Regardless of what some people may say or feel about MPVs, they are very useful for taking the entire family and their pets on a road trip whenever their hearts so desired, without having to resort to appointing two drivers and splitting the family up. After all, the fun is in the journey as much as it is in the destination. Anyone who’s ever experienced the dynamics of a family of 5 or more growing up together would be able to tell you that it’s more fun to ride together, singing your favorite childhood songs or laughing and joking (and arguing) about and with one another throughout the journey. I come from a family of 5 siblings, and I vividly remember the long road trips we took as a family, complete with grandparents for a grand total of 9 people in a Toyota Liteace minivan which was all the rage for families on a budget in the 80s, back in the day when bringing up more than one child wasn’t as cost prohibitive as it is now. The Liteace had a column stick shift, which meant 3 persons could ride up front, while the middle and last rows accommodated 3 each. It looked utilitarian, had a 1.3-liter engine with 4 forward ratios and it didn’t come with a lot of bells and whistles, but boy did we have fun as a family.
The modern family unit rarely contains more than 5 persons these days, thanks to the ever-shrinking resources and paychecks and the very prohibitive costs of raising even one child. With the contemporary evolution of the modern family unit landscape comes a switch to smaller vehicles that promoted a greener environment and smaller carbon footprints. At present, only a handful of manufacturers are holding on to the proposition of the carry-all multi-purpose vehicle, while the rest clamber for position in the overcrowded family sedan and hatchback markets. Peugeot is one of a few manufacturers who fill a much needed creneau by offering the medium-sized 7-seater 5008 that costs less than owning two mid-sized sedans (RM159,888 OTR with insurance). Having recently been facelifted in May of last year, the 5008 offers up even more refinement and power while keeping prices within easy reach of middle-class families with dual incomes.
Peugeot 5008: New Face
The new 5008 gets new bling on the outside with brand new eyes. A pair of adaptive Bi-Xenon headlights with LED DRLs take center stage, underpinning the look of the new car with its claw-like demeanor and deep rake along the front fender, which brings the new 5008 in line with the marque’s current corporate identity. While its predecessor looked eager to please with its friendlier face, the successor looks to dominate the streets with its mean looks. A bold, chromed oversized front grille pays tribute to the heart and soul of the Lion marque while keeping again to the corporate identity of the lineup. Previously, the pre-facelifted 5008 looked a little out of place within the line-up due to not having that “‘In Your Face” look. In fact, all three double-O variants in the Lion marque stable (2008, 3008 and 5008) looked decidedly different from one another. However, the introduction of the 2008 Crossover last yeari underpinned the new design language for the facelifted 3008 and 5008 variants as well, leading to a more cohesive family look across the board. Elsewhere, the fog lights received quite a bit of a welcome makeover, featuring chrome outlines that curve rearwards in line with the new headlights to sum up the frontal bling factor.
Its side profile is very similar to its predecessor’s, owing to little or no change to the body of the new 5008 save for the front and rear profiles, so its 2-box design prevails, which is a good thing, considering the fact that the original 5008 didn’t have any problems in the looks department. It still looks solid and purpose driven to carry 7 passengers in relative comfort and ease. The rear quarter panel glass remains in place, which is great for the rearmost passengers not to be left out of the action. The hind quarters seem to be relatively unchanged insofar as the light cluster and tailgate are concerned; we did not have access to the pre-facelifted MPV for a more detailed assessment. Suffice to say, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it so the rear design remains indistinct from its predecessor. All well and good too, since the low boot level makes it very practical for loading and unloading your stuff. Nimble young kids could clamber into the rear seats from the boot opening with ease if they so wish. The rear door raises well above most Asian heads so no problem there as well. All in all, a very practical solution and nothing too fancy.
Peugeot 5008 FL: Familiar Place Within
The interior of the facelifted Peugeot 5008 remains largely unchanged, with ample seating for 7 adults. The seats are still adorned with plush leather, perfect for a family with kids. The steering wheel though has been updated and now comes with perforation along the sides as well as anodized chrome inserts along the bottom spoke and thumb rests. For some, this change alone is a big deal as it makes the steering feel more solid and luxurious. One thing that Peugeot always gets right is the design and materials of the steering across its variant range; most of an owner’s encounter with their rides is behind the steering, so a simple polyurethane job wouldn’t cut it. It’s a shame that most Jap-mobiles come with such blasé steering wheel designs. More power to the Contis then.
The retractable Sat/Nav again takes center stage atop the dash, allowing you to adjust the viewing angle electronically for the best view. This, along with the retractable HUD (heads up display) adds a dash of visual excitement, especially for first time passengers who would never expect such little luxuries in a sub-200k compact MPV. Aside from street cred, said retractable pieces are placed well within the driver’s line of sight for ease of reference at any time.
