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The Peugeot 5008 is a step forward for the brand, but it is not enough to transform the MPV market

There’s genuine relevance to Peugeot’s use of the number five in its naming of the Peugeot 5008 people carrier. In the annals of Peugeot’s history, a five suggests genuine practicality.

It was used on the 504 and 505 large saloon and wagon that spanned the late 1960s to the mid-1990s. The latter offered up to eight forward-facing seats long before the MPV proper arrived, thanks to a row of chairs in its boot, and gathered a world-renowned reputation for versatility and robustness. Visit certain parts of Africa today and you’ll still find 505s used as taxis and general family workhorses.

The 5008 shares components with the Citroen C4 Picasso, but they couldn't look more different

Peugeot hasn’t offered a medium-sized MPV before, however; the larger Peuegot 807 was its most recent people carrier, which was built in response to the vogue for voluminous ‘minivans’ that the original Renault Espace and Chrysler Voyager sparked in the late ’90s. The 806/807 was built in Valenciennes, France, as part of a joint venture between Peugeot brand owner PSA and Fiat SpA.

The Peugeot 5008, though, is a smaller ‘onebox’ utility car entirely in the current tradition. It offers five or seven seats and is available with a range of four-cylinder petrol and diesel motors of average size and performance. Its high driving position is very much in the same mould as the segment-defining Citroën C4 Grand Picasso, with which the 5008 shares its underpinnings.

The 5008’s introduction, at the end of 2009, coincided neatly with the promotion of Peugeot design director Gilles Vidal, whose influence was already beginning to show itself in the firm’s models. He promised a renaissance in styling direction.

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At the same time, the company also began to publicly suggest that the driving dynamics of its cars were in line for improvement after an extended period of self-confessed mediocrity. Both agendas augered well for the 5008.

DESIGN & STYLING

Peugeot 5008 rear

The 5008 is the first production model using Peugeot's new design language. This was previewed early in 2010 Peugeot with the radical SR1 concept, a swish roadster with more than a hint of Aston Martin about it – and an entirely new approach to the family face.

The 5008 is also the Peugeot that promised a return to form for a car company that, on the sly, will even admit its last good-looking car before this renaissance was the Pininfarina-styled 406 coupé of 1996.

Low boot lip makes loading heavy items easier but a large clearance is required behind the car to open the tailgate fully

Whether by design, to tie in with the SR1, just by coincidence, or to differentiate it from the similarly timed 3008, the 5008 was designed without Peugeot’s trademark gaping, mouth-like grille. The 5008 received a less conspicuous collection of front-end vents and orifices and, to our eyes and those of most people, looks much the better for it. The rest of the package is neatly, if undramatically, designed too.

Similarly unadventurous are the 5008’s underpinnings. It rides on an extended version of the architecture from the 308 SW, which also underpins the 3008 crossover and Citroën’s C4 Grand Picasso. Both the Grand Picasso and the 5008 are pure, simple, no-nonsense MPVs in the class that the Vauxhall Zafira did so much to popularise.

Beneath the steel monocoque, as with the 3008 and C4 Grand Picasso, the 5008 employs a pair of MacPherson struts at its front end, with its rear suspended by a torsion beam.

Under the bonnet, the engine range mirrors that of so many of Peugeot’s other medium-sized models. There is one petrol and one diesel - a three-cylinder, turbocharged 1.2-litre unit producing 128bhp, while the only oilburning option is a 118bhp 1.6-litre unit, with both units driven through a six-speed manual gearbox. Only the diesel engine is available with an automated six-speed 'box.

INTERIOR

Peugeot 5008 dashboard

It is this area more than any other that distinguishes the 5008. The finish and feel of the cabin, and the level of practicality therein, are crucial – and the Peugeot’s are quite good.

And yet the usual problems often encountered with so-called compact seven-seat MPVs burden the 5008’s interior. With all the seats raised there is very little usable luggage space and nowhere to put the boot cover, and realistically you will only get children in the rearmost two seats, unless those in the middle row are willing to compromise on legroom. But if we accept that this is a fairly spacious five-seat MPV with occasional capacity for seven, the 5008’s practicality case can only really be faulted for some quite small rear seats.

The flip-up plastic screen for the head-up display is an innovative, if slightly ugly solution

From the driver’s chair, the environment is a pleasant and airy one, thanks to a wide cabin, high-set seating position and low window line, plus a panoramic glass roof (it’s standard on range-topping models). It’s not perfect, though. Taller drivers may find space behind the wheel restricted if a baby seat is required in the second row. And while flagship-spec cars also get a head-up display, it is strong on early novelty but short on long-term benefit. The switchgear layout is also less than practical, with the fascia sloping forward so sharply that the driver has to lean forward to reach many of the controls.

Otherwise, the 5008 showcases some exceptionally good packaging and there are sufficient cubbyholes front and rear for you to easily stow clutter. Three individually sliding and reclining seats make up the second row, which will be ideal for three children or two adults. Access to the third row is gained by pulling a release on the second-row window seat, which causes the chair to slide forward as its base folds upright in a clamshell-like movement – convenient if you need access to the rear seats and have your hands full of shopping or children.

The rearmost seats fold flat just as easily with one tug of a cord, and there are fixed cupholders, armrests and door pockets built into the boot, which brings a welcome touch of comfort to the firm, narrow seats.

Overall, the 5008 has all the space and comfort required of a car in this class, together with an attractive interior and, in some respects, class-leading usability. 

