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MPV turns SUV. Does the new Peugeot 5008 offer the best of both worlds or flawed compromises?

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When it was launched in 2010, the first Peugeot 5008 was exactly what you’d expect of an MPV.

It had an impressively flexible interior, it was an undemanding car to drive and it adhered doggedly to a one-box appearance.

A substantial chrome grille plays a large part in the 5008’s aggressive demeanour, showing that this SUV means business

That it also handled with the dexterity of a smaller car and undercut the Ford S-Max on price helped seal it a four-star rating from us, but it never amounted to anything more than a determinedly functional product.

Seven years later and the game had changed. Although there was still no shortage of people who require what a traditional MPV such as that original 5008 offered, far fewer of them actually want to be seen in one, particularly in China.

Instead, they wanted, and continue to want, an SUV and all the kerbside appeal that goes with it. As a result, PSA Group’s product planners on Avenue de la Grande-Armée who devised an all new second generation that had been transformed into the rakish C-segment SUV when it was unveiled in 2017.

Quite a departure from its forebear, it's based on the smaller Peugeot 3008 crossover, only with an elongated bodyshell to allow for the fitment of seven seats instead of five. As a member of this increasingly popular clique of cars – and one with unreservedly upmarket objectives at that – it goes up against the likes of the Skoda Kodiaq, BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer and Seat Seat Tarraco, among others.

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Given the 5008’s popularity, it was no surprise that Peugeot chose not to mess with a winning formula when it pulled the covers off a revised version in 2020. Subtly redesigned on the outside and with a range of new engines, the family-friendly French machine faces even more competition than ever. So is it still a desirable choice for those looking for space, style and a sprinkling of driver appeal?


Peugeot 5008 rear

The 5008 sits on the modular EMP2 platform of the Stellantis Group, which owns Peugeot, Citroën, DS and Vauxhall-Opel among many others.

It’s 190mm longer than the 3008 – although at a glance you’d be hard-pressed to tell the two apart on the road – and it uses that additional span to squeeze in a third row of seats. As you’d expect, most of that extra sheet metal is at the rear of the car, where the 5008 has a longer wheelbase and more upright tailgate, both helping free up extra space for those sitting in the very back.

The i-Cockpit ergonomics are odd, but the high-mounted digital instrument binnacle is refreshingly easy to read on the move

The rugged costume is certainly effective, the 5008’s dimensions yielding a bluff, athletic, hard-edged design softened only by numerous intricacies picked out either in chrome-effect trim or gloss black plastic. It’s not as rough-and-tumble in its SUV aesthetic as the Mercedes GLB or Land Rover Discovery Sport, but the Peugeot makes no bones about its desire to fit in with the rough roading set.

Both ends of the car are imposingly sheered off, the front exhibiting numerous design elements but somehow managing to avoid looking overwrought. That said, the 2020 facelift delivered a better resolved nose treatment, with a sharp look influenced by the smaller 208 supermini and the addition of LED headlamps.

Overall this is an attractive car, to the extent that it may even turn the heads of those set on more glamorous options such as the Land Rover Discovery Sport.

However, the 5008’s rugged SUV exterior conjures a perception that isn’t borne out by the mechanicals. Indeed, you cannot buy a 5008 with four-wheel drive. To make up for the lack of a driven rear axle, Peugeot has introduced Advanced Grip Control as an option - although it’s only available on the top spec GT Premium model.

It offers a range of traction control settings – Normal, Snow, Sand, Mud and ESP Off – along with a hill descent control system and the fitment of mud and snow tyres. It’s a set-up that should suffice for any soft-roading demands made of the chassis, but no more. What’s more, when pushed, Peugeot’s engineers will admit that it’s actually the special all season rubber that does most of the heavy lifting when the going gets slippery.

Locomotion, meanwhile, comes courtesy of one of four engines – two petrols, with either 128bhp and 179bhp, and a pair of diesels, also ranging from 128bhp to 179bhp.

