Handsome new Peugeot 5008 SUV is much more desirable than the old MPV version, but still spacious and practical. Very refined too.
In the metal
It's an imposing looking thing, the new Peugeot 5008. In essence, it's a stretched version of the new 3008 (extended by 190mm) with a taller roofline at the back, but it somehow manages to look a touch more glowering and lofty than the 3008. The claw-shaped headlamps and aggressive front bumper design won't please everyone, but we like them and the way the extra space in the back is disguised is done well.
Inside, you'll either love or loathe the 'i-Cockpit' layout with its tiny, hexagonal steering wheel and high-set instruments. We know roughly an equal number of people in both camps, but we tend to come down on the side of love. It can be odd, and it doesn't suit all body shapes and sizes, but at least Peugeot is trying to do something a little different.
What's not in doubt is the fact that the all-digital displays look great. The main instruments, shown on a 12.3-inch TFT screen, are really classy and can be flipped and changed into pretty much any configuration you like. The central eight-inch touchscreen looks a little less jazzy by comparison, but Peugeot (as in the 3008) has vastly improved the way it works, with physical toggle-switch 'hot keys' to allow you to more easily jump between menus. It's still a needless faff, to our minds, to have no simple physical controls for the heating and air conditioning, but it's a step forward nonetheless.
Quality is generally excellent (although one of our test cars had broken air vents). Peugeot says that it has risen in the latest round of JD Power quality index rankings (second in Germany last year, behind only Mitsubishi) and the look, feel and finish of the 5008's cabin seems to reflect that. Is it up to Audi-BMW-Mercedes level? Yeah, damn near actually with some nice touches such as the way the cockpit truly wraps around the driver, and the tactile fabric inserts on the dash where you might expect fake aluminium or wood. Even the door panels look and feel nice, and that's an area that many car makers overlook.
Surprisingly, on the practical front, there's almost no penalty for switching the 5008 from a traditional MPV to a more fashionable SUV. Space in the middle row is excellent, especially when those seats (all three of which individually slide, fold and recline) are pushed all the way back. There are also ISOFIX child seat points in all three of those chairs (plus another optional one in the front passenger seat) so growing families are going to love the 5008. The third row seats don't have ISOFIX, but they do, with a little sliding of the middle row, have enough space for an adult to squeeze in for a short hop. Boot space is excellent. Push the middle row seats forward and upright and Peugeot says you'll fit 952 litres in with the third row seats folded away. You can even remove those third row seats entirely (adding an extra 80 litres), and with all seats folded flat, there's more than 2,000 litres to play with. The front passenger seat also folds flat, allowing you to load items that are more than three metres long, and in this in a car that is a mere 4.6 metres long overall. Why would you still buy a conventional MPV, can anyone tell me?
You are not going to buy the Peugeot 5008 for the way it drives. Yes, there is an optional Sport mode that reduces assistance to the (otherwise very light and over-assisted) steering and sharpens up the throttle response, but this is a big, soft family wagon that much prefers you to sit back and enjoy the view. Press hard and the 5008 pushes through its initial understeer to bite more eagerly at the apex of a corner, and body roll is quite well controlled, but it never feels entirely at home doing that, and you've already gone past the back-seat vomit limit at that stage.
You are going to buy the 5008 for the way it drives if what you want is comfort and refinement, although that statement comes with a caveat. That caveat is to not, under any circumstances, spec it with 19-inch wheels. With those rims, the ride just becomes too busy, too fidgety and too firm. Better by far to sacrifice the aesthetics and go for the 18-inch alloys instead, at which point the 5008 becomes positively soft and squishy, which is surely better for family use. Refinement is genuinely impressive too, with very little wind or tyre noise, and all of the engines are kept aurally under control.
Speaking of which, diesel is no longer the default choice. In fact, for most purposes, the 130hp 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine tested here is the superior unit. The 5008, in spite of looking as if it has hit the creatine powder, is actually 95kg lighter than the old one, so the little turbocharged petrol engine performs adequately. It snarls with an appealing little sound when you rev it hard, yet is quiet and refined the rest of the time, and has just enough grunt for overtaking on a two-lane road. It's also tax efficient, with CO2 emissions as low as 115g/km for the manual version and 120g/km for this six-speed automatic. We tried a 150hp 2.0-litre BlueHDi diesel as well, and while it was impressively silent and had easier access to its torque, there was no great advantage over the petrol model.
What you get for your money
Peugeot's Irish distributor is still working out prices and specifications for the 5008, but the early word is that it will be very sharply priced. Even with seven seats and the all-digital i-Cockpit as standard, it should roughly shadow the cheapest seven-seat versions of the Skoda Kodiaq, with prices expected to kick off at around €29,000. Significant safety items such as autonomous emergency braking will be standard from second-level Active trim and up.
Shifting from an MPV shape to an SUV may have seemed revolutionary but Peugeot was just getting in ahead of the crowds. Here is a car with MPV practicality and space, but with the body shape that people crave. If the pricing turns out to be as good as is being said, this new 5008 could quickly become a firm family favourite.