MAKE AN IM­PRES­SION

Peu­geot’s seven-seat SUV blurs the lines and comes with typ­i­cal quirks

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - MOTORING - JOSHUA DOWL­ING

Com­ing to a pri­vate school near you ... Peu­geot has joined the sev­enseat SUV brigade with its new 5008. To stand out from the crowd, the French maker adds a suite of tech­nol­ogy unique to the class.

The head­line act is an op­tional elec­tric scooter, de­signed to save your feet if you can’t park close to your des­ti­na­tion, but will prob­a­bly be com­man­deered by the kids.

The light­weight (8.5kg) fold­ing scooter charges via a dock­ing sta­tion or the 12V power sup­ply in the boot, has up to 12km of scoot­ing range, a top speed of 25km/h and can be recharged in an hour.

The car in­dus­try has been toy­ing with elec­tric scoot­ers as the an­swer to mega cities of the fu­ture, usu­ally dis­play­ing them in the boot of elec­tric car con­cepts. Peu­geot, re­al­is­ing there is no rea­son to wait, has jumped the field.

New from the ground up, the 5008 bears no re­sem­blance to its pre­de­ces­sor, a peo­ple­mover with the same badge. This one is a stretched ver­sion of the five-seat 3008 SUV, so the rear doors are big­ger, there’s more leg room for sec­ond-row seats and a big­ger boot.

Other points of vive la dif­fer­ence: Peu­geot has rev­o­lu­tionised the owner’s man­ual with a vir­tual re­al­ity app – point your phone’s cam­era at a par­tic­u­lar part of the car and it will open the on­line hand­book to the ap­pro­pri­ate page.

Couldn’t be both­ered fig­ur­ing out the app? Just touch on an il­lus­tra­tion of the car in a sim­pler ver­sion of the app for the same re­sult.

How­ever, Peu­geot has saved its clever­est trick for the rear. The sec­ond row seats slide in­di­vid­u­ally to pri­ori­tise leg room over cargo space or vice versa.

Each seat in the sec­ond and third rows folds sep­a­rately, mak­ing it eas­ier to squeeze in the kids with cargo of odd shapes. Each mid­dle row seat has Isofix child seat mount­ing points; most cars have only two.

All five aft seats can be folded to cre­ate a flat load area, and the two seats in the third row can be re­moved al­to­gether in about 15 se­conds, and re­in­stalled just as quickly without do­ing your back in – the in­ge­niously sim­ple pews weigh just 11kg each.

On the safety side there are six airbags, in­clud­ing cur­tain airbags all the way to the third row.

Other mod cons in­clude a fu­tur­is­tic dash­board de­sign, a fancy widescreen dig­i­tal in­stru­ment dis­play that was once the pre­serve of lux­ury cars and a 360-de­gree cam­era on all mod­els.

How­ever, here’s where some of the Peu­geot’s quirk­i­ness starts to lose its lus­tre.

The cam­era im­ages are like an im­pres­sion­ist paint­ing, blurred rather than crys­tal clear as on other cars, and the cen­tral touch­screen, although nice to look at, is chron­i­cally flawed in its de­sign.

To ad­just the bright­ness of the screen takes sev­eral an­noy­ing steps, tak­ing your eyes off the road. And the bright­ness of the

in­stru­ment panel and the dis­play screen can’t be changed sep­a­rately.

If you switch ra­dio sta­tions or ad­just the vol­ume, the screen comes on again even af­ter the “black out” but­ton is pressed. It then re­quires another press to switch it off again. Very dis­tract­ing.

ON THE ROAD

There are three mod­els and two en­gine op­tions. The Al­lure and GT are powered by a 1.6-litre turbo four. The flag­ship GT-Line comes with a 2.0-litre turbo diesel. In each, a six-speed auto drives the front wheels. “Ter­rain re­sponse” soft­ware that aims to give the 5008 some mod­est off-road abil­ity is a $200 op­tion.

For now, you can’t mix and match model grades. How­ever the petrol vari­ants are the sweet spots in the range given their rel­a­tive af­ford­abil­ity, drive­abil­ity and real world fuel-ef­fi­ciency. The diesel re­ally only makes sense for those do­ing a lot of high­way driv­ing. Per­versely it’s matched to a nois­ier 19-inch wheel and tyre com­bi­na­tion, which also make you feel the bumps more than you do in the petrol vari­ants on 18s.

Peu­geot’s sig­na­ture small steer­ing wheel is an ad­van­tage in tight city streets but can feel too di­rect on a wind­ing back road, es­pe­cially given the­car’s size and weight.

VER­DICT

The 5008 de­serves a test drive for any­one shop­ping for a clev­erly thought out sev­enseat SUV. How­ever, while you’re dar­ing to be dif­fer­ent, be sure to sam­ple a Skoda Ko­diaq, Kia Sorento or a run-out Hyundai Santa Fe, all of which have sharper prices and longer war­ranties.

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