What is it?
This is the Peugeot 5008, which ushers in a new era of design for the company. Goodbye gaping-mouthed grille, hello toned-down conformity.
Of course, the real lookers are still to come, but the 5008 is the first step of easing into a new design era that might - eventually - get us excited about Peugeots again.
The 5008 is the straight-laced offspring of the quirkier-by-far Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, whose underpinnings it sits on, and whose clever touches such as its seven-seat arrangement and good use of cubby space it borrows.
With the tried-and-tested underpinnings of the Citroen, and a bespoke Peugeot tune to give it driver appeal, this might be the first desirable Peugeot in some time.
What’s it like?
There’s no doubt the Citroen has more charm, but the Peugeot has an aura of quality both inside and out.
The look may be solid and unspectacular, but it sits well on a family oriented vehicle such as an MPV. Inside, it’s a similar story. The dash is as conventional as you could imagine, but it makes up with quality materials what it lacks in show-off styling.
Only the jet fighter-style heads-up display that pops out from ahead of the steering wheel offers anything out of the ordinary, but even that’s soon cast to the back of your mind as a useful but overly theatrical device that borders on being a gimmick.
The best bits of the Citroen cabin remain: the clever seven-seat arrangement, the three middle seats that slide and recline, all those cubby holes and the long, flat load area that opens out when you fold away the five rearmost seats with surprising ease. It’s still true, however, that those rearmost seats are best for short journeys or small kids, and that a driver with a baby child seat behind them will be squeezed.
There are areas where the Citroen retains the upper hand, though. A panoramic roof on our model helped give the cabin an airy feeling, but its no match for the Picasso’s up-and-over windscreen and slimmer front pillars. The dash layout is also a touch fiddly; put the 5008 in first, third or fifth and some of the dash buttons are hard to get a finger to.
On UK roads the 5008’s differing character to the Citroen is just as obvious. Tweaked by Peugeot’s engineers, the 5008 offers more reward to the driver and, while it’s no S-Max, it is entertaining to push along in. The steering is well weighted and body roll is kept well in check for a car of these dimensions.
This does come at the cost of ride comfort, but the slightly firm and occasionally jiggly ride aren’t bad enough to be deal breakers for most people – especially as the cabin is so well insulated from all but the tiniest amount of wind and road noise. The Citroen’s softer set-up may suit some people more, but keen drivers will always opt for the Peugeot.
The 107bhp 1.6-litre diesel is just as compelling. Mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, it provides adequate pull under all conditions, even when the car is chock full with a family and their belongings for a Christmas break. Decent progress is possible without the engine without ever getting overly noisy or needing to be thrashed.