Peugeot’s all-new 5008 has morphed from a regular people mover into a capable and practical seven-seat SUV for active families.
For many moons, Peugeots were as overtly French as snails in garlic sauce — and to certain Aussies — often about as alluring.
As in, not very.
In recent times, though, a mistral is sweeping through Peugeot (and Citroen) as it attempts to reinvent the brand in a way that will broaden product appeal beyond the 65 million citizens of France and its scattered territories.
We’ve seen this attraction in the current 308 hatch and wagon plus the SUV arsenal – the 2008, 3008, and now the 5008 — a versatile, compact seven seater now on sale across Australia.
Local interest in Peugeot-Citroen has cranked up in the past 11 months since the announcement the French had taken over Opel, which has been a steady source of product for Holden for eons.
The future of the Opel and therefore Holden products, including the Commodore is now fuzzy beyond the next few years.
Peugeot-Citroen will merge some products with Opel as it rationalises its range, and attempts to cut costs.
Holden will also surely lose influence and leverage in negotiations with the French over future vehicles — but Peugeot’s new philosophy of global appeal will help.
Let’s put it out there from the start; on a demanding, few-hours drive, the 5008 feels and looks like a very good premium family SUV.
Whether this translates to robust sales remains to be seen; Peugeot hasn’t been front of mind with the average Aussie shopper for decades. National sales were 3392 last year, with expectations from new distributor Inchcape that it will lift that number.
The 5008 joins the shorter five-seat 3008 (they’re essentially the same from the B pillar forward), and smaller 2008 crossover in Peugeot’s three-strong SUV lineup.
Peugeot may have been late to the SUV banquet, but its timing isn’t bad, with the segment showing real growth in Australia.
Like the 308 and 3008, the 5008 is built on the strong and light Efficient Modular Platform 2 (EMP2).
Engine selection is dictated by the three-tier trim levels.
The 1.6 turbo petrol engine used in the base Allure and mid-rung GT-Line (121kW of power and 240Nm of torque) accelerates the 1473kg Pug to 100km/h in an unhurried 10.5 seconds. It feels a little quicker than that, and there are no stressful sounds from under the bonnet.
Peugeot has a reputation for creating fine oil burners, and the diesel-only GT uses a turbocharged four-cylinder common-rail direct-injection 2.0 BlueHDi of 133kW and 400Nm.
Despite being more than 100kg heavier than petrol variants, the diesel is a tad swifter to 100km/h, and its generous torque gives it a pleasing driveability on climbs and off the mark.
Buyers will be lured by its brilliant combined-cycle 4.8L/100km consumption.
The initial impression of both powerplants is pervasive refinement. Even the diesel is subdued, with little evidence of noise and vibration in a well-presented cabin that clearly benefits from excellent sound suppression.
The conventional Aisin six-speed auto works nicely with both engines, too. Fixed (aaagh!) steering wheel paddles can be activated to encourage the 5008 to push harder, but sporty performance remains elusive. This is a family chariot, after all.
And a roomy one at that. The 2840mm wheelbase allows up to seven reasonably-sized adults on board.
Getting into the back row is a bit of a test for someone of my 187cm. But the 5008 remains rather compact externally — it’s 4641mm long, 2098mm wide (door mirrors included) and stands 1646mm tall.
Peugeot’s second generation i-Cockpit interior is ergonomically smart, with functions and features wrapped around the driver — high-mounted instruments mean the driver need not take their eyes off the road for long.
The i-Cockpit (first seen on the 208) is further enhanced on GT-Line and GT models by the Amplify ambience function that allows interior scents (via an in-built diffuser), lighting, driver massage, drive mode and ambience settings — to be customised.
For a high-rising, front-drive SUV, a further pleasant surprise is the agreeable road manners of the 5008, more so the GT Line and GT.
The standard wheel sizes are 18-inch alloys with 225/55 R18 tyres on the petrol Allure and GT Line, while the GT diesel offers 19-inch alloys with 235/50-series rubber.
All 5008s get autonomous emergency braking and active cruise control, lane departure warning, driver attention alert — all of which should be standard on all vehicles according to those drivers who routinely use their phones on the move.
Auto dual-zone air conditioning with rear console ventilation is also standard along with eight cupholders. So is the latest in infotainment – Bluetooth connectivity, voice directives to radio and phone, Apple Carplay and Android Auto mirror linking, DAB digital radio, wireless charging and USB socket.
The expansively equipped cabins of GT Line and GT versions are particularly cossetting and comfortable spaces to occupy, with the occasional curiosity.
Audi often employs a flat bottomed steering wheel. Not to be outdone by the old enemy, Peugeot goes for a flat bottom AND flat top wheel.
The GT Line and GT each come standard with a driver sport pack, which awakens senses with a more obvious engine sound, but also gives a more responsive accelerator pedal, snappier gear changes and delightfully, better weighted and more communicative steering feel.
I just wish there was an individual selection that allows the driver to pick and choose. I don’t need a noisy exhaust as a soundtrack on a family SUV — but then I’m not French.
The 5008 diesel GT appeals to a driver’s sporty side with enhanced dynamic character due to firmer suspension and the lower-profile 19-inch wheel and tyre combination.
Despite the extra weight – with plenty of added kilos over the front wheels – the GT has the nimbleness of a smaller vehicle, with minimal body roll, and a commendably eager response to steering wheel input.
We didn’t get the chance to lug a trailer, but the maximum braked towing capacity has been lifted to 1350kg for the local petrol variants, while the diesel remains at 1500kg.
The new 5008 SUV wears the ‘Origine France Garantie’ (Made in France) label. Once that might have been a warning sign. Not now, though.
2018 Peugeot 5008 6-spd auto seven-seater SUV pricing (plus on roads)
Allure 1.6 turbo petrol $42,990
GT Line 1.6 turbo petrol $46,990
GT 2.0 turbo diesel $52,990
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