► Seven-seat SUV reaches UK autumn 2017
► Prices to start from around £24k
► Range of 1.2 and 1.6 turbo petrols, and 2.0 diesels
Here's a sign of the times: the Peugeot 5008 has been reincarnated as an SUV, having spent its previous life as an MPV collecting dust in showroom corners.
Rest in peace seven-seat people carrier, welcome seven-seat 4x4 (not that four-wheel drive will be available) with epic space for people and packages, and a range of competitive engines.
The 5008 is basically a 190mm-stretched version of the 3008, Peugeot's distinctive and thoroughly decent five-seat SUV, but big brother will cost a couple of grand more model-for-model. Expect the entry price around £23,795, and UK deliveries beginning in September.
Big brother! Does that mean a leaden drive?
CAR drove the flagship model first, a 2.0-litre BlueHDI diesel with 180bhp, mated to the six-speed automatic transmission.
On Portuguese roads so potholed as to banish any longing for home, the taut 5008 HDI serves up a busy, uncomfortable ride, often triggering an unsettling aftershock of pitch. And the 3008's most engaging dynamic attribute, its responsive, sweetly weighted steering, feels like it's been filled with concrete. Sacre bleu!
The diesel engine remains smooth and adequately hushed, with sufficient acceleration: it's the quickest 5008 - just - with 0-62mph in 9.1secs. The automatic transmission intuitively hangs onto second and third gear on coastal roads more up and down than Arsenal's form, but throttle response could be snappier, particularly upon kickdown. There's a sport button to remedy that, mind you.
For the record, combined fuel consumption is 58.8mpg, and this 5008 emits 124g/km of carbon dioxide.
Shame. Does a petrol engine redeem the 5008?
Oh yes, it feels like a different animal. The top spec diesel in plush GT trim (wonderfully quilted leather/polished steel/appealing pale wood) weighs a hefty 220 kilos more than the base 1.2-litre manual turbo, and the HDI has a distinct, firmer set of springs and dampers, to go with its 19in rims.
Jump into the 1.2 Puretech petrol using the same auto 'box, and the difference is instantly apparent. Turn the wheel (the shape of a fifty pence piece and not much bigger), and the nose responds more eagerly, with a lighter touch and less springy resistance. The ride, on 18-inch rims, is also far more settled, fluidly absorbing the crevices and crests, and with superior body control. The 1.2 just feels so much more nimble, for which you can partly credit the commendably light, 1317kg kerbweight.
And that means the three-cylinder turbocharged engine can cope with the longer SUV's demands, almost all of the time. Two up, the mid-range feels a bit wheezy on the hills (note to Snowdonia dwellers) but otherwise the engine retains the spritely, propulsive urge familiar from the Citroën C3, though its goading three-cylinder soundtrack is down in the mix. Throttle response is a bit woolly (resort to the sport button), while manual shifts from the hollow plastic paddles aren't the snappiest.
Where the 5008 excels is in its refinement. Wind noise is extremely well suppressed, and tyre grumble is made as welcome as Romanian caterers at a Brexiteer's birthday party. Impressive stuff.
What's it like inside?
That sense of civility is enhanced by a cockpit that lavishes space on its occupants. The second row of seats, usefully of identical size so you can get three child seats abreast, has more legroom than a business class flight.
A pull of the handle at squab level, and the seat folds flat, making it easier to clamber into the rearmost seats. Get your mid-rowers to share their legroom, and there's sufficient space for a six-footer to wedge his feet under the seat ahead and cope with a half-hour journey.
Peugeot reckons it’s got the packaging all wrapped up against the competition of Land Rover Discovery Sport, Skoda Kodiaq, Nissan X-Trail and Hyundai Santa Fe, boasting the most generous ratio of wheelbase and trunk considering its (compact-ish) 4641mm length.
Blessed with a low sill, the boot is certainly vast: 952 litres behind the second row of seats. Yank a little lever, and you can even remove seats six and seven, saving the day when unexpected BBQ guests arrive or freeing up two more pockets of 40 stowage litres. Stripped down in this way and with the middle three seats folded, you can cram in 2150 litres of junk.
Up front, the dashboard architecture is identical to the 3008's, with Peugeot's sophisticated i-Cockpit control system standard in the UK. A 12.3-inch screen renders digital dials, which you can supplement or replace with your choice of information such as 3D navigation or safety feature displays. It’s complemented by an 8in central touchscreen, with pinch and zoom function, and eight metallic shortcut keys which make it a cinch to use – once you’ve mastered Peugeot’s quirky submenu filing system.
Standard equipment includes Mirrorlink to access smartphone functions on the move, plus speed sign recognition, automatic emergency braking and distance alert. Lane keeping assist and blindspot detection enter at the second trim level, Allure, while nifty automated cruise control which aggressively centres the car in its lane, and massage seats, are standard on top spec GT models. Advanced Grip Control, a two-wheel drive take on Land Rover’s Terrain Response to manage traction on different surfaces such as mud or sand, is optional.
Having been a late developer in the SUV field – 26 million sold in the world last year, French execs note while trying not to rub their hands together with glee – Peugeot will have small, mid-size and seven-seat SUVs on sale by the autumn. The 5008 will be the smallest in volume, but it’s competing in a much less crowded market.
If you discount (good luck) the more expensive Land Rover Discovery Sport and the older Nissan X-Trail, it’s a fight to the death between the polished Skoda and the 5008. The pragmatic Skoda Kodiaq is the default choice if you need four-wheel drive, but the Peugeot has more flair, a marginally better package and the edge on refinement. And with an extended VW Tiguan coming this year, ‘compact’ seven-seat SUV buyers have never had it so good.