least offers a level of reassurance for owners who travel to ski resorts or seek a degree of adventure in their recreational pursuits.
There are others in this class, or a step above in the large SUV segment, for serious trail work.
Even as a largely bitumen-based vehicle, the new 5008 has plenty going for it.
No matter which variant is selected, from behind the flat-topped and flat-bottomed steering wheel the driver is presented with a thoroughly unique and modern dashboard and instrument binnacle layout with Peugeot i-Cockpit arrangement, which slants towards the driver and delivers a huge array of information that is fairly easily managed, read and digested.
Such is Peugeot’s insistence that only a fraction of buyers are looking for a lower-spec vehicle at the entry level, every version of the new 5008 is brimming with technology and creature comforts.
Seating comfort, support and key areas of adjustability for front occupants is excellent. Visibility is good, all controls are easily reached and electronic driver-assist features like the blind-spot detection and speed limit recognition perform their task efficiently.
One caveat here was the system’s frequent misinterpretation of speed limits – through school zones, roadworks, dual truck/car carriageways, and so on – that requires the driver to pay close attention to the signs rather than rely on the vehicle for full accuracy.
Most traffic police surely won’t take kindly to the plea: “But officer, it was the car’s fault, not mine.”
In other most other respects, the 5008’s behaviour is predictable, assured and comfortable.
With no luggage and only two adults on-board, some short stretches of winding roads in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney soon demonstrated that Peugeot’s chassis engineers have delivered a vehicle that maintains acceptable body control through corners at a decent clip, offers useful grip (on both 18- and 19-inch tyres), steers accurately and smooths out most road imperfections.
We found a little harshness rising through the steering rack of the petrol Allure on lumpier back roads, but no kickback, and one bump surprised us by setting off the voice control on the satellite-navigation system.
But these were challenging conditions and, if anything, reinforced how Peugeot has built in a level of driver engagement and involvement that is not typically seen in such a large, tall family wagon.
One area in need of improvement is the level of noise allowed into the Allure’s cabin from the road, tyres and wind off the wing mirrors at speed, which leaves the occupants to hear – rather than feel – the varying road surfaces and conditions.
While the ride quality is admirable, unwanted noise across gravel roads and coarse-chip bitumen was particularly disappointing given the premium status of the vehicle.
The 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine does a decent job of pulling the large wagon with gusto from low revs – clearly helped by the fact that maximum torque is delivered at just 1400rpm – and combines reasonably well with the six-speed automatic transmission, the latter responding to driver demands though not always as quickly as anticipated.
Our time in the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel GT – which has a sportier set-up with firmer steering, altered throttle mapping, sharper gearchanges and firmer suspension – was largely restricted to busy ‘Friday morning’ school and commuter traffic.
We had little opportunity to test its apparent higher degree of athleticism compared to the Allure, but the engine proved to be a refined and sufficiently strong performer that comfortably managed the stop-start conditions.
The driver is well aware of its diesel status but the engine note is best described as resonant rather than raucous.
Indeed, if real-world consumption turns out to be anywhere near as frugal as the quoted 4.8L/100km on the official combined cycle, the GT would probably be our pick with its superior performance/economy combination, apparent dynamic edge over the entry Allure and the extra bells and whistles that come with the top specification.
Packaging-wise, the 5008 does a good job of accommodating seven people and the rear compartment has enough flexibility in its seating arrangements to meet any shortcomings.
For example, the second row is made up of individual seats that move fore-aft, which can provide the extra legroom that many will crave from the third row.
From only a brief sitting, the centre-row seats feel relatively flat and occupants in the outboard positions who stand 188cm tall (like this author) will find the headroom limiting, particularly if the panoramic sunroof is fitted.
The centre position relies on a twin-buckle arrangement with the belt retracting from the roof, cutting into the driver’s rearward vision when employed, while the airline-style trays behind the front seats felt flimsy and did not sit horizontally on the Allure we sampled.
We also noticed some slightly awkward-fitting plastic trim in a few cars, particularly on the front pillars.
Access to the third row is a simple process via a tilt/slide function of the outboard seats, but the headroom could be restrictive (depending on the person) and legroom dependent on the position of the seat/s in front.
The second and third row seats fold down easily, providing a large and almost-flat floor, and the removal (and reinstallation) of the two rearmost seats is easily done.
Overall, the cabin leaves a positive impression with acceptable space for a seven-seater in the mid-size SUV class and attention to detail clearly demonstrated in areas such as airvent placement, the cupholder count, oddment storage, power socket provision and child seat tether strap points.
As it turned out, we had no reason to be cynical about the reclassification of the 5008 from MPV to SUV, and have come away impressed with its execution and, in particular, the high level of advanced specification fitted standard across the range.
It is still a big family wagon, but the fully redesigned 5008 looks and feels like a thoroughly modern vehicle, has unique elements that separate it from the pack and, yes, has every right to compete – and potentially succeed – in a crucial market segment.
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