Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock, you’ll probably have noticed that the MPV segment has been undergoing something of a crisis lately. Gone are the days when affordability and practicality were the only considerations when buying a seven-seater; luxury, refinement and stylish looks are now just as important to most buyers. Thus sales of SUVs have increased significantly, while those of MPVs have crashed.
Peugeot is well aware of this, and instead of ignoring the trend like other French brands (see the Citroën Grand C4 Picasso and Renault Grand Scénic), it has embraced it; the original Peugeot 5008 was a traditional, boxy MPV, but this new second-generation model is quite firmly in the SUV camp, and a rival to the likes of the Skoda Kodiaq and cheaper Land Rover Discovery Sport models.
Taking styling cues from the smaller 3008 and Peugeot’s Quartz concept car of 2014, the new 5008 looks far tougher than its predecessor, which should go a long way towards helping it to appeal to a wider audience. But there's more to it than just aesthetics.
Along with its new look, the 5008 is now significantly longer and wider, which translates to more knee and shoulder room for passengers. And unlike most rival SUVs, it offers three separate second-row seats to improve comfort and practicality.
What's the 2017 Peugeot 5008 like to drive?
Like other modern Peugeots, the 5008 has a very small steering wheel. Indeed, at just 351mm wide and 329mm tall, it’s the smallest wheel on the market, and is designed to give the driver a clearer view of the car's fancy digital instruments – which it does rather successfully, we might add. But shrinking the size of the wheel also serves another, arguably more important purpose: sharpening up the steering response.
The concept is rather simple: the smaller the wheel, the less you need to turn it to get the car to turn. But in reality, it's something that can take some getting used to. On the demanding Portuguese country roads we tested the car on, we found ourselves applying too much lock at first, causing the front end to dive rather aggressively into corners. It’s not what you’d call a disconcerting characteristic, but you do need to be careful with your inputs, something that feels rather at odds with a car of this size.
That said, if you do throw the 5008 into a corner, body lean is surprisingly well contained. And no matter how hard you provoke it, it’s the front tyres that will wash wide first, so there’s no danger of getting caught out by any scary handling characteristics. Sadly, no 5008 gets four-wheel drive, but Grip Control (an electronic system designed to improve traction), mud and snow tyres, and a hill descent control function are all options.
When it comes to ride comfort, the 5008 is noticeably softer than its rivals. Crests and compressions result in pronounced but well-controlled vertical movements, and even mid-corner bumps are tackled with relative impunity. Road scars, ruts and potholes present a larger challenge, causing the car to feel unsettled at times, but it’s not severe enough to elicit complaints from passengers.
Our test car was powered by Peugeot’s 2.0-litre BlueHDi diesel engine. Producing 148bhp, it has more than adequate shove for building up to motorway speeds quickly, and on our hilly test route, it demonstrated impressive low-revs pull. More crucially, however, no matter how hard you push it, it's always smooth, letting little noise into the car (provided you don’t press the Sport button).
What's the 2017 Peugeot 5008 like inside?
Peugeot’s i-Cockpit dashboard layout won the Technology Award at our 2017 Car of the Year Awards, due to the fact that it’s simple to use, fully customisable and a great safety aid. Unsurprisingly, none of those attributes have changed here. The 12.3in digital instrument cluster looks perfectly at home in the 5008’s futuristic interior, with its impressively sharp graphics displaying information in a clear and attractive manner.
But it’s not just front passengers that are treated to clever design. Sitting in the second row, it’s immediately obvious that you get more space than in the previous model, and head and leg room are up with the best cars in class. True, the third row is less accommodating – adults and teenagers will have to cower somewhat to keep their heads from brushing the rooflining – but space is no worse than in similarly sized rivals.
However, the 5008’s real party piece is its seating flexibility. The car’s two rearmost seats can be folded down into the boot floor or removed altogether, freeing up more space in the already large boot. You should be able to transport the family and all their luggage with room to spare.
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