Two wheel drive compact SUVs are squeezing ‘genuine’ people movers off buyer’s radar because they’re cheap and perform a similar mass transit function - almost. Sometimes however, only a people mover will do.

A properly designed and engineered ‘family bus’ such as Peugeot’s new 5008 is a sensible vehicle for conveying seven people economically, comfortably and safely. The new Pug bus joins the ugly 3008 that has hung around like a bad smell for a while.

Explore the 2013 Peugeot 5008 Range

We drove the newcomer recently on an extended 1000km test run sometimes with people, sometimes in van-mode house moving.

VALUE

Goodies such as a panoramic sun roof, satnav, front arm rests, front and side park assist, reverse camera, dual-zone climate control with adjustable side pillar vents, electric park brake, cruise with speed limiter, retractable side window blinds, pollen filter, trip computer and auto headlights and wipers are standard kit.

Other practicalities include two DVD players for the second row occupants with bluetooth head sets and multimedia connections.

Leather costs three grand more on top of the 1.6 at $36,990 and the 2.0-litre diesel at $40,490, both six-speed autos only. The vehicle is a little more compact but taller than a Honda Odyssey  that has difficult third row access and is only beaten on price by Kia’s new Rondo ($29,990).

DESIGN

It is OK to look at too, a bit like a five door hatch morphed and plumped into a wagon. The 5008 has characteristic current Peugeot design cues about its flanks in particular the head and tail lights, grille and side highlight lines. The interior of Aussie spec’ 5008 is the same in both 1.6-litre turbo petrol and 2.0-litre turbo diesel variants and is to medium luxury level.

With all seven seats in place, a reasonable load space remains. But there’s no spare, only a tyre inflation kit. The 5008 will take seven adults with relative ease and provides simple access to the third row through folding ‘cinema’ seats in the second row. The third row with two seats comes complete with a proper foot well, sedan-like seat positioning and adjustable aircon’ vents.

The second and third rows are all foldable to provide a large, completely flat load space if needed. And the process is quick and easy. Access to the luggage compartment is by a large, top-hinged hatch and the load deck height is roughly the same as a small hatchback.

SAFETY

Safety rates five stars with six air bags including a curtain bag that covers the entire side to aft of the third row.

ENGINE

We got a crack in the high-tech, direct injection, turbo petrol 1.6 rated at 115kW/240Nm (the 2.0-litre diesel achieves 120kW/340Nm) and though initially sceptical about the ability of such an engine to move more than 1.5 tonnes of vehicle and potentially half a tonne of human and some luggage, we were soon convinced.

DRIVING

The engine is in a few other Pugs including the RCZ auto and other less glamorous models. It churns out plenty of low rev grunt to get the whole plot quickly mobile and has no trouble whizzing along at freeway speeds including uphill, fully laden with the air on.

Noise is minimal and the vehicle has a comfortable and controlled ride from the simple strut front and torsion beam rear suspension. The driving position is car-like and comfortable over a long run and we were able to achieve the manufacturer’s claimed 7.6-litres/100km combined fuel economy. But it prefers 95 or better petrol. The auto is good and the drive feel is decidedly not “mum-bus”.

It has a few direct competitors apart from perhaps Citroen’s C4 Picasso which is essentially the same vehicle underneath - at a bit more money.

VERDICT

A worthy vehicle if you are a breeder and must have a people mover.