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

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 has changed. Although there’s 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 want an SUV and all the kerbside appeal that goes with it. This hasn’t gone unnoticed among the PSA Group’s product planners on Avenue de la Grande-Armée (although it seems to have done just that at compatriot Renault), and what those planners have thus devised for the new 5008 is the rakish C-segment SUV seen here.

It’s quite a departure from its forebear and is based on the smaller 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 Nissan X-Trail, among others.

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By treading the line between SUV and MPV, Peugeot has been ambitious. If it is to deliver on the promises made by its muscular, two-box design and people-carrying potential, the 5008 needs to offer the lithe handling and raised ride height characteristic expected of an SUV with the practicality and long-range refinement of an MPV.

Without an unlimited engineering budget, there are compromises to be managed here between ride and handling, aesthetics and ergonomics, and performance and economy.

Determining to what extent this portmanteau of a car manages those concessions is the aim of this road test.

First drives