THINK Peugeot, think French and with it, the tag of being different. A bit quirky, perhaps and not following the well-worn track.
In 2018, Peugeot released a new-generation 3008 and an all-new 5008 that fell comfortably into what Australians consider the SUV genre, but the French twist is that the pair are more like traditional station wagons than our interpretation of an SUV.
The wagons are designed precisely for the purpose of hauling families in comfort and safety, able to store large cargo volume with ease and return a decent amount of driver satisfaction. There is even some semblance of coping away from a bitumen road.
Park this at the curb on a busy street and passers-by will barely raise an eyebrow. The 5008 is classy, yet decidedly un-French by conservative lines that border on panel-van simplicity.
It’s attractive by virtue of its simple design and that holds the promise for a cabin that is roomy, well crafted, rich in features and inviting.
In the flesh it looks small and low, though the impression that it sits low on the ground is incorrect, boasting a liberal 230mm ground clearance (the Outlander is 190mm) though a lot of that is attributed to its uncluttered underbody thanks to the lack of a rear drivetrain.
The rear doors are long to allow for better access to the rear seats and loading equipment while improving accessibility to baby seats and capsules.
The tail gate is manual (electric on the two higher grades) and the opening is both tall and wide, with minimal intrusion from the pillars.
The 5008 seats seven and has a cavernous interior predominantly because of its upright styling. This box shape allows a cargo volume 780 litres (third floor flat) though this expands to 952 litres when the second row is slid forward.
Fold the second row down and there’s a whopping 2060 litres of space available. The Outlander’s measurements are 477/1608 litres, showing the advantages of the less stylish box design of the Peugeot.
I fitted two mountain bikes with 29-inch wheels into the rear of the 5008 without needing to remove the wheels. A week earlier, the same experiment on a Lexus LX570 4WD was more awkward and required a lot of juggling to fit the bikes.
The front passenger seats also folds flat for even more room. Further, the third row of seats can be individually removed, creating a handy well for more cargo. The middle row gets air vents and even two fold-down table tops.
Obviously the same benefits of the body shape extends to the occupants, with the three individual seats in the second row having excellent leg and headroom but a little close to the doors.
Third row seats are designed for young kids, maybe teenagers, though I – at 1.77m – squeezed myself in and out without drama, with the main complaint being lack of foot room.
There’s good personal storage space, with a decent glovebox, cupholders, centre console with lid, door pockets and further room ahead of the gear shifter.
Dash design is excellent – trim, neat, easy to use with a large 8.0-inch touchscreen backed up by piano-key switches.
The instrument panel sits high above the dash line, and in what has become a Peugeot trademark, above the steering wheel. So the driver has a go-kart driving position, not high in the seat but comfortably above the controls and with excellent vision to the gauges within the 12.3-inch screen.
It is as good as head-up display gets without having numerals reflected in the windscreen and it creates one of the best seating positions around.
Helping that is the unusual flattened hexagon steering wheel design, part of Peugeot’s i-Cockpit design language.
The Allure is the entry-level version and yet has more than sufficient features to make it stand out as the value buy of the 5008 range.
Standard kit includes leather upholstery, digital radio with six speakers (common to all grades), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and 18-inch alloy wheels.
It misses out on heated and massage front seats and an electric tail gate, which are standard on the other grades.
ENGINE and DRIVE:
The 5008 inherits the taut EMP2 platform shared with the 308 hatch and 3008 wagon.
It also picks up the 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine rated at 121kW at 6000rpm and torque of 240Nm at 1400rpm. It is mated to a six-speed automatic, then drives the front wheels – only – through a drive-mode program called Grip Control allowing electronic control of the engine, transmission and brakes.
The selection is the choice of road, mud/snow, sand, rocks and traction control off.
What it does is mimic what the Land Rover Discovery does with its Terrain Response dial, only Peugeot applies the same tech to just the front wheels.
Surprisingly, dial in mud and it took with ease up a wet gravel track. As the track moved to firm sand, selecting the sand-mode perhaps made the journey easier. Sure, it’s no 4WD but it’s a helpful aid particularly when the vehicle is on wet or slippery surfaces and is loaded.
The petrol engine is smooth, quiet and relatively responsive, suffering only with some hesitancy on accelerating from low revs.
Once on the boil, it’s a well-balanced engine that suits the modest sporty intent of the wagon. The gearbox is also fine for the purpose, though the fuel consumption – claimed at an average of 7.3 L/100km – only came up as an 8.8 L/100km average. Not bad but not brilliant either.
Ride comfort is excellent as is noise levels, though coarse bitumen can make the Michelins howl.
Steering is really good, with positive turn-in and plenty of feedback – well, more than most rivals – to make the journey fun. It is an exceptionally easy wagon to drive and one that has high rewards.
Peugeot retains the MacPherson front end in combination with its traditional torsion beam axle at the back, with coils all around. Much comment is made about the improved ride and handling offered by the more complex – and expensive – multi-link rear suspension layout.
But Peugeot has repeatedly shown that a torsion beam rear axle for its front-drive vehicles can work just as well – without the complexity, cost and space-robbing design – with great comfort and handling. Witness the 205 GTI and 308 GTI hot hatches – no-one said they need multi-link to improve handling.
Standard is the now mandatory autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system with active cruise control, lane departure warning, speed-limit recognition and distance warning is standard on the Allure, though it misses out on blind-spot monitor, driver attention detection and high-beam assist that are featured in the other grades.
But the Allure does get heated and electric mirrors, park sensors front and rear, a 360-degree camera, and park assist for 90-degree and parallel parking.
It is not yet crash tested by ANCAP though there are signs it will be a five-star vehicle. It also has six airbags, including curtain airbags that cover the third row.
- So much space
- Great dash layout
- Smooth, quiet engine
NOT SO GOOD BITS:
- Average fuel economy
- Modest engine power
- No all-wheel drive
What a surprise package. The more I drove this, the more it made sense. It is an easy car to live with, has a fantastic versatile cabin – with room to lay down two big bikes without having to disassemble them – and has an aura of quality. I like the fact that it has a sensible blend of features and that it is a car that doesn’t have pretense. Would I buy one? Absolutely.
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FACTS AND FIGURES: 2019 PEUGEOT 5008 ALLURE
- Engine: 1.6 L 4Cyl Turbo Petrol producing 121kW/240Nm
- Transmission: FWD 6 speed Auto
- Warranty: 5 Yr./ Unlimited km with 5 Yr. roadside assist
- Safety: NA
- Origin: France
- Price: from $44,490 MLP*
*MLP – Manufacturers List Price includes GST and LCT but excluding statutory charges, dealer costs and dealer delivery. See your dealer for RDAP. Does not include price of any options.