A year ago Peugeot pulled off a masterstroke when it transformed the 3008 MPV into the 3008 SUV.
Not only did the acclaimed new 3008 turn heads, it also featured the French giant’s game-changing digital i-Cockpit and won the 2017 European Car of the Year award.
Now, a year on, Peugeot’s trying the same trick with an SUV version of the venerable 5008 people carrier, but can the magic work second time round?
Well, there’s no doubt that the new car has loads more road presence than the outgoing model.
It’s clearly the attractive 3008 SUV’s big brother, but it’s been down to the gym and sports more muscular haunches. Sporting Peugeot’s new front end and light signature, naturally it also proudly features the French car giant’s lion emblem.
In looks it veers from the 3008 at the rear where it’s more squared off, though your eye is drawn to Peugeot SUVs’ distinctive “claw effect” LED lights.
The new 5008 SUV oozes space, comfort and quality inside, both up front and for rear seat passengers. Unlike some seven seaters, it’s even possible for adults (up to six foot) to sit in the third row. I should know, because I tried it.
It’s versatile too with three separate, folding, sliding seats in the second row and two removable, folding seats in the third row. It has the biggest boot capacity with 1,060 litres. Fold the second row flat and this increases the load space to 2,150 litres, while the front passenger seat also folds, boosting the load length to 3.2 metres.
Peugeot does things differently and nowhere is that more apparent than for the driver and front seat passenger.
Like the 3008, it features the impressive i-Cockpit complete with compact steering wheel, 8.0-inch touchscreen in the centre console and 12.3-inch digital dashboard ahead of the driver.
Again, below the centre touchscreen, there’s a row of satin-metal piano keys for short-cut switching between screen functions, including climate, navigation and smartphone without having to scroll through various menus.
Slick, colourful and intuitive, i-Cockpit is standard across the range which starts at £24,495.
Elsewhere, it’s clear that Peugeot is pushing upmarket, thanks to its use of soft-touch plastics and general high build quality, plus optional extras including seat massaging, mood lighting and in-car aromas.
There are four trim levels – Active, Allure, GT Line and GT – and it’s available with a range of efficient petrol and diesel engines.
Kicking off with 128bhp and 163bhp PureTech petrol engines (1.2 and 1.6-litre), there are also 99, 118, 148 and 178bhp BlueHDi diesels (1.6 and 2.0-litre). There’s a choice of six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes, though no four-wheel drive option is available.
I tested models fitted with the 1.2 PureTech 130, which is expected to be the biggest seller, plus the 1.6 BlueHDi 120.
Step inside and naturally the new 5008 SUV features a commanding driving position – it’s also very comfortable and refined.
Despite its dimensions, it doesn’t feel big to drive, all-round visibility is good and it’s surprisingly nimble with light steering and well-controlled body roll.
A 128bhp 1.2 three cylinder petrol engine seems inconceivably small and underpowered for a seven-seater, but it’s a gutsy performer. Push it and the familiar thrum is evident, but Peugeot’s done such a great job on sound insulation that most would never guess what’s under the bonnet.
For the record, this version is good for 0-62mph in 10.9 seconds, a 117mph top speed and 55.4mpg, though expect closer to 45mpg in real world driving.
If you want a little more refinement and economy, then go for the diesel. The 118bhp 1.6-litre has more than enough poke for most with a 0-62mph time of 12.8 seconds and a 113mph maximum speed. It’s capable of 61.4mpg on paper, and 50mpg should be achievable in everyday driving.
The diesel is a relaxed cruiser, especially when matched with the automatic transmission, and probably the better option if you spend hours on motorways, while the 2.0-litre would suit those that tow regularly.
Peugeot isn’t pretending the 5008 is a serious off-roader, but Advanced Grip Control – which improves traction – and Hill Assist Descent Control are options, and of course, there’s that extra ground clearance.
Finally, with a maximum five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating, thanks in part to autonomous emergency braking (standard across the range) and other driver assistance systems, the 5008 is a safe car.
It’s up against some tough competition, including the Skoda Kodiaq, Nissan X-Trail, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe, so it has to be good, and frankly it’s hard to fault, as long as you’re not looking for a 4X4.
Verdict: The new Peugeot 5008 is a class act with a real quality feel. Well made, versatile, surprisingly sporty to drive and economical, it should be on everyone’s big SUV shortlist.