Jaco van der Merwe
Peugeot still actually makes damn nice cars and the manufacturer is very much aware of its bad reputation and claims to have reinvented itself.
Many moons ago my wife had the rare privilege of buying a new car for the first time. A five-door hatch was the segment and dealerships featuring tried and trusted names were the place to be for weeks on end. But none of those usual suspects wowed us.
All the hatches we got into did exactly the same things with no real standout features. After a long search my better half lost her heart. But the sexy little number she fell for wasn’t from Japan or Germany. It was from France: a Peugeot 206. Even though her head tried to talk her heart out of buying something that in all probability won’t have the resale value of something with a familiar household brand, there was no turning back.
This little hatch was similarly priced to its rivals, but specification wise it was packed to the brim and possessed a certain pizzazz its contemporaries lacked. And the 206 was fantastic … for about three months – then all the bad things you might have heard about Peugeot became a reality.
Long story short, after seven mostly unsuccessful returns to the dealership’s workshop in 13 months, the car was offloaded for a shocking trade-in price which left a deep cut in a once proud heart. So what does this story have to do with the new Peugeot 5008 1.6T in GT-Line we tested recently?
Well, everything, in fact. Peugeot still actually makes damn nice cars and the manufacturer is very much aware of its bad reputation and claim to have reinvented itself. If it succeeds in resurrecting their reputable name, driving one of its cars should be rewarding for longer than when the new smell inside wears off.
The 5008, that alongside the new 108 carry Peugeot’s flag into the newfound promised land, finds itself in a peculiar bracket in the local market. Being a seven-seater, it offers either a third row of seats or, with them folded down or removed, over 1 060l of boot space. And while the 5008 is bigger than all its contemporaries in the compact SUV segment, its finishing is also more premium than most brands not termed premium. By the way, offering more upmarket touches is a direction Peugeot is boldly pursuing.
From the front the 5008 looks attractive with its chrome-finned wide grill and full-beam LED headlamps fitted to our test unit. At the rear, Peugeot’s signature ‘‘claw effect’’ lights is a standout feature, while chrome strips on the sides and 19-inch wheels further enhanced the appearance.
The driver’s seat and its immediate surrounds, a space the manufacturer calls i-Cockpit, has a futuristic ring to it. The 12.3- inch digital instrumental display cluster supports this, as it is quite deep set into the dash, with the driver looking over the compact steering wheel which Peugeot claims to be the smallest in the market.
Peugeot calls it a head-up display panel as your eyes are much closer to the road in front when viewing as with a more traditional layout. And the instrument panel’s display is simply out of this world, with one setting option turning the two dials on the Z-axis with them turning up and down.
To further enhance the futuristic feel, the 5008 impressive driver assist systems allows a very high level of autonomous driving, while the engine runs quiet and the cabin is so well insulated that you hardly hear engine noise before you hit 60 km/h. But that doesn’t mean the 1.6 turbo 121kW/240Nm petrol engine paired with a smooth six speed automatic gearbox is a slouch. It is very willing.
Another standout interior feature is i-Cockpit Amplify. It has two settings, Relax and Boost, which sets out to stimulate four senses. It chances screen and light settings, sound profiles, smell through the use of a fragrance diffuser and touch by virtue of the seat massage available exclusively in GT-Line.
All in all, the new 5008 is an impressive vehicle that brings oodles of goodies to the table, including a five-year/100 000 km comprehensive warranty and five-year/100 000 km comprehensive service plan. But that is only one half of the story and the ball is in Peugeot’s hands now to give the product the backing it richly deserves.
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