Tow car test: Peugeot 5008
Model tested Bluehdi 150 GT Line Price £31,765 Kerbweight 1565kg*
Does an SUV without four-wheel drive really cut it at this price point?
The new Peugeot 5008 marks a big change from its MPV predecessor. There are still seven seats inside, but instead of the no-nonsense practicality of a traditional people-carrier, the new 5008 has the tough and chunky looks of a 4x4. Appearances can be deceptive, though, because all 5008 models are front-wheel drive to keep weight down and improve economy and emissions. We’re testing the 150PS (148bhp) Bluehdi diesel in high-spec GT Line trim.
What are we looking for?
Will owners of the old 5008 find the new car as practical as the old? And does an SUV without four-wheel drive really cut it at this price point? More importantly, how well does it tow a caravan?
The 5008 is an interesting concept, and perhaps the shape of things to come. We’re used to smaller crossovers which ape the appearance of an off-roader but which send power to two wheels rather than four. However, it’s unusual for a larger SUV to not even have the option of four-wheel drive. Being front-wheel drive contributes to a low kerbweight of 1565kg (including 75kg for the driver which Peugeot doesn’t include in its published figure). It’s worth noting that Peugeot also publishes a mass in service, which takes into account the weight of additional options. Well-equipped cars are likely to be closer to this figure of 1656kg. Either figure is on the low side compared to the Peugeot’s likely rivals. The Škoda Kodiaq 2.0 TDI 150PS manual has a kerbweight of 1705kg-1905kg, depending on specification, and Kia quotes a kerbweight range of 1932kg to 2082kg for the Sorento with a manual gearbox. So if you have a large, multiberth caravan to go with your large, seven-seat SUV, matching ratios will be more favourable if you choose one of the 5008’s competitors. Working from the Peugeot’s kerbweight of 1565kg gives an 85% match figure of 1330kg. That’s not a lot for a seven-seat SUV. The maximum noseweight of just 72kg is also on the low side, and closer to what we’d expect of a family hatchback. It will take care to avoid overloading. We matched the Peugeot to our Bailey Unicorn Cabrera with its MIRO of 1377kg. For the most part the 2.0-litre diesel tows a tourer of this weight well; the 30-60mph time of 14.4 seconds is respectable. However, you’ll need to change gear quite often to keep up with the ebb and flow of traffic while towing. The engine is rather flat at low revs, and gets quite breathless at the top of the rev range. On the motorway we had to change down from sixth to fifth to keep up momentum on inclines. In general, the 5008 feels stable at speed. However,
relatively soft suspension allowed the car to be unsettled slightly by bumpy bends or when overtaking high-sided vehicles. We never felt at all nervous towing with the 5008, but we were conscious that the caravan’s movements weren’t quite as firmly in check as they would have been when towing with a Sorento or VW Tiguan. Our test drive took place in changeable weather, with a damp surface for the lanechange and hill start but a largely dry track for the braking test. We half-expected the 5008 to struggle with the hill start, but considering it only sends power to the front wheels, the Peugeot coped well. The e-brake held firm and released cleanly, and the car pulled to the top of the 1-in-10 gradient without any wheelspin or undue clutch slip. In the emergency braking test, the stopping distance of 11.1 metres from 30mph is about what we’d have expected. That rather sums up the 5008 as a tow car. It’s there or thereabouts in most respects, but there are heavier rivals which do the job better.
The 5008 has one or two quirks, but it’s a pleasant car to drive every day. You sit behind an unusually small but thick-rimmed steering wheel and view the instruments over it rather than through it. The steering is very sensitive, something you become used to but which feels a little strange on first acquaintance. The rapid response to the wheel is a little at odds with the rest of the car’s personality, which is more laid back. At low speeds the suspension is sometimes caught out by sharp bumps, but on the open road the ride settles to a smooth and relaxed gait. The odd grumpy clatter from the diesel engine aside, the 5008 is refined and civilised at speed, with road and wind noise well within sensible levels. Over-shoulder visibility isn’t great, but with parking sensors front and rear, and a reversing camera on Allure spec and above, that’s not as much of an issue as it might be. Clearly, being a front-wheeldrive car, the 5008 is not going to be as capable off-road as many SUVS. However, the Peugeot can be specified with Advanced Grip Control as a £470 option.
Space and practicality
The cabin is what really makes the 5008 stand out. It’s bold, distinctive and very practical. Think of the 5008 as an MPV disguised as an SUV and you won’t go far wrong. The dramatic dashboard makes the interior of most rivals look staid. There’s a mixture of surface textures and finishes, but it all comes together as a cohesive and appealing whole. Instead of conventional instruments, there’s a configurable screen in front of the driver. It can be set up to show conventional dials, or to prioritise other information such as sat-nav directions. A separate touchscreen sits to the left of the driver, although the short-cut buttons are some way below the screen and hard to use without taking your eyes away from the road. Storage is generous, and we found it easy enough to find a comfortable driving position. Our test car came with heated leather seats with a massaging function for the driver, but they’re a pricey £1990. Sit in the second row and you’ll spot one of the advantages of front-wheel drive: there’s no chunky floor transmission tunnel to get in the way. There are three individual seats in the middle row and they slide back and forth independently. Predictably, the third row of seats are better suited to children than adults, although if those in the centre row don’t mind giving up a little bit of legroom, grown-ups should cope on short journeys. Just as predictably, the boot is tiny with all the seats upright, with a capacity of just 166 litres to the level of the parcel shelf. Lower the third row and there’s a huge 952 litres. You can take the rearmost seats out for even more room. The middle row folds flat, too, as does the front passenger seat if you have a really long load to carry. We’d award the 5008’s cabin an even higher score if it wasn’t for the optional panoramic glass roof (£870) fitted to our test car. This severely restricts headroom, in the second row in particular.
Buying and owning
Given that GT Line spec is one down from the top of the range, £31,765 is a reasonable price. According to What Car?’s Target Price, you can expect to pay less than £30,000 if you haggle. Standard kit includes leather-effect/cloth seat trim, a smartphone charging plate, a six-speaker stereo, sat nav, dual-zone climate control and LED headlights. A detachable towball with 13-pin electrics and Trailer Sway Mitigation is reasonably priced at £550. We achieved an impressive 28.5mpg towing on A-roads and motorways, while the official combined figure for solo driving is 61.4mpg. Both are better than the 5008’s 4x4 rivals.
We achieved close to 30mpg while towing with the frontwheel-drive Peugeot 5008
A kerbweight of 1565kg gives an 85% match figure of 1330kg