As brilliant as some of them are, MPVs seem to be falling out of favour with buyers, fast. And the slot that they once occupied is now being filled by seven-seat SUVs that have flooded the market in different sizes and shapes. In fact, those looking to buy SUVs, especially compact utility vehicles, have never had it so good.

No wonder then that when French automaker Peugeot designed its second generation 5008, it ditched the first model’s plain MPV styling in favour of a more rugged SUV design. In line with the design language of other recent models from the brand including the 308 hatchback and the 3008 crossover, the new 5008 also gains sharper lines, the family face anchored by a chequered chrome grille, LED headlights and daytime running lights. It also gets the same Black Diamond roof, gloss black rear panel and the distinctive LED taillamps as the 3008, as well as sharply creased beltline.

 

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Photos: Stefan Lindeque

The thoroughly modern styling theme carries over to the interior, which is a great blend of leather, metal and fabric. The swish cabin is unlike any other in this segment and is so futuristic that it will not look out of place in a concept car. The high-tech i-Cockpit console and the piano-key toggle switches add to the overall ambience of the 5008’s passenger cell.  The signature compact steering wheel with its flat top and bottom is a pleasure to hold, but depending on their height and seating position, some drivers may find it blocking their view of the gauge. Also, while it suits the proportions of smaller models, it comes across as a bit disproportionately small for a vehicle of this size. All seven seats are individually adjustable, but the third row chairs are grossly inadequate to accommodate adult passengers. There could just be enough leg room for a couple of pre-teens. But if you don’t have more than five passengers, these two seats fold flat into the boot, adding to already decent cargo space.

 

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Futuristic cabin with its multidimensional design is arguably the best looking in class

The 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine is smooth and refined, putting out 165 horsepower  and 240Nm of torque to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. For all its stylish and muscular looks, the 5008’s handling isn’t the best in class. While the steering is reasonably weighted and responsive for an SUV, chucking it into corners or highway exits at above average speeds does elicit perceptible body roll. But it feels smooth at highway speeds, with wind and tyre noise kept well under check. I found the brakes to be grabby in city traffic, which retracts a bit from the overall refinement, especially for a family car. The view out from the cabin isn’t the best in the 5008.

 

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Third row seats are handy to carry two extra passengers, provided they are below average in size

Apart from these handful of minor niggles, the 5008 is an impressively endowed vehicle, especially when it comes to technology features. Apart from convenience features like screen mirroring and wireless charging for smartphones, the Peugeot SUV also comes equipped with Hill Assist Descent Control, speed-limit sign recognition with recommendations, Active Safety Brake with warning of collision risk, lane departure warning, active blind-spot monitoring, driver attention alert and adaptive cruise control with stop feature. It’s also heartening to see that a body structure optimised to absorb impact is bolstered by up to six airbags and ESP along with a host of sensors and cameras.

For all the features it packs, the 5008 has been priced right, with the base Active trim starting at Dh99,900, the mid-level Allure priced at Dh114,900 and the top-spec GT Line retailing for Dh134,900. At this price it’s definitely a model worth considering if your shopping list already has the likes of a Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento or a Nissan X-Trail.

 

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