The middle and last row seats will pose a handful for new owners, but I was told that Peugeot sales advisors are specifically taught to demonstrate every possible seat combination available and to provide 24-hour on-call assistance should the need arise (I made up that last bit). It took me all of 30 minutes to figure out the various combinations, and I must say I am impressed at the level of customization available and the thoughtfulness of the design team. Who designs a boot light that also doubles up as a rechargeable emergency (removable) torchlight?
The head restraints of the two front seats also double up as LCD monitors for the middle row passengers, who can choose to hook up their choice of portable DVD player or any portable gaming device with RCA outputs. You can choose to output the signal independently to either side or have one source playing back on both screens via an input mixer. There, that’s all the entertainment the kids will ever need. And, when everyone on board is feeling a little bored (pun), slide open the roof blinds to reveal the superb panoramic roof, and get them to go cloud hunting.
The old Lion had a 4-cylinder 16-valve DOHC Twin Scroll Turbocharged 156 THP powerplant with Variable Valve Timing while the new one gets uprated to a slightly more powerful 163 THP lump that puts out 240Nm of torque between 1,400-4,250rpm before maxing out at 163bhp @ 6,000 turns. While acceleration times and top speed remain largely unchanged (10.8 sec and 195km/h, electronically limited), the drive is slightly peppier overall. Fuel economy remains largely unchanged as well, and is quoted by Peugeot as 7.9l/100km in the EU combined cycle test. Real world fuel economy figures are a little less optimistic than that, but pretty decent nonetheless at around the 10.5l/100km mark for 3 days’ worth of spirited driving for the most part on RON 95 Euro 2M regular unleaded.
The gearbox remains the same, an AWTF-80 SC 6-speed Aisin auto-adaptive slushbox replete with Tiptronic and Sport program. Said gearbox offers quick shifts and instant clutch-to-clutch engagement, which explains the quick shifting nature of the gearbox with minimal losses due to torque converter disengagement. Bearing in mind the more than 1,600kg of kerb weight it has to lug, a sub-11 sec century sprint is nothing to scoff at.
The new Peugeot 5008 comes with a host of safety features not unlike other vehicles of its pedigree, so you get the whole array of electronic safety features; 5-Star Euro NCAP rating, 6 SRS airbags with front passenger airbag deactivation, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), ABS with EBD and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), Anti-skid Regulation (ASR), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Hill Start Assist among other passive safety features like anti-whiplash front head restraints and front seat belts with pre-tensioners and force limiters, so you can rest assured that you and your family will be well taken care of.
So How’s the Drive Like?
The Prince engine in the new Pug MPV is very easy to live with on a daily basis, offering up loads of low end grunt to move 1.7 tons of man and machine, and behaves very much like a normally-aspirated engine with a displacement of around 2.5-liters thereabouts. The trickery lies in the way the Twin Scroll turbocharger is able to deliver the right amount of boost at varying rpms to effectively do away with any perceived turbo lag. Nitpickers may detect a hint of hesitation below 1,400 rpm but the closer spacing of the 6-speed autobox gets you into the fun zone a lot quicker than would say, a 4-speeder ever could. What you get in return is a powertrain/drivetrain combo that pulls seamlessly up to around 5,000rpm before gradually giving up the ghost on its way to the 6,000rpm redline. The same engine/gearbox combo in a 408 or 508 sedan would feel a little quicker, but when you plonk 160-Gs down for an MPV the last thing on your mind would be to challenge a 308 Turbo, so for what it’s worth, this engine is more than worthy to be put into service for this particular application.
Being of the trailing arm variety (which in Peugeot speak means a deformable U-shaped cross member with anti-roll bars), the 5008 isn’t the most pliant cruiser on the highways when driven alone. However, the independent MacPherson struts with anti-roll bars in the front offer a surefooted, even tempered handling that hardly tramlines and goes where you point it to. Around the bends, the rear-end keeps its composure well for a trailing arm job but driven to extremes (which a soccer mom or dad would rarely if ever do) it does tend to protest by over-steering just a tad. Having said that, the car’s electronic wizardry (Dynamic Stability Control with Anti-skid Regulation) quickly steers the car back onto its intended path and out of harm’s way faster than one can decide to come up with a counter measure, so all’s well that ends well.
Soundproofing is one of Peugeot’s strongest suites, and in the 5008 it is no different. Driven at legal speeds and slightly beyond, NVH levels are comfortable and do not intrude much, allowing those within to enjoy the music emanating from the World In Peugeot sound system with 6 speakers. Typical of a factory-fitted turbocharged vehicle, the engine can rarely be heard over the other noises coming into the cabin, unlike normally aspirated engines that will make their point heard long before hitting their redlines. All in all, my 3 days with the Peugeot 5008 were positive ones with nothing much to complain about.
With the diminishing value of the local currency, RM159,888.00 seems like a steal at the present moment for such an accomplished ride. In 5 years’ time 160 Grand will be worth much less, so setting aside the depreciation factor of the car, what you will gain is 5 years’ worth of unforgettable memories with your loved ones and an effortless people mover that can whoop some serious ass against more expensive, naturally aspirated screamers. That alone makes the Peugeot 5008 FL worth it.