There’s a choice of either a six-speed manual on lower powered versions, plus there’s an eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission that’s standard on the 179bhp petrols and diesel, and optional on all the other units.

Unlike the 3008, there’s no plug-in hybrid option available with the larger 5008, despite it sharing much of the same architecture under the skin. By making space for the third row of seats it’s not possible to accommodate either the battery pack or the rear axle electric motor.

Five trim levels are available, with prices starting at £31,145: Active Premium, Allure (although this is from stock only), Allure Premium, GT and GT Premium. We’d imagine most buyers will be satisfied with Allure Premium, which includes parking sensors, a reversing camera, automatic lights and 18in alloy wheels.

It starts at £33,545, equipped with the 128bhp 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine, which is one of the biggest sellers and is a surprisingly strong powerplant that noticeably heightens the 5008’s refinement levels over the diesel models.

The 1.6-litre PureTech petrol, meanwhile, is available if you opt for GT tested here, and costs £38,355. Upgrade to the flagship GT Premium, however, and you’re faced with a hefty price tag of £40,255.


Peugeot 5008 interior

The layered dashboard elements particular to Peugeot concept cars of recent years have started to see the light of production with the 5008.

The way it curls around the cockpit and uses a selection of unusual but – outwardly, at least – high-quality materials will have you reaching for a touch when you first climb in.

The steering wheel is too small for you to be able to rest your right arm comfortably on the door trim. Big cars need big steering wheels

It suggests the French are getting closer to German build quality than the Germans are to French style, a feeling that’s backed up by the high grade materials used throughout. There are some hard and scratchy plastics used lower down in the cabin, but most of what you see and touch looks and feels good.

The wide centre tunnel, meanwhile, and the manner in which it separates the front-seat occupants, lends the cockpit a GT-car feel that is unusual, but very welcome in this class.

The sense that the 5008 belongs rather higher up the food chain than its badge suggests is amplified by the quality of our test car’s bolstered (but strangely unsupportive) seats and a bank of smart, silver toggle switches that sits below the infotainment system’s touchscreen.

The 5008’s infotainment system uses a 10.0in touchscreen but also employs separate toggle switches to bring up media, climate control, navigation, vehicle information and phone applications. Along with the rotary dials for volume, this makes it superbly easy to negotiate on the move.

Latency of the touchscreen is generally very good, with the software — which features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility — exhibiting only the occasional delay. The voice control function works well for simple commands, such as choosing a radio station, but it was stumped every time we attempted to set a navigation destination.

There’s also Peugeot’s 12.3in screen within the instrument binnacle. It exhibits fluid graphics and, along with the small steering wheel and central touchscreen, makes up the i-Cockpit. However, it’s a shame the 5008 doesn’t get the neat 3D floating graphics that feature on the smaller 208 and 2008 models.

There’s also very effective blue ambient lighting, which works to beautiful effect during night-time drives.

Peugeot’s compact steering wheel stands out, for better or for worse. It’s designed to sit beneath the high-mounted 12.3in digital instrument binnacle, which is itself positioned in a way that shrinks the interval during which the driver has his or her eyes off the road, like a halfway house HUD.

This small, elliptical wheel is comfortable to hold but elicits an awkward, remote feeling of steering the car from between your knees, no matter how the column is adjusted. Perhaps it’s best reserved for the marque’s pointy little hatchbacks.

Crucially, the new 5008 retains the versatility that defined the original – that is, all three middle-row seats can be separately folded, and boast adjustable length and inclination.
There’s ample leg room all round, owing to Peugeot’s lengthening of the EMP2 platform for this application, although limited rear head room is exacerbated if your car is fitted with the optional panoramic glass roof (£900 and only available on GT and GT Premium variants). With the third-row seats stowed away, the boot is cavernous, and accessible via a powered tailgate that can be operated by swiping your foot under the rear bumper.


2.0-litre HDi Peugeot 5008 engine

So long as the engine had enough about it to transport its potentially numerous occupants to their destination in a timely fashion, the notion of ‘performance’ has traditionally weighed lightly on the minds of prospective MPV buyers.

