JOHANNESBURG – There's no denying the fact that when it comes to family vehicles, South Africans generally prefer mainstream SUVs and crossovers – and often bakkie-based SUVs when a seven-seater is required. That makes things tricky for manufacturers offering very competent family cars that happen to be viewed as somewhat left-field. A prime example is Peugeot’s 5008.

What’s new?

The 5008 slots in at the very summit of the French manufacturer’s local range of crossovers and SUVs, which includes the compact 2008 and the 3008 (the latter recently forming part of our long-term fleet). As the number suggests, the 5008 is the largest in the line-up, offering seven seats. These final two perches can be folded flat, resulting in a handy flat floor in the luggage compartment.

While looks are often subjective, at first glance the 5008 is easily one of the most stylish seven-seat vehicles I’ve driven of late. It is by no means small, but crucially doesn’t look like a bulky car from any angle. Indeed, the designers should be lauded for the cohesiveness of the vehicle's overall appearance.

The local range includes two 1,6-litre turbopetrol models (in Allure and GT Line guise), with the same trim levels also available with a 2,0-litre turbodiesel engine.

Behind the wheel

Our test unit was the entry-level (thus, Allure) 1,6-litre petrol model. But there's very little about that vehicle that would make you think it's a base model. The interior offers cloth finishes in certain areas, lending the cabin a cosy yet modern feel.

The front seats are some of the most comfortable and supportive units I’ve experienced this year, while the rest of the cabin is typical Peugeot. That means there are toggle-like buttons sited below the infotainment screen, a central divider between the driver and passenger pews and finally that small steering wheel which allows, in my case at least, an unobstructed view of the dials and screen.

This tiny tiller has a big effect on how the car feels to drive. For starters, it helps to make the car feel nimbler and very manoeuvrable, which is undoubtedly a benefit with a vehicle this size. Heading through Johannesburg traffic, parking in underground garages and negotiating narrow streets, I never once felt intimated by the size of the 5008.

And under the bonnet? Well, the 1,6-litre engine did a fair job of powering the car (it develops 121 kW and 240 N.m). However, there were times when I noticed a distinct delay between applying the throttle and the powertrain responding. Still, switch the vehicle to “sport” mode and response sharpens up nicely.

Summary

After spending two days in the 5008, I realised how capable this car is as a family vehicle, offering the option to carry seven in relative comfort. It boasts a high level of practicality, a comfortable ride quality and a refined experience from inside the cabin. It's also priced competitively, but Peugeot will has a tough task luring buyers away from favourites such as Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace (in this case, in 1,4 TSI Comfortline guise).



FAST FACTS

Model: Peugeot 5008 1,6T Allure AT
Price: R534 900
Engine: 1,6-litre turbopetrol
Power: 121 kW at 6 000 r/min
Torque: 240 N.m at 1 400 r/min
0-100 km/h: 10,5 seconds
Top Speed: 201 km/h
Fuel Consumption: 7,0 L/100 km
CO2: 156 g/km
Transmission: 6-speed AT
Service Plan: 5-year/100 000 km