Why Peugeot's 5008 is like José Mourinho's subs' bench
Seven-seater gives you key options
You know, or have heard, José Mourinho, I'm sure. The Manchester United manager can talk a lot of codswallop and the football he has overseen has been dire. But something he said recently makes real sense of, and puts context around, this week's review car.
He was explaining why a certain player wasn't on the substitutes' bench. He outlined how he needed a back-up keeper, midfielder, defender and forward so that as many eventualities as possible were covered should injury strike or circumstances demand. So there was no room for yer man.
The Peugeot 5008 SUV is a bit like United's subs' bench. It is designed to be strategically available. Not all of its seven seats will be used all the time by the vast majority. But sometimes they will. And that's when the capacity to take six passengers will be relished. (I'm tempted to say some of the United players would fit perfectly in the 5008 - a few of have been little more than passengers this season.)
The 5008's third row of seats is for the smaller children, or accommodating luggage when the seats are folded flat or taken out altogether.
This is an interesting car, though it is not, by a long shot, what I regard as a good-looking motor. Many disagree with me. I don't care. I don't like the look of it much. Why raise such a matter at this stage? Because looks, we are told, are one of the reasons SUVs are so popular.
More importantly, however, if you take a look at the Facts&Figures panel, you'll see the heavy emphasis on family-oriented equipment such as ISOFIX child-seat mountings, child-lock second row doors and so on. This is a big, family car and Peugeot, cleverly, have transformed it from its previous 'people-carrier' status to the current in-demand SUV genre in one fell swoop. In so doing, they have managed to blend most of the best of both worlds.
It's a new body on a new platform and at 4.641m metres is 11cm longer. Sadly, I don't have candidates for occupancy of the rear-seat row any more but I did push and flip the second row to create space for access to the back. And I went through the motions of folding seats flat and all that. All worked well but there is no point in me saying so; if you're thinking of buying a seven-seater like this, you've got to try it out for yourself. Additionally, I found the tailgate opened wide and the loading sill was mercifully low. The second-row passengers are well looked after.
And as a driver, I must acknowledge a brilliant seating position. I am a huge fan of the i-Cockpit system with its mini steering wheel and clear vision of key data. Seven switches ('piano keys') give quick access to the central 8ins touchscreen's functions; and there are remote controls on the steering wheel. Another USB would have helped - though it's only fair to point to the numerous sockets, blinds, aeroplane trays, hooks, cup holders and storage spaces (38 litres) around the cabin.
They've used the space well and lots of what make the smaller 3008SUV the award winner it is, are carried over here. It's big brother with seven seats really. While the same height, it is 19cm longer than the 3008. And it's the 16.5cm increased wheelbase that paves the way for the third row of seats.
I have my criticisms, apart from looks. The start button was frustrating at times; there were occasions I wasn't sure if the 'ignition' was on or not. And the boot is really small with the third row of seats up. This is a natural outcome of, and complaint about, cars such as this (its rival Skoda Kodiaq is a case in point), but it's important you are aware of it. Significantly, there's great boot space when just two rows of seats are used.
And it was a lovely, comfortable drive, snug and easy against the winter cold. I wouldn't demand great dynamics from it but I would take my hat off to how the 1.6-litre diesel performed. I had reservations about it being capable of shunting this large motor around. But it had good reserves of pulling power, I did not have to overly use the gear-shift and noise insulation was excellent. There is a nice 1.2-litre 3cyl 130bhp petrol, too.
I don't know what I'd do with a car like this if it didn't have parking aids. It's not that it's so big, it's just that many spaces feel so cramped - a bit like United's penalty area when José's teams 'park the bus' in blanket defensive mode.
Which brings me back to strategic availability. Do you really need a seven-seater just to have occasional seating? Up to 18 months ago I would have wavered on that. But such has been the volume of enquiries from people looking for a secondhand/new 7-seater (of any description - MPV or SUV) that I am convinced this is one of the big growth areas.
Like Mr Mourinho, people wish to have, and regularly need, the option of more. I think the 5008 SUV gives them one of the better options.
FACTS & FIGURES
Peugeot 5008 SUV GT Line 1.6 BlueHDi diesel 120bhp 6spd manual (€190 road tax, 108g/km). Price: €38,275. Range starts: €29,345
Test-car spec includes: 3 ISOFIX child-seat fittings (2nd row), child-locking rear windows/doors; third-row seats removable; cruise control, spare wheel, dual-zone climate control, electric parking brake; iCockpit (small steering wheel/head-up display/8ins touch screen, etc); automatic emergency braking (AEB), distance alert, driver attention alert, 180-deg reversing camera (Park Assist - parallel and row), panoramic glass roof; leather effect + cloth seat trim, 18ins alloys.