Now that Peugeot has disguised its people-carrier as a luxurious sports-utility vehicle, this way of thinking no longer applies.   

The 5008’s natural inclination is to understeer into tight hairpins, but get the front tyres hooked up and a throttle lift will agitate the rear axle

Our test car, equipped with the 179bhp 1.6-litre PureTech petrol and eight-speed automatic gearbox, recorded a 0-60mph time of  9.1sec. That’s a touch slower than the 8.3sec Peugeot claims for the 0-62mph time, but our figures are recorded two-up and with a full tank of fuel. Moreover, the Peugeout’s refusal to allow you to fully disengage the traction control means a clean launch off the line is often stymied by power-sapping electronic intervention.

What matters here, though, is that this engine delivers its efforts in a refined, surprisingly sonorous manner that’s a good match for the character of the 5008. On the road, where mid-range muscle matters more than the traffic light grand prix, it delivers brisk and usable performance. This is added by the closely stacked intermediate ratios of the eight-speed ‘box, which helped the Peugeot return some impressively lively in-gear acceleration times.

It’s pliable, developing 184lb ft from just 1,650rpm to propel the 5008 past slower traffic with reasonable ease, and happily being extended to the top of its rev range without any noticeable harshness or vibration. That said, there is a curiously synthetic quality to the engine note when you’re working it hard, and while it’s not unpleasant it also doesn’t really bear repeated listening.

Entry-level cars are fitted with a six-speed manual and, notwithstanding a clutch pedal that’s overly sprung (illustrative of a lack of finesse in the finer control details that separates this car from its German rivals), the transmission is easy enough to get along with, although not particularly engaging.

Most models, however, will be fitted with the same eight-speed automatic used by our test car. It’s not the quickest or crispest of self-shifters, but in many respects it suits the laid back character of the 5008. It slurs the ratios nicely and is rarely wrong-footed, but the changes are a little ponderous when compared to best torque converter units, let alone a swift-acting twin-clutch.


Peugeot 5008 cornering

Shaped like an SUV but very much intended for tarmac-based activities, the 5008 hits its brief as a refined family cruiser.

That, at least, is on reasonably smooth road surfaces, where the car rides well at higher speeds in the main, exhibiting close body control and pliancy while satisfactorily insulating occupants from the worst effects of tyre roar and wind noise.

Steering is low on feedback, so a sequence of faster bends means guiding the car based solely on visual cues

Visibility is also good and the speed of the steering rack has been appropriately adjusted to compensate for the decreased diameter of the wheel, although some may still consider it a fraction too direct for comfort.

As a vehicle in which to cover large distances primarily on motorways, the Peugeot demonstrates no serious flaws and feels suitably long-legged, displaying just enough of the easy-going grande routier vibe that used to be a French speciality.

Problems arise once the road surface deteriorates or becomes more tortuous – and unfortunately for those who live in the UK, the two go together a lot of the time.

It’s unlikely that the 18in alloy wheels fitted to our test car helped matters, but road imperfections were transmitted through the suspension and into the body with surprising ease, the resulting thumps dispelling the sensation of composed float for which larger French cars are traditionally celebrated.

Although body roll is generally well managed, the 5008 shows less poise when dealing with vertical inputs, exhibiting a strange blend of hard-edged sloppiness if you’re really pushing on. 
This could well be a compromise brought about by the need to manage the lateral movements of what is a deceptively tall car.

In an attempt to alleviate these troubles, you might be tempted to press the Sport button mounted on the transmission. You needn’t bother. All it will get you is a synthesized engine note pumped into the cabin and increased throttle response.

Neither is welcome nor necessary. We’d instead advise you to manage your expectations of this car’s handling abilities and play to its strengths – namely, easy-going long-haul routes.

Despite its chiseled aesthetic, the high-riding 5008 was not a car that we expected would take easily to the tortuously undulating hill route at Millbrook, and while it hardly disgraced itself there’s little reward to be had from hustling hard from corner to corner.

