Change for the better?
Most want it, but few can actually take on the challenge. It's not the easiest of things to do, but if you're committed to transforming or remodelling yourself, that is already an achievement in itself.
Take, for example, the Peugeot 5008. It first started out as an MPV in its first generation, but has since transformed into a seven-seater crossover due to a shift in market trends. Rather than make a new nameplate and spend money on marketing a new product, Peugeot decided to keep the familiar name, but introduced drastic changes that transformed it into something else entirely.
With more and more car buyers moving to crossovers and SUVs, Peugeot seemed to have made the right call in changing up the 5008. But do these changes translate into a better product? Can the Peugeot 5008 go head-to-head against other seven-seater crossovers like the Ford Explorer, Mazda CX-9 and even the Honda CR-V?
One look at the Peugeot 5008 and you are immediately drawn to its aggressive, yet chic exterior. Every trace of its MPV origins has been erased thanks to the SUV redesign. Now, it resembles the 3008, albeit bigger and with a more commanding road presence. The signature front grill and sharp-looking headlights give the crossover a more upmarket appearance. Meanwhile, chrome accents on the front bumper, doors and windows provide that extra flair.
Around the back are the three-bar, claw-like taillights which frankly make the 5008 look cool and snazzy. Further adding to the Peugeot’s already sleek looks are the 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 225/55/R18 tires. The diamond-cut design, along with the black-painted inlays complement the 5008’s Platinum Gray paintjob. Finally, swooping muscular lines give the crossover its unmistakable profile from any angle or direction.
Overall, I have to commend Peugeot’s designers in transforming the looks of the 5008. While it already looked good as a people carrier, its transformation into a crossover was nicely done and gives the 5008 more character.
Open the doors, and the 5008 invites you in its elegant and sporty interior. Immediately grabbing your attention inside the crossover is its unique ‘i-Cockpit’ cabin design. In the driver’s seat, you do get the feeling that you are inside a sophisticated aircraft, what with digital displays and a wide array of buttons and switches. Then there’s the small steering wheel which looks as if it came straight out of a race car. While its unique shape may come off as unconventional, it's actually quite ergonomic and further adds to the 5008's exquisite interior. Did I mention the 5008 also comes with paddle shifters? Always a neat feature I’d say.
Further cementing the new 5008 in the 21st century are its array of digital displays. The traditional analog gauges have been replaced by a 12.3-inch monitor. While I’d much prefer an instrument panel, the clean and crisp graphics of the digital screen were nice and easy on the eyes. The center of the dashboard has an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system that houses and controls almost all of the 5008’s onboard features. From playing your favorite playlist, to adjusting the climate control, and managing the car’s security features, the touchscreen does it all in a high-tech and swift manner.
The driver’s seat is power adjustable and comes with memory settings for two. In addition, both the driver and front passenger seats come with a massage function; on long road trips and sudden weekend getaways, you'd definitely want to be seated in the front. But that is not to say that the rear seats are bad. There's plenty of headroom, elbowroom and legroom for three people at the back. They are also treated to rear aircon vents, folding tray tables, window blinds, and a 12V power socket good for recharging gadgets and smartphones.
Need to carry more people in the 5008? Worry not, as it comes with third-row seating for two people. While they’re more suited for kids and small adults, I’m happy to report that I was able to fit my 5’7" frame at the back just fine thanks to the slide-adjustable second-row seats. Should you need to carry long or tall objects such as furniture or suitcases, both the second- and third-row seats can be folded flat.
Not all was great inside the 5008 however. Remember when I said that everything has to go through the touchscreen infotainment? Well, that meant adjusting the climate control, browsing through music folders, and even changing the car's settings have to go through that one screen. While it is indeed cutting-edge, I would have preferred to have some analog controls still for manipulating the other in-car functions. Something that Peugeot could also improve are the positioning of the pedals. Both the accelerator and brake pedals appear to be too close together which could increase the risk of pedal misapplication in certain situations.
Under the hood is not a turbo-diesel engine. Instead, the 5008 has a 1.6-liter turbocharged gasoline inline-four that is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Like the smaller 3008, the engine puts out 165 PS at 6000 rpm and 240 Nm of torque at 1400 rpm. Generous those power figures may be, I can already sense that some of you are not convinced about the engine’s capability to move this relatively huge seven-seater. But I can assure you that the engine is more than capable of propelling this crossover, fully laden or not.
Despite its size, the tiny engine is quite meaty thanks to torque being available as early as 1400 rpm. With just me in the 5008, the crossover moves with ease and maintains its momentum at any speed. It’s also quite the smooth operator too thanks to the automatic transmission that seamlessly shifted through the gears. Load it up with more passengers and the powertrain carries on with no fuss. Sure, the engine does have to compensate for the added weight but it’s barely noticeable.
When you need power during overtaking or climbing up steep hills, the tiny engine will deliver. Put your foot to the floor and gobs of power are immediately sent to the front wheels. Should you need more oomph from the 1.6, you can set the powertrain to 'Sport' mode which sharpens acceleration and holds the revs through the powerband for longer. Complementing this are the previously-mentioned paddle shifters. While they do allow drivers to change cogs manually, I do wish they were mounted on the wheel itself so you can switch gears even while making a turn.
As far as fuel economy is concerned, the 5008 was quite frugal. With just two people onboard, the 5008 can return about 8.0 - 8.5 km/l in light city traffic. Take it out on the highway, and it is capable of averaging between 14.0 - 14.5 km/l. Impressive as they were, expect those figures to drop to around 7.0 - 7.5 km/l and 12.0 - 13.0 km/l respectively when you’re carrying additional occupants and cargo. Perhaps Peugeot can offer a turbo-diesel version of the 5008 just like the 3008 to further improve its fuel economy.
Over to ride quality, the 5008 has a comfortable, yet firm ride. It’s not too soft, but it’s also not overly stiff either. It walks the fine line between delivering agile handling and a lofty ride. Steering, on the other hand, was precise, if a bit numb. Taking on tight corners with the 5008 was no big deal but more road feedback would have made the driving experience a bit more tactile and fun.
So it has a nice powertrain, gorgeous looks, a sleek and comfortable cabin, and an acceptable ride quality. But how much will the new 5008 cost you? At Php 3,190,000, this French crossover has a pretty steep price tag. Sure it has almost everything you need in a compact seven-seater, but it is easily beaten by the competition.
For a little less, one can go for the Ford Explorer 2.3 Limited which is bigger, costs Php 392,000 less, and comes with more standard kit. Then there’s the Mazda CX-9 Sport Touring which is also slightly bigger, Php 810,000 less than the 5008, but lacks a few amenities here and there.
Another problem the 5008 has is its size. While it is marketed as a luxury crossover, its size (and nearest competitors) are more along the lines of the Honda CR-V, Nissan X-Trail, and the like. This puts the 5008 in a gray area of sorts (much like the Jeep Renegade 4x2 Limited we reviewed some time ago).
All in all, the Peugeot 5008 is a proper seven-seater that combines stylish looks with cutting-edge technologies, and has the benefits of a turbocharged engine. Its metamorphosis from a people carrier into a crossover impressed us, but unless Peugeot can figure out how to market it and price it more effectively, the 5008 may be stuck between a rock and a hard place.