By BRENWIN NAIDU
AUTOMATIVE designers are faced with a predicament when it comes to penning the physique of a Multi-Purpose Vehicle, or MPV.
How exactly do you make something geared at the unglamorous task of ferrying babies and prams, look attractive?
But, in typical French style, those artists at Peugeot have managed to create an MPV with a certain joie de vivre – their new 5008 is an alluring car from the outside, despite its status as a people-carrier.
This isn’t a case of deceiving looks, however, as the Peugeot manages to score well in all other areas too: from its virtues of versatility, even to its dynamic capabilities.
We tested the high-end derivative, the 1.6 THP Allure, which you can put in your garage for the reasonable price of R314 300. To put the 5008’s defining trait of practicality to the test, I rounded up the younger ones in my family for a fun outing – and they loved every second of being in this Peugeot’s roomy cabin.
If you’re a parent, rest assured that the Peugeot 5008 is truly a child-friendly car. It seats 7, employing two smaller chairs in the boot that fold up whenever needed. Of course, being a decent-sized adult, I wouldn’t be happy sitting there – but my cute little cousin Layla enjoyed herself In the snug chair, enamoured by the fact that she even had a cupholder for her McDonald’s milkshake.
Long journeys lose their novelty quickly, and it’s only a matter of time before your kin starts enquiring, every 5-kilometres, “Are we there yet?”
The Peugeot 5008 gets over this problem, with two screens integrated into the driver’s and front seat passenger’s headrests. Your little ones will be entertained by their favourite DVDs, and there are also wireless headphones – so your ears won’t have to contend with the soundtrack and script of High School Musical.
From the driver’s perspective, the 5008 is equally pleasant. It boasts a typically elevated driving positionwhich, coupled big windows, results in an excellent view of the road. The panoramic roof is huge, and extends all the way to the rear of the car – but passengers will have more time to savour the beautiful view of the sky above.
In terms of handling, it’s a given that taller, wider cars are going to loathe corners as much Alex Ferguson loathes staying gum-free. But surprise – I turned into many a sharp bend with gusto, and found that the 5008 remained composed and stuck to the tarmac just like gum to fabric. There was no precarious sense that it was going to topple over; cornering is done in a stable, confidence-inspiring manner in the 5008. On the freeway it cruises comfortably, one can glide along in bliss, rump soothed by the well-padded seats – with arm-rests – and the cruise control set to 120km/h.
And the 1.6-litre turbocharged powerplant managed a superb job too, delivering quick take-offs (relative to its size) and enough grunt to overtake with ease on the highway. This model was equipped with an automatic transmission, which, at times seemed to hunt for gears. Although shifts were executed in a seamless, jolt-free way.
There are many reasons for the 5008 – and when you drive one, you’ll understand why it managed to earn a place as a finalist in the Car of The Year completion.
As for French build quality, yes, our test vehicle did have some minor niggles with interior trim bits. But remember, Peugeot now offer excellent, standard comprehensive warranties and service plans.