Sep 022014

MANILA, Philippines – The birth of a third child usually signifies the end to owning any car that’s remotely stylish. The dream of owning something that’s out-of-this-world fun is replaced by something much more down-to-earth. Adjectives such as “sporty” and “dynamic” are replaced with “comfortable” and “practical.” Thankfully, modern day moms and dads are blessed with a player out there; one that manages to blend practicality with some French flair. Meet the Peugeot 5008—a sexy MPV that’s also quite sensible.

The Peugeot 5008 looks nothing like a typical MPV. In fact, the styling is more wagon than family hauler. Upfront, it has the modern Peugeot family face with the triangular headlights, split grille work, and the large lion emblem set upon a shield-like opening. The 5008 equally impresses in the detailing as well. It uses subtle curves, creating a delicate play of light, especially in the front quarter. At the side, the 5008’s wheelbase has been clearly stretched out, endowing it with a 2,727mm wheelbase despite the compact 4,530mm overall length. The nice detail work continues with the rising chrome beltline, front fender flare, and the parallel front-back crease line. Even the wheels, fitted with Michelin Primacy HP 215/50R-17 tires look perfect. The rear is perhaps the only view on the 5008 that looks like an MPV. And yet, there’re still some things left to talk about such as the rectangular taillights that seem to wrap around the rear fenders and the rear glass that dips to fit the Peugeot logo.

As sharp as the 5008 is outside, it’s even more chic inside. It has a slightly raised floor meaning ingress and egress is much easier than a conventional sedan, perfect for those who bring elderly family with them on a regular basis. The driving position is also more upright and high, giving a more commanding view of the road ahead. The asymmetrical dashboard, a Peugeot trademark, is a little odd at first, but by canting the controls towards the driver, it gives a better feel to its overall operation. Not to mention, it frees up more legroom for the front passenger. There’s an excellent array of adjustments available including a tilt/telescopic steering wheel and power driver’s seat adjustment on the 2.0 HDI Allure model. Fit and finish are also top-notch with plush plastics lining the cabin. The fine-grain leather used on the thick-rimmed steering wheel and seats are quite luxurious as are most of the controls with a matte finish. Even the chrome accents are polished into a high mirror-like luster. There are still some minor hiccups and these fall primarily to the shiny (and hard) plastics used on the audio and cruise control stalks and the climate control knobs, but it’s no big deal.

More than just in the business of looking sharp, the 5008 is also smart. In terms of interior size, it isn’t as cavernous as an American-style MPV. In fact, think of it as a roomy five-seater (with tons of luggage space) or a cramped seven-seater (with almost no luggage space). But, the 5008 offers excellent cargo flexibility to make up for its limited room. The second row tilts, slides, and folds in a 40/20/40 split allowing it to adjust between increased cargo carrying and legroom between the second and third rows. The one-touch lever mechanism is also very ingenious. It allows the seat cushion to fold against the setback, giving additional room when stepping into the third row. And speaking of the third row, the 5008’s two additional seats fold flat into the floor and raise up in a mesmerizing mechanical dance to reveal two full-sized (but thinly cushioned) seats. The seatbacks cannot be adjusted so third-row seating is a bit upright. The front passenger seat isn’t left out of the action. It actually folds forward, allowing the 5008 to swallow long objects with little difficulty.

The 5008 is well-kitted for P1,895,000. It comes with a vast array of standard creature features. Aside from the aforementioned powered driver’s seat and leather upholstery, the 5008 comes with dual-zone climate control with separate rear air conditioning, a dual-zone entertainment system that plays two sources simultaneously (one via the six-speaker system, one via the wireless headphones), a panoramic moon roof, two picnic tables, and sun blinds on the second and third rows. Even the driver is pampered with a heads-up display, cruise control, and distance warning control. In the safety aspect, it’s got six airbags, ABS, stability control, and even Hill Start Assist! In other words, this is all the luxury and safety amenities you could ask for, and then some.

Unfortunately, all these features come with one huge caveat: the ergonomics are all over the place. Controls are often grouped into clusters to make them easier to use, but in the 5008, they are scattered with almost no logic. For instance, controls to the multi-function display are placed not near the instrument panel where they should be, but near the hood latch. It’s the same case with the stalks where the “pause” command for the entertainment system is on the one for the lights. And then there’s the cruise control which is by itself a mess of knob turns and button presses to operate. It does get more natural after a time, but there’s no denying the steep initial learning curve involved.

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Thankfully, the ergonomics issue aside, the rest of the 5008 is more natural. Powered by a 2.0-liter HDI turbo diesel engine, it punches out 163 hp and 340 Nm of torque. At idle, it’s quiet and refined, with none of the typical diesel clatter. In full attack mode, it’s an absolute cracker, catapulting the 5008 to breakneck speeds in no time. In between, it can be as sporty or as comfortable as you want it to be: the control is your right foot. The 5008 is sensitive to throttle inputs, so being feathery light in application results in a smooth experience. The shifts from its traditional six-speed automatic are quick and imperceptible. If you’re a bit more aggressive, it obliges with a more aggressive attitude and a gearbox that keeps the engine at the peak torque. Plus, thanks to its particulate filter, the 5008 doesn’t emit any black smoke, a common problem with diesel-fed cars. And despite not having an idle start/stop function, the 5008 2.0 HDI produced good numbers: 12.98 km/L in the city and 19.60 km/L on the highway.

Sporting a MacPherson strut suspension upfront and a torsion beam axle at the back, the 5008 has a more stable and solid rather than sporty demeanor. In a straight line and traveling at highway speeds, it’s absolutely quiet and spot on perfect. The steering is weighty, making it almost impervious to crosswinds. The brakes are also excellent with good bite and modulation. However, when the straight roads turn into corners, the 5008 initially obliges only to understeer because of its large frame and rigid suspension set-up. In the city, the relatively low-profile tires and high psi requirement (43 psi when fully loaded), means it tends to shudder through bumps, mostly on the small undulating kind like road cracks.

The Peugeot 5008 is proof that starting a family or bringing along the extended one doesn’t necessarily equate to owning a car that’s boring or dull. It’s certainly not the most perfect family ferrying solution out there, and yes, there are certainly more practical ways to bring the kids around. However, there’s no other MPV quite like the 5008. As a brand, Peugeot is still in its infancy, so long-term reliability and durability are still big question marks. However, there’s nothing that you have to hand it to the French here. They’ve built one stylish and sophisticated MPV that’s as sexy with one, two, five, or seven people onboard. Indeed, sexiness need not end with a family.

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