Good: handsome inside and out, roomy, comfortable, well-equipped, well-priced
Not so good: engine feels a touch under-powered
In an ideal world I'd knock around 18 inches of height out of the new Peugeot 5008, turn the folding third row of seats around to face the back, fit incredibly soft suspension and call it a true and proper successor to the classic Peugeot 505 estate. Sadly, we don't live in an ideal world, and so my mutant estate 5008 will have to remain a pipe dream. Still, the good news is that, even though it is a fashionable SUV, the 5008 is really quite an excellent car.
Based, not surprisingly, on the hugely successful and multi-award-winning Peugeot 3008, and sharing that car's EMP2 platform and engines, the 5008 is Peugeot taking a big leap of faith away from the traditional MPV (which is what its identically-named predecessor was) and into the world of seven-seat SUVs. That faith will doubtless be rewarded - after all, we all want an SUV nowadays, don't we?
It's a pretty handsome thing, the new Peugeot 5008. The front is a little more upright and bluffer than the 3008's, but it has the same claw-shaped headlights and inset grille, and while a casual observer might struggle to tell the two cars apart from the front, it's certainly a good-looking car. That's equally true of the side and rear profiles, where I think the 5008's longer, taller, more square rear end is slightly more elegant (or at least intellectually honest about its SUV nature) than the 3008's more sloped back.
Inside, that extra length and height pays welcome dividends in terms of space. The rear seats, three individual chairs each with ISOFIX points, are massively spacious with sufficient legroom for full-sized adults to get comfy. The folding third row isn't bad either, with enough room for kids to scramble happily back there. Better yet, the boot is massive when those seats are folded away, and you can even remove them altogether if you really need to maximise load space.
Up front, you get more or less the same dashboard as the 3008, which means the same high-tech looking all-digital instrumentation, with a 12.3-inch TFT instrument screen and the seven-inch, high-mounted infotainment display in the middle. That screen employs the elegant, piano-like 'hot-keys' to great effect, making it much easier to navigate what would otherwise be a fiddly and at times confusing menu system.
The front seats are a little on the narrow side, but, for the most part, the 5008 proves effortlessly comfortable on a long journey, even if that low-set, hexagonal steering wheel takes a little getting used to. Overall quality seems very good too, possibly the best that Peugeot has ever managed.
Our test car, in mid-ranking Allure spec, came with the 120hp 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesel engine, mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox. That's good news on several fronts - the gearbox, despite being short of a ratio or two compared to some rival systems, is smooth and effortless, and the engine is mostly very refined and has decent real-world economy figures. We cracked the 45mpg barrier in daily driving, for instance.
The downside is that the BlueHDi engine just doesn't feel all that quick. The 5008 isn't especially light, so after an initially decent burst of acceleration, the 1.6-litre engine's performance quickly tails off. Better to keep things more languid - it suits the nature of the car anyway, but we reckon you'd be better off going for the excellent 1.2-litre 130hp petrol engine.
Handling is fine, not exceptional, and you are kept at one remove from what the chassis is doing by steering that is much too light and over-assisted. Behind that curtain, the 5008 drives very tidily, not rolling too much, doing a good job of absorbing bumps (although the suspension can get a touch noisy around town) and generally behaving itself. It's one of those odd cars that doesn't drive in an exciting manner, not even slightly, yet one which you still crave a long journey in just because it does so much stuff so well.
And it is exceptionally good value. By comparison, a rival Skoda Kodiaq, in base form, costs about the same, but doesn't have seven seats as standard (the Peugeot does), doesn't have digital dials as standard (again, the Peugeot does) and whose basic 125hp 1.4-litre petrol engine is nowhere near as nice to drive as Peugeot's 1.2.
Yes, I'd much prefer it to be a big estate rather than an SUV, but that's just my own person proclivity. Whatever your views on that subject, there's no getting away from the fact that the Peugeot 5008 is one of the most impressive new family cars around.