French re­dis­cover the abil­ity to build a fine breeder bus

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - NATHAN PONCHARD

The re­nais­sance con­tin­ues, this time with en­fants in tow

AGAINST all ex­pec­ta­tions, the le­gendary brood­haul­ing abil­ity of Peu­geot’s fa­mous ‘Fa­mil­iale’ sta­tion wag­ons of the past has some­how resur­faced in this new-gen­er­a­tion peo­ple car­rier, the 5008. Not too big on the out­side, yet al­most Tardis-like on the in­side, it’s the seven-seat SUV for those who don’t want a bulky, dis­taste­ful 4WD.

There’s some­thing de­light­fully left-field about the Peu­geot 5008. It fea­tures the odd stylis­tic nod to the SUV set it’s try­ing to at­tract – cue the ‘bash-plate’ gar­nish on its front bumper and stat­uesque 1646mm height – yet the 5008 is a sleeker, more tautly drawn sev­enseater than ev­ery ri­val bar its Citroen Grand C4 Pi­casso rel­a­tive.

In­ge­niously, front-bumper and grille de­signs aside, the 5008 shares its en­tire struc­ture from the B-pil­lar for­ward with the smaller 3008 – driver-fo­cused, con­cept-car-like dash in­cluded. But what the 5008’s unique booty achieves is won­der­fully space-ef­fi­cient ac­com­mo­da­tion, fea­tur­ing three in­di­vid­ual buck­ets in the cen­tre row, each on fore-aft slid­ers, and a pair of rear seats that weigh just 11kg each and can be ef­fort­lessly re­moved by any­one who isn’t Vic­to­ria Beck­ham. And even with the cen­tre row maxed rear­ward, there’s 780 litres of boot space be­low the lug­gage cover.

The 5008’s sense of ad­ven­ture on nar­row, hilly dirt roads comes as quite a sur­prise, thanks to a re­spectable 230mm of ground clear­ance. And if that’s your cuppa, there’s an op­tional ‘grip con­trol’ sys­tem with snow, mud, sand and ‘ESP off’ modes, as well as hill-de­scent con­trol, though I doubt the front-drive 5008 would go far on Stock­ton beach.

What it does rel­ish is a flog­ging on twisty roads. Even the 1575kg 2.0-litre turbo-diesel – 100 kegs heav­ier than the 1.6-litre turbo-petrol – feels chuck­able in a way you’d al­most never de­scribe a seven-seat SUV, en­hanced by the flag­ship GT’S su­perb Con­ti­nen­tal 235/50R19 tyres. You don’t lose much in ride qual­ity on 19s ei­ther, though no 5008 feels plush. Even the base Al­lure on 225/55R18 Miche­lins rides firmly, with per­sis­tent tyre noise on coarse sur­faces per­vad­ing its oth­er­wisead­mirable sense of calm.

The ben­e­fit of this sus­pen­sion dis­ci­pline is a lovely flu­ency to the 5008’s han­dling and body con­trol. Its longer wheel­base im­bues it with a more re­laxed de­meanour than the 3008, yet there’s real poise in the way the sev­enseater’s (tor­sion beam) rear end wants to be part of the ac­tion. You can’t dis­count the size-re­duc­ing ben­e­fits of Peu­geot’s ‘i-cock­pit’ driv­ing po­si­tion ei­ther, blend­ing a su­perb steer­ing wheel with crisp

re­sponse and a tight 11.2m turn­ing cir­cle. It’s also nice to have a Sport mode that adds in­tel­li­gent weight to the steer­ing, rather than gluggy Play-doh.

Ar­guably the sweet­est piece of the 5008 ex­pe­ri­ence is its cabin am­bi­ence (see right), while the only no­table area of weak­ness is both en­gines, each dat­ing back well over a decade. Yet for all their lack of on-pa­per siz­zle, the tur­bopetrol and turbo-diesel fours are torquey, drive­able units that ef­fort­lessly com­ple­ment the 5008’s fluid dy­nam­ics. Dare I say it, I quite like the diesel’s am­pli­fied ‘Sport’ sound pump­ing through the GT’S gutsy stereo.

It’s quite dif­fi­cult to nom­i­nate any gen­uine flaws in the 5008. Even when fully op­tioned, a $58,740 GT seems pretty de­cent value. And there’s a char­ac­ter­ful, long-legged flavour to the 5008 that feels unashamedly French, and proudly Peu­geot.

De­spite a lack of cush­ion length, cen­tre row feels plusher than a Grand Pi­casso’s (rid­ing on the same 2840mm wheel­base), as well as eas­ier to op­er­ate, while the rear pair are tol­er­a­ble for adults, and am­ple for pre-teens. Peu­geot’s vastly im­proved 8.0-inch cen­tre touch­screen now works in com­bi­na­tion with a bunch of cool pi­ano-key fin­ger con­trols, and we love the trig­ger­grip trans­mis­sion lever, whose fu­tur­is­tic style isn’t at the ex­pense of func­tion. Al­lure’s hound­stooth trim with leatherette de­tail­ing is posh­lug­gage wor­thy, while mi­crofi­bre/ leatherette and op­tional Nappa leather in Gt-line and GT is even classier, gar­nished by ‘mouse fur’ in­serts span­ning the dash and door tops.

Model Peu­geot 5008 GT En­gine 1997cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, TD Max power 133kw @ 3750rpm Max torque 400Nm @ 2000rpm Trans­mis­sion 6-speed au­to­matic Weight 1575kg 0-100km/h 10.2sec (claimed) Econ­omy 4.8L/100km Price $52,990 On sale Now


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