Being a first time reviewer of a new car leads to some nerves and apprehension, especially when your everyday drive is 30 years old this year and quite frankly holds little resemblance to a 2018 vehicle. In much the same way that a 1958 203 cannot be fairly compared with the technology of my 1988 505, maybe even more so, as I am sure that the last 30 years have had far more technological advances than the previous 30. So where does a first time reviewer begin? I want to give the vehicle justice, but not gushing with the unfamiliarity of all the advances and appearing to be a starry eyed child getting the greatest Lego set at Christmas! I decided that rather than jumping in, I would take a step back, to think about the years of reviews I have read within the club magazine, the NZ Herald and any multitude of magazines. For that reason I intentionally have left writing this article for a couple of months after the fact.
The greatest inspiration I can dredge out of my motoring article memories are those associated with the launch of Lexus in the 1980s. At the time the journalists were gushing about this new brand; Toyota were stating that it was a separate brand; it would have nothing on it that could be associated with the mother brand and the motoring public and enthusiasts were waiting with a great deal of anticipation. Now hold those thoughts till the end of this article.
The 5008 that Auto Distributors NZ arranged for me to review was the GT model, which sells standard for $59,990 plus On Road Costs. The GT is powered with an 180hp 2.0L diesel coupled to a 6 speed automatic gearbox. To put that in comparison, that is 10 more HP than my 1988 2.8L 505V6 and both are more than adequate to power their respective vehicles. Auto Distributors, the New Zealand agent for Peugeot, are marketing the 5008 as its 7 seater range, which this vehicle has configured in three rows. Like all modern SUVs that I have seen sold new in NZ with the third row of seats, the third row seems only appropriate for younger children and the boot space is compromised when they are set up. However this is no criticism of the 5008, it is a reality of the modern SUV and occasional stationwagon, and Peugeot manages to make those third row seats less of a token than many others have and still offers more luggage space at the same time. Gone are the times of three large rows of seats and a big boot as once found in the 203, 404, 504 and 505 wagons.
The GT offers a few extra appointments that the petrol engined Allure doesn’t – which you would expect to be the case when you compare their $10,000 difference in price. These include, but are not limited to, a hands free tailgate release – which I found worked well; a massaging driver’s seat – that frankly didn’t do it for me, though I only tried it in one of its five settings; a different front bumper – which I think does look better and differentiates it from the Allure; an advanced digital dashboard – with easy to use settings to personalise your display as you like it, including an easy to use navigation system. I really enjoyed using that, even though I only drove the vehicle on routes that I knew and had no need for navigation aid. The colouring of the dash board display was easy on the eye and I thought contrasted well to make easy viewing.
The ‘extra’ I marvelled over the most however was the sport setting. This gave the 5008 a more responsive get up and go, and you could really hear it too! However I am told that that was all smoke and mirrors. The get up and go is real, but the sound is not. Apparently there is no perceptible change in the exhaust tones to those on the outside. However within the car, the stereo system emits an amplified exhaust, all electronic trickery, and it is very convincing, in fact totally convincing. It is not the first time that Peugeot have used this. The 308 GT diesel has the same function. However it is a first time for me. I tinkered with the volume of the radio thinking I might catch the ‘exhaust’ out, however even if the talking/music increased or decreased, the exhaust tones didn’t; they just adapted to the situation. I know that it makes no difference to the ride. However it does make a difference to the driving experience, especially for those who wish to enjoy the sound of an open exhaust.
Getting away from the 5008 features, the reality is that once the novelty of a new vehicle and all it has to offer has worn off, it becomes more important to know how useable it is. Peugeot have equipped the 5008 GT with a number of sensors and between them they make driving both easier and safer. There are sensors that pick up road signs and recognise the posted limits, and displays them on the dash. Other sensors warn through a vibration in the steering wheel if you are departing your lane (I intentionally tested that one – it works well). It monitors the drivers blindspots and watches for frontal collision dangers. There are sensors to tell you if things are too close to the sides. [This was the worst function for driving in and out of my driveway as it is thin with vegetation that protrudes into it so the sensors set alarms off like it was a party.] However that was a minor event to put up with when thinking about how convenient it is in unfamiliar places.
I have driven or been a passenger in a number of vehicles recently with reversing cameras. The 5008 GT has by far the best I have experienced. Not only does it show a clear high quality picture of what is behind, it incorporates views of what are alongside the vehicle as well. As you approach a solid object such as a fence or a wall, the view then switches to a near vertical view. I do not know what other vehicles may also offer this feature, but it was a first to me. All reversing cameras should have this feature. It even will park itself, though I didn’t try it. That is not in my driving DNA.
As part of my test drive weekend I drove to Hamilton with Joshua for a football game. Whilst he warmed up I took the 5008 to Hamilton Lake for some photo opportunities, some of which you will see in the magazine.
The drive to Hamilton was effortless, I kept the transmission in the ordinary mode, occasionally changing to sport, but it was totally unnecessary. Despite its large size the SUV feels light and easy to drive, and extremely comfortable too.
Joshua soon started “discovering” the sound system features and how to sync his phone in with the sound system, the Bluetooth abilities and a whole lot of other things I barely understand. His declaration was that the system was better than in his friend’s parents’ Audi Q7, a vehicle that sells new for a minimum of $55,000 more. The traffic on the way home was often at a standstill through various State Highway 1 roadworks. It was a long trip and on this rare occasion I was grateful for the air conditioning (instead of my normal open window), everything you could expect it to be in a modern vehicle.
When I reflect on my three days of driving the 5008GT I can’t really think of anything but praise. It was everything it promised to be and more. So I guess this is my Lexus moment. For the Lexus the criticism from the motoring journalists was that it was so good they could find nothing to criticise it. My Lexus moment came about three weeks after they released it, I found one parked on Percy Street in Mount Eden. I examined it as much as a teenage boy can from the outside, I wasn’t disappointed, I found that it wasn’t all it was supposed to be. I found in small print