The last-mentioned is easy: four-door bakkies represent poor value and local manufacturers see them as cash cows, so they’re overpriced in view of their simple construction and – mostly - low technology. The judges don’t vote for them and event Volkswagen’s Amarok, a trendsetter in the marketplace, fared poorly last year.
SUVs also carry some baggage, literally and figuratively, and tend to be expensive because they’re invariably imported with demand outstripping supply. Manufacturers to price them on availability rather than value…the market will take the number allocated to our tiny but highly-aspirational market, whatever they cost.
MPVs are a little different. They’re jack of all trades, masters of none, a compromise acknowledged in their very name. And who really wants that? Least of all a judging panel which in in terms of their life phase can’t really get their head around the MPV concept.
Which brings us to the Peugeot 5008, a large, 5+2 seater aimed at those who have real family commitments, and want the comfort, space, and safety of a modern people-carrier.
The version in the 2012 competition is the 2.0 HDi, and it is a truly magnificent engine: creamy smooth (you’re blissfully unaware that it is a turbodiesel until you get to the upper reaches of the rev range), frugal and with loads of torque. This powerplant is only available with a six-speed manual and I’ve been driving an auto mated to the turbocharged petrol engine…but I can’t help feeling that what’s needed is an intelligent automatic mated to the oilburner.
Not having to concern oneself with gear-changing duties is a real boon in larger vehicles and the 5008 does feel somehwat bulky around town, casting a sizeable shadow. Only having two pedals also makes sense in a vehicle designed for families and anyone who has driven the school run with a bunch of kids on board will appreciate an automatic’s ability to reduce stress levels.
I also liked features such as the observation mirror, allowing the driver to monitor goings-on in the rear compartment without actually turning around.
A more powerful drawcard is the huge volume inside the body and with the individual second-row seats folded there’s a wide, long and flat surface and with the front passenger seat also able to fold, an object measuring 2,76 metres can be carried. Maximum luggage volume in this guise is a massive 2 506 litres, adding credibility to the multi-purpose tag. A safety net can be erected behind the driver/passenger compartment when a van layout is employed.
As you’d expect there are plenty of other safety features, including all the current braking technology, six airbags, and ISOFIX mounting points so that a child seat can be ‘hard-wired’ into place.
All in all, the 5008 is a great family vehicle and a brilliant choice if you’re in need of lots of space, a plush ride and plenty of comfort and convenience. But it isn’t a COTY contender for two reasons: the manual box isn’t the natural companion for the HDi engine and the judges are simply too young and inexperienced to appreciate the 5008 for what it is.