There are clearly bigger and more expensive large family cars you might buy, so the 5008 has to strike a perfect compromise between fairly compact and manageable exterior dimensions and well-packaged occupant space. It does that well enough, with notable strong suits and a few hiccups.
The car has three individual second-row chairs, each offering plenty of leg room on account of the 165mm that has been added to the platform’s wheelbase as part of the 5008’s making. Each chair folds, slides and reclines into various positions, and each has its own ISOFIX child seat anchorages, thumbs up for that. But to sit in, their cushions feel a bit hard, flat, short and slim, and second-row head room is quite poor if you option your car with Peugeot’s panoramic glass sunroof. Avoid that and head room in both the first and second rows is much improved, alhough it’s well worth noting that with top-line GT-trim cars, you’re stuck with glass roof.
The 5008’s third-row seats aren’t really big enough for adult passengers, but they’re still typically useful for this type of car. On the plus side, they’re easy to fold and can even be removed, liberating up to 1000 litres of boot space behind the second row. In the minus column, those rearmost seats don’t have childseat anchorages and the 5008’s front passenger seat doesn’t either, so carrying a small army of kids in this car might not be as straightforward as it might have been.
The 5008’s driving environment gives with one hand to take away with another, just as the 3008’s does. The fascia is quite striking, stylish, richly finished and apparently well-constructed, while the standard flatscreen digital instruments are definitely a stand-out feature, giving you plenty of choice about what information you want in front of you. The layout of the controls, however – the high seat, downsized and low-sprouting steering wheel, high-set instruments – remains strange and unintuitive even so many years after we first encountered the iCockpit concept on the current 208 supermini. Peugeot’s argument is that its customers love the layout, and that familiarity makes it seem less odd – but it hasn’t yet become that way for us.
To drive, the 5008 is competent, secure-handling and comfortable for the most part, its suspension settings conferring a fairly gentle, compliant ride when the road surface is good. Over testing undulations, the car’s vertical body control becomes a bit loose and wallowy, while broken, sharp-edged asphalt can bring the occasional thump and crash from the arches. A Nissan X-Trail probably has a broader-based comfort level.
The Nissan’s carefully metered handling and steering would also beat the 5008. The Peugeot's handling is precise enough and well controlled through bends, if a little remote and bothersome thanks to a contrived, over-direct and elastic-feeling steering system, and the wheel becomes overly light and particularly troubling at town speeds.
Peugeot’s 2.0-litre BlueHDi diesel engine seems a good match for the 5008’s mass and has better refinement and tractability than the 1.6 diesel we tested in the new 3008 just a few months ago. The shift quality of the six-speed manual gearbox left a bit to be desired but doesn't prevent the powertrain being pleasant to engage with at all times except when you press the car's obligatory Sport button, which adds uncalled-for speaker-generated noise to the engine's soundtrack and blights the pedal response with over-sensitivity in the first inch or so of travel.