Johannesburg - There’s a new breeze sweeping through Peugeot South Africa, with an aggressive brand relaunch that includes realigning dealerships, customer relationships, and spare parts turnaround times.

“It’s been a tough few months,” said Peugeot Citroën SA managing director Xavier Gobille. “We had to take a long, hard, honest look at ourselves and ask the difficult questions, and find solutions for them. If you weren’t part of the solution then you had to go, simple as that, it wasn’t easy but I firmly believe we’re on the right track.

“Peugeot has a long history in South Africa and we need to capitalise on that, and increase our market share considerably.”

“We have a large market share in Europe and we need to replicate that here, believe me when I say that you won’t ever find a boring or bland car in our stable.”

He’s pretty much on the money there, the French car manufacturer has always had a unique and quirky way of designing and building cars.

Not really quirky but the Peugeot 5008 SUV is certainly not boring and bland.

The 5008, pronounced five thousand and eight and not five double O eight, is closely related to the smaller 3008 – both being built around the EMP2 platform – but it’s 190mm longer than the 3008 and 110mm wider than the original 5008.

The extra length equates to an extra 60mm of legroom for the second row of seats.

The third row folds down into the boot floor as standard and, in another unique Peugeot innovation, they are easily removed – providing extra boot space.

The rest of the interior reflects decent quality, with soft touch materials that abound and seven easy-to-use central satin-chrome dashboard toggle switches, for controlling ventilation, satnav, radio and other functions. It's fitted with Peugeot’s impressive i-Cockpit dashboard, that includes a 31cm high-resolution digital instrument cluster and 20cm capacitive touchscreen.

The settings are almost limitless and with i-Cockpit Amplify, both in the Allure and GT Line versions, you get what Peugeot calls “stimulating four senses at once” – sight by adjusting screen colour and interior lighting. hearing with musical ambience settings, touch with a massage function in the driver’s seat and smell with a fragrance diffuser. Seriously.

You won’t confuse the exterior with anything else, other than a Peugeot with striking lines, a large panoramic glass sunroof, optional on the GT Line version, and aluminium roof bars.

From the front, the unmistakable Peugeot Lion stands proudly on the front grille, with daytime running lights and halogen headlamps on the Allure, and LED on the GT Line.

From the side, a quick glance to the back looks a bit Toyota RAV-ish but it’s very much still Peugeot, with a wide tailgate and low boot sill. It can also be opened by swiping your foot under the bumper.

The Allure is rounded off with 18-inch alloys and the GT line gets 19 inches.

There are two engine choices, a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine that produces 121kW and 240Nm, and a two-litre turbodiesel with a 110kW and 370Nm. Both models are front wheel driven through a six speed automatic gearbox.

In a short loop in the Hartbeespoort dam area, we had the opportunity to test the petrol version on both tar and gravel.

Despite the 5008’s size, it scurries along and you’ll pass the national speed limit without too much fuss but, fully loaded with passengers and luggage, you’ll have to plan passing manoeuvres carefully – especially at high altitudes.

One thing Peugeot have always done well is suspension and it’s no different on the 5008, soaking up bumps and road anomalies.

Perhaps though Peugeot should look at the inside cover of the glass sunroof and make it denser, to allow for less sun during the hot South African summers.

Safety features abound, with an Automatic Emergency Braking System (AEBS) and Distance Alert Systems (GT Line), Active Lane Keeping Assistance, Driver attention warning, Smart Beam Assistance, Speed sign recognition and speed suggestion, Adaptive cruise control with stop feature, Active blind spot monitoring, Park Assist and Visio Park (180° vision on the GT Line).

No modern car would be complete without decent connectivity, so you get Mirror Screen that displays a copy of your smartphone to the car’s touchscreen and is compatible with Android Auto and Apple Carplay. A button on the steering wheel will activate smartphone voice recognition for Android S-Voice and Apple’s Siri.

Overall, the 5008 is very smart package and well priced, but South Africans can be a bit finicky and it remains to be seen whether buyers will be as enthusiastic about the brand as Gobille.

PRICES

1.6 THP Allure: R534 900

1.6 THP GT-Line: R579 900

2.0 HDi Allure: R554 900

2.0 HDi GT-Line: R599 900

Prices include a five-year/100 000km warranty and service plan.

Drive360