Peugeot’s 5008 seven-seat compact MPV has the reputation as the enthusiast’s choice for those who need a family uber-wagon, with the motoring press being especially fulsome about it’s chassis and fine handling – so we borrowed one for a week to see what all the fuss is about.
The first surprise is that it looks much smaller in the flesh than I was expecting; it’s marketed as a ‘compact MPV’, but the reality is that it is seats seven people comfortably. Peugeot has managed to make it look so small through clever packaging and design rather than cramming seven seats into a space that should only have five. Top marks then for successfully resolving the ever-present tension between space and size.
It’s pretty too, with none of the awkwardness that sometimes creeps in when manufacturers try to make a big car look good; it’s a simple, clean design that works well. It is also – like most MPV’s, it has to be said – classless in a way that cars generally aren’t. You won’t be embarrassed getting into one, no matter where or what the circumstances.
You sit high with an unobstructed view of the clear dashboard thanks to a fully-adjustable steering wheel. Everything the driver needs is easily-accessible, with intuitive controls and a dash-mounted gear lever that is perfectly placed and weighted. There is a rounded feel to every control in the 5008 that I rarely come across (most recently in the Peugeot RCZ, funnily enough), a sense that nothing dominates or nags. This subtle, understated quality is very appealing.
The electronic handbrake takes a bit of getting used to, especially the hill-start feature that holds it on for a couple of seconds on an incline, but after a day or so I forgot all about it, which is probably the highest praise I can give it.
The panoramic sunroof elevates the inside of the car, flooding it with light. It might be fixed but it works beautifully and is probably the only ‘must have’ feature in the 5008 range, which limits your choice to those models at the upper end of the range.
The rear seats, which are leather in our car and commensurately easy to keep clean, slide and recline and fold up out of the way, enabling you to configure the car to carry all manner of people and objects. We managed to fit six people, plus luggage and a wheelchair without anyone feeling too cramped, although it has to be said that the mechanism to fold the seats isn’t the easiest to use and the handles do feel rather flimsy.
While I’m being critical, I must also point out that some of the half-hidden trim is a bit cheap. As an example, the edge of the cavernous centre cubbyhole has some rough edges and the bonnet release is distinctly agricultural. The bits that are highly visible are excellent but cost-saving is evident and might be expected in a car that starts at just over £18,000.
The 1.6-litre diesel engine fitted to our test car is rated at just 112bhp and 177lb ft of torque, but if you’re thinking that you need to pack a bigger gun in a car this size then you’re wrong. Sure, you need to punt it along on the gearbox sometimes but on the whole I was rarely left gasping for more power.
Interestingly, there is a languid nature to the 5008 that I found pleasing, which might not be entirely unconnected to the modest power output. Despite its very capable chassis (which can be driven very hard indeed while remaining fulfilling and faithful) it also rewards a more relaxed driving style; the driver can just kick back and enjoy the engine’s torque and the subtle rewards it bestows; even the adagietto rear wiper is in character – press it too quickly without holding and pausing and it simply won’t work.
Press-on drivers might read this as criticism but it isn’t. The Peugeot can be driven quickly, and is rewarding to do so, but how many of us drive like that with our family on board? To be so amply rewarded for driving carefully and considerately is rare, and the duality of the 5008′s nature is why I enjoyed it so much. It can stimulate, but it also soothes, something that every parent will appreciate when fractious children are involved…
The payoff, of course, is that the fuel consumption is also rather good. Over 600-odd miles I managed to get almost 45mpg, a remarkable figure for a car that is capable of carrying so many people.
Cheap, soothing, versatile, and rewarding; you’ll have gathered that I liked the Peugeot 5008, rough edges and all. The Ford S-Max might be slightly better to drive quickly, but the 5008 is the King of the family street sleepers.
You might not ever look at it and grin – but I bet you’ll sometimes look at it and smile.
Price: from £18,145 OTR (£26,575 as tested)
Maximum power: 112bhp
Peak torque: 177lb ft
0-62mph: 12.9 seconds
Top speed: 115mph
Fuel consumption: official: 51.3mpg, test: 44.7mpg
CO2 emissions: 144 g/km
Images: Â©2012 Carlton Boyce