In that great repository of overused phrases, clichés and other go-to expressions, ‘French flair’ is one of the most well worn – yet, the more I look at the Peugeot 5008, the more apt that descriptor becomes.
It simply has the – and, no, I’m not going to say ‘je ne sais quoi’, which is another of those items from that repository where the doors are now firmly closed. In any event, the actual translation was borrowed into English as an expression of a quality that makes something or someone attractive, distinctive, or special in some way, but is hard to put into words.
If I cannot put it into words then I am in the wrong profession.
Rather like an elephant in thin bush, it can hide in plain sight without being seen but, when spotted, attracts more than just a cursory glance – like that grey behemoth; the 5008 has an impressive presence yet has all the subtle nuances of an Edith Piaf song.
As the flagship of the re-invented Peugeot South Africa, the 5008 waves a big banner in the large SUV market, the 7-seater built on Peugeot’s second-generation Efficient Modular Platform to become a SUV but with the modularity of a people-carrier.
So why make the new Peugeot 5008 an SUV, thereby abandoning the C-segment seven-seater people-carrier niche?
The answer is firstly because the people-carrier segment is almost exclusively a European phenomenon, while with the 5008 SUV a global offering and the success of the ‘C’ SUV appears to have been compensated by an erosion in demand for traditional saloons and people-carriers.
Today many drivers are drawn to the SUV concept and the positive images it projects, but they are also looking for volume, roominess, comfort, and utility compatible with the diverse aspects of their active lives.
For these people, standard SUVs are neither a good fit (too small and lacking in modularity) nor a good deal (bigger SUVs are too expensive and too imposing). Even current SUV owners, who love the design of their vehicle and the status it conveys, often want more volume and versatility.
The new Peugeot i-Cockpit elevates the passenger compartment along with the optimised and efficient interior geometry, roominess and a range of smart features.
Inside is the latest version of the Peugeot i-Cockpit, which offers a compact steering wheel (the smallest on the market, across all segments), an 8-inch capacitive touchscreen and a 12,3-inch high-resolution digital head-up instrument panel.
The seven central satin chrome dashboard switches offer quick access to the main passenger comfort and safety functions: radio, air-conditioning, satellite navigation, vehicle settings, telephone, apps and hazard warning lights.
Both the Allure and GT Line versions also feature an extra button for i-Cockpit Amplify that offers its occupants two predefined sensory environments: ‘Boost’, in tune with a dynamic driving style, and ‘Relax’, for a mellower ambience. Both can be fully customised, to accentuate the pleasure of driver and passengers alike.
The Efficient Modular Platform (EMP2) is specified with a wheelbase 16,5 cm longer than the Peugeot 3008 SUV, and is 11cm wider than the original 5008 and second-row passengers, have 60 mm more knee room.
The overall length of the vehicle (4,64 m) remains compact, yet for a spacious C-segment vehicle, the new Peugeot 5008 SUV — though 19 cm longer than the Peugeot 3008 SUV and 11 cm longer than the original version of the 5008 — is still one of the most conservatively proportioned.
The configuration offers three matching, separate, folding and tilting seats in the second row and two removable, separate, folding seats in the third row that fold down into the boot floor as standard.
The two covers of the boot floor form a perfectly flat surface when folded down and they can also be easily tucked away behind the third-row seats when these are in use.
With up to 1 060 litres of storage in 5-seat configuration, the boot is 100 dm3 larger than the original 5008. Even with the 3rd row seats installed and folded, boot space is more than 700 dm3. Its low boot sill (676 mm), in combination a hands-free power tailgate makes loading and unloading an easy task.
The safety pack includes automatic emergency braking system (AEBS) and distance alert
Systems, active lane keeping assistance, driver attention warning, smart beam assistance, speed sign recognition and speed suggestion, adaptive cruise control with stop feature (automatic gearbox), active blind spot monitoring, park assist and visio park (180° vision on GT Line).
The 1 997 cc in-line four cylinder turbo-diesel engine produces 110 kW at 4 000 r/min with peak power of 370 Nm at 2 000 r/min, driving through a six-speed automatic gearbox for an overall average consumption of 5,1 l/100 km with CO2 emissions around 136 g/km.
And, that package rather aptly fits the vehicle nomenclature of ‘Allure’.
Mrs W, who is somewhat automotively disinclined, usually responds to the oft-asked question “what car is your husband driving today” with “a red one” or “a white one”. So, when she said to me the 5008 was “nice and easy to drive”, it came as high praise indeed.
The 5008 is ‘nice and easy to drive’ and, in many ways, that is the true art of automotive design and implementation. Everything you need, where you need it and when you need it!
Driven within the context of its positioning in the market, the 5008 is smooth and quiet with no noticeable wind or road noise intrusion into the cabin.
Acceleration response is rapid enough to effect easy overtaking when the occasion demands and the good all round visibility makes it easy to place the vehicle on the road (or in a squished parking place).
The raised ride with low roofline keep it stable on the road and it has negligible body roll around corners even when given a bit of ‘wellie’, while braking is firm and without any wallow.
All in all, a car that befits its flagship status.