On the equipment front, there is only two trims to choose from - Active and Allure. The entry-level model comes with 17in alloy wheels, front foglights, automatic wipers and lights, and parking sensors on the outside as standard, while inside there is electric windows, dual-zone climate control, additional storage areas, Bluetooth and USB connectivity.

The range-topping Allure models gain 18in alloy wheels, tinted rear windows and a panoramic sunroof, while inside there is sat nav, a reversing camera and a head-up display.

ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

Peugeot 5008 front quarter

The 1.6-litre HDi 120 diesel 5008 (generating an imperial 118bhp) is the only version available. Even driving through a six-speed manual gearbox, the Peugeot's performance is moderate at best. Our test 5008 wanted a full 13sec to reach 60mph from a standstill, and although standing-start acceleration is never the strong point of small diesels in moderately large cars like this (we weighed it at 1645kg), in-gear flexibility is not the 1.6-litre engine’s forte in this application, either.

Accelerating from 50-70mph in top gear is a 12.1sec exercise, while shifting to fifth will save two seconds, so to make good progress it’s worth working the engine and gearbox, because in fourth gear the same increment can be dispatched in a touch over eight seconds.

The six-speed manual gearbox is the transmission of choice

Peugeot’s acceleration claims suggest that you’ll get better performance from the identically engined eHDi, but we wouldn’t recommend the robotised manual gearbox fitted to the car, which suffers from poor responsiveness and clunky changes. A well driven manual would be a much smoother, and equally economical drive.

Our test track was extremely cold and frosty in places, so the 5008’s ability to stop from 60mph in three seconds and from 70mph in less than 50m was an entirely respectable result. The brakes resist fade ably, too.

RIDE & HANDLING

Peugeot 5008 cornering

Throughout the early 2000s, Peugeot struggled and largely failed to make cars that not only looked good but also gave the driver something to relish from behind the wheel. However, the 3008 suggested that things might be on the turn, and the 5008 continues the trend.

Obviously, neither the 3008 nor the 5008 is overtly dynamic, but neither are they supposed to be. What they do both manage is to feel comfortable and controlled on the road, without being sporty. They’re at least capable of satisfying and quietly impressing the attentive driver, without giving him or her anything to get excited about.

The energy-saving Michelin Primacy tyres offer reasonable grip

Given that the 5008 is based on the same platform and shares the same purpose as the Citroën C4 Grand Picasso, the particularly gratifying thing is that it retains most of the comfort of the Citroën, but sheds its sister car’s soggy, lethargic attitude to anything other than a dead straight road.

The Peugeot’s ride is good enough to be considered on a par with the comfortable Renault Grand Scénic, but it has more consistent steering and more composure to its body movements.

The Peugeot has commendable body control, supple damping, and communicates fluently via its electrohydraulic power steering system – something that is becoming a rarity in new cars, and is a welcome find. A Ford S-Max is still a more athletic and engaging family car, but then the Ford has dynamic abilities way beyond those expected of an MPV. The 5008 simply meets the class’s ride and handling standards, without smashing them.

The 5008 is generally refined, too, with wind and road noise that remain restrained even at motorway speeds. High-speed stability is fine and, combined with well weighted and accurate steering, makes the 5008 a doddle to drive over long distances.

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

Peugeot 5008

Most Peugeot 5008s sold in the UK wilbe seven-seat versions like our test car, even though there’s a five-seat option on base models. In range-topping trim, the car offers decent value and includes some premium-grade equipment, but comes with a price that brings it too close for comfort to base versions of the generally superior Ford S-Max.

Like for like, it’s better equipped than the Ford, but the Ford S-Max would still be our choice here, although we’re inclined to think that the 5008 offers better value in mid-spec trim.

It seems odd that the 5008 is offered with five seats, even though most models will feature seven

What the 1.6 HDi engine lacks in power it more than makes up for in fuel economy. On our touring route we coaxed 47.8mpg from the 5008, but even in mixed driving we often managed mid-40s, with an overall average of 40.2mpg, which is excellent given the sometimes stern use our road test cars receive.

Depreciation on the 5008 is par for the course in this segment, which means less than 40 per cent residual value after three years. Running costs – ie servicing and insurance should be quite low.

VERDICT

4 star Peugeot 5008

Peugeot’s promise of renewed flair and competitiveness from its cars can only have been made during the latter stages of the 5008’s development, but it’s heartening to find that this medium-sized MPV displays some of the talents, capacities and charms that the French manufacturer’s offerings have for so long been lacking.

This is a moderately attractive, well judged, comfortable and very practical family car about which there is little to dislike, and in which there are even distant flickers of driver satisfaction to unearth.

The 5008 is a huge leap forward over the previous 807

It’s pleasing to note that the 5008 drives well, not least thanks to its fluent steering, taut ride, tidy handling and competitive range-topping petrol and diesel engines. While some cars of this size and type do little to hide their mass and proportions, this Peugeot doesn’t wallow or role but turns and stops with the balance and composure of a smaller car.

And for those whose primary concern is the 5008’s flexible interior, it’s reassuring that it is as well thought-out and executed as most cars in the class.

There are larger and more accommodating MPVs on the market in outright terms, but few are as intelligently laid out as the 5008. And material quality may not be the Peugeot’s strongest suit, but the 5008’s cabin is nonetheless fairly robust and entirely pleasant.

While the 5008 fails to quite hit the top of the class overall, it can at least be had at a price that a Ford S-Max cannot, and there we’d make it our vehicle of choice. 

Peugeot 5008 2010-2016 First drives