BMW’s classiest tuners work their thoughtful magic on the ultimate diesel X3
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This looks like a crossover. Isn’t the Peugeot 5008 a people carrier? Yup, the Peugeot 5008 has had an extreme makeover. It used to be a seven-seat MPV. Now it’s an extended version of the 3008 crossover-SUV, still with seven seats. It has only two close rivals at the moment: the Nissan X-Trail and Skoda Kodiaq. But as with any part of the SUV-shaped market, you can bet this niche will be filled out by many more in coming years. Why the change from MPV to SUV? Peugeot wants to sell the new 5008 in China and South America, where no-one buys people carriers. No-one much buys them in Europe any more either. Besides, people pay more for SUVs, even if they cost no more to make. Peugeot isn’t a charity. One-box people-carriers are as shivering-cold as crossovers are simmering hot. So it’s a crossover but not a 4x4? Indeed. Instead there’s an optional advanced traction and descent control system, which comes bundled up with slightly more mud-capable tyres. All 5008s have adequate ground clearance for gentle departures from the tarmac. In 2019 you will be able to get a plug-in hybrid version of the related Peugeot 3008, with an electric drive to the rear axle and hybrid on the front, making it four-wheel drive. But the hybrid battery won’t fit in this 5008 because that’s where the third-row seats go. You mention the 3008. What are the differences? The 5008’s wheelbase is 165mm longer. It’s all added behind the driver. You can see that in the long rear doors. It also has a more vertical tail end, though that’s disguised by the shape of the chrome strip around the side window. The 5008 is about 50kg heaver than the 3008. Not a lot – and actually about 100kg lighter than the old 5008. It gets the same excellent dash and controls as the 3008, and the same exterior design from driver forward, with only small differences in the bumper. You like driving the 3008. Is this a continuation or a ruination? A continuation, mostly. The superb digital cockpit – superb partly because it has several hard keys to control it – remains. The navigation is smooth and has connected traffic info. The furniture and dash look great too, and are trimmed with taste and quality. It cruises nicely, spearing down a motorway with quiet determination. In town the ride copes with speedbump-sized events, and the quick steering is handy on roundabouts. The driver aids do aid you, without treating you like an idiot. That’s the main family car stuff dealt with. But when you’ve been left alone, it’s not averse to a twisty road. With reservations. The engine range is the same as the 3008’s. Top dog on the price lists is a 2.0 180bhp diesel auto. But it’s noisy and the transmission gets wrong-footed too often. It’s a heavy powertrain too, so the quick steering feels at slightly at odds with the weight it’s having to deflect. The suspension, stiffened for the GT version, is a bit lumpen.
It needn’t be like that. At the other end of the range is a three-cylinder petrol. Putting that 130bhp 1.2-litre up against a seven-seat crossover sounds like a tragically uneven match, but the plucky little motor overcomes your preconceptions. It lightens the 5008 by 230kg versus the big diesel auto, too. So the suspension is more fluent, the ride definitely better and the whole car more harmonious. Suddenly you realise having seven seats won’t bring your driving life to a sticky end. Is it a real seven-seater or are the third row token-only? If the middle three are prepared to slide forward – but not uncomfortably – and the back two are under about 1.7m tall, then it won’t break any human-rights prisoner conventions. Getting in and out requires gymnastic determination though. And behind the third row the remnant of boot space won’t carry bags for seven. It’s for school carpool or kids-plus-grandparents days out. The middle row? They’re thrones of some splendour. Three separate seats all slide and recline independently. All three have Isofix points, too. Tables pop up from the backs of the front seats, and vent outlets and reading lights serve the rear. In fact the 5008 makes a brilliant five-seater. In that configuration it’s got Maybach-like legroom, and a vast boot. With the third row folded down the floor is flat, though you can also remove each back seat and leave them behind, making the boot deeper still. Presumably it’s more affordable than a Maybach? The UK prices haven’t been released, as none will be delivered until September. But we’ve been told to expect a £2000 margin over the 3008. No seven-seat crossover is more economical than this in the official tests. The 1.2 petrol rates about 55mpg and 115g/km. The 1.6 diesel is as low as 105g/km. Figure on about about £30,500 for a very nicely equipped 1.6 diesel. Or sub-£25k for an entry-level 1.2 petrol.