Test Car Specifications
Model tested: Peugeot 5008 1.2 PureTech 130hp Automatic
Engine: 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Transmission: six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door, seven-seat SUV
CO2 emissions: 120g/km (VED Band C, €30 per annum)
Combined economy: 54.3mpg
Top speed: 116mph
0-62mph: 10.4 seconds
Power: 130hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 230Nm at 1,750rpm
Boot space: 952 litres (five seats up), 2,042 litres (all seats down)
It is the new Peugeot 5008, which the eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted, is no longer a dreary-dad-mobile, soccer-club-taxi MPV, but a tall and sexy SUV. Yet within still lie seven seats, plenty of space and a likely tempting price tag.
Although the 5008 looks tall and bluff, it's actually quite compact at just over 4.6 metres long and only about as tall as the old 5008 MPV. The efficiencies of the EMP2 platform (which can also be found under the Peugeot 308 hatch and the new 3008 crossover) mean that cabin space is actually slightly improved and the whole car is as much as 95kg lighter.
Compared to the Peugeot 3008, the 5008 is 190mm longer and 165mm of that is in the wheelbase. That means it's exceptionally roomy. Slide the three individual middle-row seats fully back and you've got Club World legroom and no little comfort. The row behind is, inevitably, much less well-endowed, but adults can just about squeeze in. They will grumble if left back there for long. Thankfully for families, Peugeot has included ISOFIX child seat anchors for all three middle row seats.
Space inside is pretty impressive. Peugeot quotes a 952-litre boot with the rear seats folded flat, and that expands by another 80 litres thanks to the fact that those third row seats actually lift out altogether (which sadly means no ISOFIX back there). Fold down everything and you can squeeze more than 2,000 litres of IKEA's finest treasure in, and if you fold the front passenger seat flat, the 5008 will swallow an impressive 3.1-metre long load, as well.
Up front, there's Peugeot's latest i-Cockpit, lifted from the 3008. How you feel about that may vary, but we kinda like it. The high-set digital instruments, displayed on a 12.3-inch TFT screen, pretty much fulfil all of our Star Trek: The Next Generation fantasies, and the steering wheel - which is both hexagonal and small enough to count as a scale model of a steering wheel - will feel natural to anyone raised on PlayStation accessories. The central eight-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system looks a little underfed compared to some rival nine- and ten-inch systems, but the new shortcut buttons underneath, arrayed in a chromed row like a Cyberman's piano keys, look and feel great and make it much easier to flip your way from air conditioning to Apple CarPlay to navigation and back again.
The rest of the cabin is of very high quality with a lovely soft-touch feel to all surfaces, which extends to and across the doors (not always a given) and items such as the automatic gear selector have been clearly designed with care. The fit and finish are exceptionally good, and backs up Peugeot's recent dramatic rise in the JD Power quality rankings (its UK ranking has risen from 12th to fourth place in just a year).
The engine line-up contains two petrol options - 1.2 PureTech turbo and 1.6 THP turbo - and two diesels, each with two power outputs, ranging from a 1.6 with 100hp to a 2.0-litre with 180hp.
Of those, somewhat counter-intuitively, the little three-cylinder 1.2 petrol is probably the best. The 2.0-litre 150hp diesel is very smooth, has excellent power and good economy and emissions figures, but the 1.2 PureTech matches it beat for beat in on-paper figures, and proves a lively, engaging and refined companion on the road. It's no GTi powerplant, but then it doesn't have to be in a seven-seat family wagon. OK, for really long mileages, towing or carrying big loads, diesel still wins, but for those simply doing the school run, the 1.2 will do nicely, and although there's no four-wheel-drive option, Peugeot's clever Grip Control system should keep the ice-warning sweats at bay.
How does it drive?
Well enough for a family seven-seater. To be honest, no-one is going to be leaping out of bed on a Sunday dawn to take their 5008 for a spin over the mountains, but it's comfortable, quiet, composed and cosseting. The steering, even with that tiny wheel, feels a little over-assisted, and doesn't tell you much about what the front tyres are doing, but that craggy nose points well enough into corners, so that's OK. Early understeer gives way to more front-end grip than you might imagine, and thanks to well-controlled roll rates, the 5008 doesn't disgrace itself on a twisty road.
It's probably best suited to a motorway cruise though (helped by such things as lane keeping steering and active cruise control that take some of the strain), and the very good refinement really helps to make this a relaxing car to drive. Tyre and wind noise are well-suppressed and the engines, petrol or diesel, are very quiet.
You do need to spec carefully to preserve the ride quality though. Go for the tempting 19-inch alloy option and your 5008 will be too busy, too fidgety in its ride for proper comfort so potholes and sharp ridges will come and go with a loud bang and a reverberation through the chassis. Better by far to stick to the 18-inch options, which don't look any less tasty really, and which make the 5008 feel far more pliant and comfortable, for which your passengers will thank you.
We're still waiting for Peugeot to announce pricing for the 5008, but you can expect it to closely shadow the Skoda Kodiaq and to undercut traditional seven-seat SUV market strongholds such as the Land Rover Discovery Sport and the Hyundai Santa Fe. While its styling and cabin layout are certainly polarising, there's little to argue with in the way the 5008 drives, with its comfort and refinement and its overall practicality. It turns out that there really was a way to have a roomy family seven-seater, yet not be stuck with the stigma of driving a four-wheeled egg. The traditional MPV might have to be put on the critical list now that cars such as the Skoda and the seven-seat Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace are coming, and the 5008's expected June arrival could really put the kybosh on such cars.