Peugeot's revised 5008 offers a premium travel experience
Classy Continental carrier The seven-seater Peugeot 5008 has been given a facelift with premium amenities. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Whoever expounds the notion that substance always takes precedence over style has not met the Peugeot 5008.

Here is a French car with a fine lineage that does nothing for anyone who has even the slightest love for driving. Yet it is attractive in its own way.

Yes, we are talking about the 5008 e-HDi 1.6. The seven-seater, which has the same proposition as the Citroen C4 Picasso, has been given a minor facelift.

It has new headlights, LED daytime- running lights, a revised grille and bumper, and a cabin that has even more premium amenities than its previously well-equipped interior.

The shiniest new toy is its factory- fitted navigation and reverse camera, displayed on a wide retractable monitor.

Together with pre-existing goodies such as a panoramic glass roof (with one-touch motorised screen), cruise control, electronic parking brake with self-release mechanism, and head-up display, they make the Peugeot an enviable premium contender.

What seals its status as such a contender, though, is a level of attention to detail you normally see in an upscale car.

The deep storage compartment between the front seats is felt-lined, which means stuff you put inside is less likely to make a din when you drive.

The centre console is positioned in such a way that swivel armrests on the front seats are not in the way of controls.

The 5008 offers a high level of practicality too. It has five individually retractable seats, a flat floor and a front passenger seat that can be folded to form a mini table.

While it is not a full-size MPV, the third row is still fairly comfortable for occupants up to 1.6m tall.

In essence, we are talking about a compact MPV that is highly versatile, decently built and loaded with premium features. If it had a keyless system, it would be even classier.

Still, there is no escaping the fact that the 5008 is as pleasurable to drive as a cargo van.

It has the same drivetrain as before: a 1.6-litre turbodiesel mated to a robotised manual gearbox.

Peugeot claims fuel efficiency has been improved marginally, with the facelifted car capable of covering 100km on an unbelievable 4.3 litres of diesel (versus the previous 4.8, which was also unbelievable).

It is unclear how the manufacturer managed to do this, but it seems the engine has been further refined.

Power outputs and performance figures are unchanged. The century sprint is still a relatively leisurely 13.3 seconds, and top speed is nothing to write home about.

To be fair, performance is seldom an MPV's strongest suit. An MPV driver is often content merely with something that moves. So he is unlikely to notice the 5008's jerky and unpredictable progress, thanks to a transmission that has no place in modern cars, and an engine that is a little underwhelming in a seven-seater.

The only time the confounded combination works is when the 5008 attains cruising speed, say, around 75kmh. From then on, it is fairly smooth and deceptively fast. Take your eye off the speedometer for a moment and it goes past the century mark just like that.

Ride and handling are what you would expect of an MPV too. There is a bit of body movement whenever the tarmac is less than perfect. Actually, there is occasional body movement even when the tarmac is perfect.

Its brake pedal has the consistency of jelly but once you get used to the long travel, you find that the car's stopping power is pretty strong. Yet there is no hint of harshness or abruptness.

On balance, the 5008 is a viable alternative to MPVs that are purely functional and which tend to be crusty. Its high equipment level and classy ambience make commuting an occasion.

As for the car's uninspiring driving experience, MPV drivers are less likely to mind. And even if a driving enthusiast is behind the wheel, he will be out-voted six to one.

CAR INFORMATION

Peugeot 5008 Diesel 1.6 e-HDi ETG (A)

Price

:$123,900

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve DOHC Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1,560 cc

Horsepower

:

113 bhp / 3,600 rpm

Torque

:

270 Nm / 1,750 rpm

Transmission

:

6-speed (A) ETG

Acceleration

:

13.3 sec (0-100 km/h)

Top Speed

:

183 km/h