Significant vertical inputs administered in quick succession can leave the chassis a little discombobulated, but Peugeot has managed to give the tall 5008 vehicle just enough lateral body control for it to tolerate being manhandled through bends with commitment.

There’s precious little feel through the wheel, but it’s well weighted and the small diameter rim creates a welcome feeling of agility. Driven briskly, the 5008 clings on gamely and will pick a precise line through a corner, while a lift of the throttle is enough to get the car to benignly tighten its line. But push harder and you can feel the torque vectoring and ESP systems nibbling away as they start to fight the mass and height, at which point the Peugeot becomes a little ragged.

You may not come to enjoy hustling this car, but with a calculated approach, the 5008 can be made to cover ground with unexpected pace.


Peugeot 5008

Peugeot’s relentless push to match premium rivals is laudable in many respects, not least because in terms of style and finish the 5008 lands some convincing blows on the upper crust competition. 

Yet it’s not just in its showroom appeal and kerbside kudos that the car is aiming high, because the brand’s product planners have been ambitious with pricing too. You’ll now need a whisker over £31,000 for the entriest of entry-level models, while pushing the bateau out on a flagship GT Premium 2.0 HDi will leave you just £25 change from £42,000. For comparison, a Skoda Kodiaq will cost you around £1,000 to £2,000 less, spec for spec.

Expect it to hold its value better than the X-Trail after four years/48k miles but not quite as well as the Kodiaq

There is an upside, however, in that the Peugeot does benefit from surprisingly rock solid residuals. Even when compared to a rival with the blue chip reputation of the Mercedes GLB, the 5008 comes out on top after three or four years, retaining more of its value. That’s quite something when you think about the French firm’s frequently flaky performance in this area in the not too distant past.

On paper, the combination of a large SUV body, relatively small turbocharged engine and automatic gearbox isn’t one that brings to mind thoughts of fuel efficiency - and so it proves. Our test return of 32.7mpg isn’t disastrous, but it falls short of the claimed figure of between 36.4 and 43.8mpg. That said, for a car that weighs 1521kg, fuel efficiency isn’t bad, although once loaded with passengers and luggage you’ll likely see unleaded consumed at a more wallet-unfriendly rate.

The official CO2 emissions of 158g/km are nothing to write home about either, while for company car drivers there’s the significant financial hurdle of a 35% BiK rating. What’s more, go for the GT Premium and its inflated price tips it just over the £40,000 VED tax threshold, meaning you’ll be facing a £355 surcharge on your annual tax bill for the first five years of the car’s life.


3.5 star Peugeot 5008

In building a car designed to deliver the practicality of an MPV with the flair of a debonair SUV, Peugeot has broken ranks with its compatriot rivals, Renault and Citroën, and shown that it 
better understands what buyers want.

On the evidence of this road test, the marque deserves to be rewarded for its boldness, because although the 5008 is not the most engaging steer, few in this growing marketplace can match its combination of versatility, style and cabin ambience.

Bold, stylish and capable but lacking a class leader’s all-round polish

Peugeot’s execution is not without question, though. Caveats include a lack of four-wheel drive (although the Grip Control is surprisingly effective and, let’s face it, few owners of this type of car are likely to heading off the beaten track), poor second-row head room and a chassis let down by its inability to insulate occupants from the grumbling effects that poor road surfaces impart – areas in which rivals offer more.

That said, as tested here the 5008 benefits from a punchy petrol powertrain that’s more efficient than you’d think, while recent revisions have further enhanced its indisputable style, plus added more user-friendly tech and advanced driver aids. 

It certainly makes a decent amount of sense for those looking for a composed, comfortable and stylish family car that has the versatility to carry seven once in a while. However, unless you're dead set on the extra gadgets and gizmos, we’d avoid the GT models and look to the already adequately equipped and more modestly priced Allure Premium variants.

Yet there’s no escaping the fact the class has moved on since the latest 5008 broke cover, and this mid-life facelift doesn’t do enough to elevate the Peugeot beyond the top of a very tightly packed mid-field.

Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

Peugeot 5008 First drives