Peugeot remains a tiny protagonist on the edge of a ferocious Aussie SUV market battlefield. But a limited edition version of its mid-size 5008 offers an interesting alternative to the mainstream players.
I don't mind telling you I really like Peugeot's current range of cars. Often either underrated or underestimated, there are Peugeots I would have over much more prominent competition from Europe for one simple reason - I think they're better.
The 308 is a case in point, its 1.2-litre turbo triple cylinder is a brilliant car, with an offbeat edge, good chassis and a cool interior. Much more interesting than the Golf or the Megane.
A couple of years ago, Peugeot's parent company PSA cast off the shackles of its SUV arrangement with Mitsubishi, hitting the Paris Motor Show with two funky double-ohs - the 3008 and 5008. The 3008 has been resident on our driveway for the last six months and has impressed with its commitment to style and substance.
Peugeot is currently offering the 5008 and 3008 in a special edition called the Crossway, with extra features over the standard car. Given my familiarity with the 3008, editor Flynn wisely sent me out in the seven-seat 5008 Crossway so you're getting a bit of a two-for-one here.
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with? 7/10
There are just 40 of the 5008 Crossways, but given Peugeot's big machine hasn't exactly set the sales charts on fire, there should still be some available. Peugeot reckons it has $3700 of extra goodies over the Allure.
For $46,990 before on-road costs (the 3008 Crossway is $43,490) you score 18-inch alloys, a 10-speaker stereo, 12.3-inch digital dashboard, Alcantara trim, auto-parking, electric tailgate with gesture opening, wireless charging mat, Peugeot's 'Grip Control', dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, a solid safety package, keyless entry and start and a space-saver spare.
Behind the steering wheel is a 12.3-inch digital dashboard.
Under the boot is a space-saver spare tyre.
The 5008 Crossway wears 18-inch alloy wheels.
The 10-speaker stereo is from Focal Audio. Peugeot says Focal came in during the 3008 and 5008's design phase and had a say in some of the cabin materials to improve the system's performance. How fancy!
Is there anything interesting about its design? 8/10
Out of the two, I think the 3008 is the better looking car, but the 5008 is a really nice piece of design, too.
Peugeot rediscovered boldness with these two cars after the slightly dull 208/308/2008. The 5008, being a seven-seater is longer with a much more upright rear end. I actually prefer the front end to the 3008's, it's a bit less fussy the GT-Line we have.
The Crossway features some specific decals on the B-pillar, with an at-first cryptic latitude-longitude reference, along with a black roof and chrome bits. It's all fairly restrained, really, and it looks great in the silver (one of four colours), particularly with the blacked out roof and pillars.
The Crossway looks great in the silver, particularly with the blacked out roof and pillars.
The interior is a cracker. Inventive, well laid-out and with a great use and choice of materials, it's properly special. The wacky 'i-Cockpit' seems to work really well in the 5008. There are some lovely touches, such as the aluminium piano-key style switches for the shortcut buttons, the blue Crossway stitching and the splashes of fabric on the doors and dash.
In the 5008 Crossway, you get specific floor mats (the 3008 misses out) along with the blue stitching and blue ambient lighting. The front seats are as comfortable to sit in as they are good to look at.
How practical is the space inside? 8/10
Being a seven-seater and a more boxy machine than the 3008, it's big inside.
The middle row slides fore and aft to help the poor bairns you've stowed in the third row. The two jump seats have a really simple, one-handed release/stow function, too. The spare is slung under the car to accommodate the seats.
Forward of the B-pillar, the two SUVs are virtually identical, so you have a pair of useful cupholders (not always the case in a French car), bottle holders in each door (as you do in the rear, for a total of four), console tray for your phone which also houses the charging mat and USB port, a deep centre console with armrest and a good-sized glove box.
Rear seat passengers have plenty of legroom, sit on a 40/20/40 split fold seat and have access to a pair of airline-style trays on the front seatbacks and their own fan controls.
Rear seat passengers are spoiled when it comes to legroom.
The third row has small cupholders moulded into the sides.
No centre armrest or cupholders, though, which seems odd but it does mean a comfortable seat back for the middle passenger. All the seats apart from the third row are very comfortable and the Alcantara is a really nice choice.
Back in the third row there are small cupholders moulded into the sides, joined by a slot for a phone or a box of Smarties.
The boot is massive. With the third row stowed away, you'll have 780 litres to fill and with the middle row down, a whopping 1980 litres. With all seats up, you'll have enough space for a few soft bags and an umbrella.
With the second row in place the space is rated at 780 litres.
With all seats in play, there's enough room for a few soft bags.
Peugeot expects to see a petrol 5008 in for service every 12 months/20,000km.
The 'Assured Service Price Promise' (aka capped-price servicing) runs to 108 months (nine years)/180,000km but the website only goes up to five years.
Prices range from $474 (for three out of five services) jumping to around $800 for the other two.
What's it like to drive? 7/10
It is both surprising and unsurprising that the 5008 feels a lot like the 3008. Obviously they share a huge number of parts and the driving position is virtually identical.
The 5008's petrol engine is very, very quiet and very smooth. It's certainly a better match than the diesel for the six-speed auto and carries you around really calmly. The diesel is a tad laggy, with the torque rushing at you even on moderate throttle.
The longer wheelbase of the 5008 also delivers a more relaxed ride. As it's not intended as an off-roader, the suspension and tyres are aimed squarely at a good on-road experience. Like the engine, the chassis is smooth but feels good.
I quite like the steering - the small steering wheel is well-weighted and with just enough weight to make you feel connected.
The 5008 lopes along in urban and highway driving. It's never fast, but always adequate. As you load up it certainly can struggle a little - if you're planning on lots of heavy loads, you'll want the diesel, so the Crossway may not be for you as it only comes in petrol.
The Crossway is only 4.6-metre in length, which is tiny for a seven-seat SUV.
For such a large car, it never feels its size. I was convinced it was 30cm longer than its actual 4.6-metre length given how big it is inside. Not many seven-seat SUVs are this compact. The packaging is impressive, with the cabin seemingly taking priority in the space race.
Pop the bonnet and you'll see how cramped it is under there, meaning more space for you and your stuff.
I quite like the digital dash in the Peugeot. You can choose from a number of modes, but the hardware is snappy and never over-ambitious in its display modes. You can't splash the map across it like you can in an Audi, but it's no great loss.
The only real dramas in the car are the weak halogen headlights, sometimes annoying touchscreen and the lack of reverse cross traffic alert. Oh, and the third row is pretty tight, but that's hardly news.
The 5008 Crossway is a bit niche, but doesn't take away from the basic appeal of the Peugeot's big SUV. Most of the extra value is taken up with the funky stereo (and it is good) and other niceties like lighting and fabric choices. I particularly like the seating and its Alcantara trim - feels plush and looks great.
The Allure on which the Crossway is based is clearly a pretty good start. I wish it had LED headlights and maybe a touch more power - the diesel is strong but not as drivable, so a boosted 1.6-turbo would be nice. It's also not especially cheap.
But I reckon it looks fantastic inside and out and just as importantly, feels good to be in and to drive. The French are really on their game these days, which is just as well given the rabid competition.
Is the audiophile-focused 5008 something to consider? Or do the Japanese and Koreans have your sympathetic ear?