Peugeot's perfect package
Published 03/04/2010 | 05:00
Not many cars, I suspect, can give you a whopping headache and still end up earning your praise. The Peugeot 5008 delivered a sitting count to the brother the other evening.
It was raining heavily and we were running late for a special 50th birthday meal. He is used to people carriers -- he has a Mitsubishi Grandis. But the Peugeot 5008 has a much more sharply raked roofline at the front and, merciful God, he didn't duck enough as he plunged in from the downpour.
There wasn't a word out of him for about five minutes (he made up for it later). Yet, to my pleasant surprise, by the time I had him back home in the early hours, he was totally won over by this mid-size people carrier. I had a feeling about this, from the first few minutes, that it was one to watch. So we can't say it was the bang on the head that affected the brother's judgment.
The 5008 has three rows of seats that will carry seven (tots to the rear obviously). And, of course, you can combine all sorts of seating/luggage combinations.
But it was the manner with which this vehicle accomplished its primary task -- of moving people and their accoutrements -- that had both of us, and several others, singing its praises. The brother's word most accurately captured what I was struggling to express. It 'glided' over the roads. Now, we broke no speed limits, I promise you, but we were surprised at how quickly we came back to the city lights.
I didn't expect some of my passengers to know there was a 1.6-litre diesel engine out there under the bonnet but at least three commented on how quiet it was. They were all the more surprised when I told them it was a diesel. It is a great little engine and I use the word 'little' on purpose because that's what it is. But with 110bhp and loads of pulling power (torque), I rarely had to dig down through the gears.
I would say the Toyota Verso -- a keen rival -- has the best gear change but I don't know of any other people carrier in this size or price bracket that makes travelling, even with a reasonable 'load' on board, seem so easy.
There is plenty of room in the cabin and the middle-row seats can be manipulated to create more. From a driver's perspective, the raking roofline has the enormous benefit of giving you a great arc of vision and visibility. Dials and instrumentation are clear, to hand and logical. With two exceptions. The pinhead buttons under the audio display are far, far too small. Thankfully the remote controls on the steering wheel meant I could ignore them.
Also, the speedometer does not have our 'normal' limits enumerated, so 110kmh and 130kmh are clearly numbered but 120kmh is a mere mark in between. That's just a bit annoying if you're driving on a 120kmh-limit motorway.
Two other small complaints. One is probably due to my size 10 shoes but when I rested the old left foot in the designated area, I caught it a few times on the rim of the clutch as I prepared to change gear. The other little whine was that I had to stoop a bit to open the rear tailgate. For all that, I drove this a good few hundred kilometres and never felt less than comfortable. The seating was broad and deep, and there was plenty of space between my elbows and the front passenger's. Three reasonably sized individuals could manage in the second row with toddlers happy enough, I'd say, in the back.
This is as good a package as there is out there, no doubt about that.
Peugeot may not have been the first name on people's minds when people carriers were mentioned but this will help change that.
For those who need to accommodate a growing family but like the feel and drive of a good car, this manages the difficult task of reconciling, in large measure, two often unmatchable attributes.
Just watch your head until you get used to getting into that front seat.