MANY motorists consider that the MPV or people carrier is a comparatively new segment of the motor market but younger car owners in particular will be surprised to discover that in fact French car maker Peugeot launched a seven seater family estate over 40 years ago, writes Bryan Longworth.
It was the 504 Familiale estate which had a third row of seats in the rear load area and I remember it becoming a very popular Peugeot so it is not really surprising that the company is very experienced at producing people carriers.
I mention this because I have just been road testing one of the latest MPVs to come from the French company, the 5008 Allure e-HDi 112, and in the Press publicity for this car Peugeot refer to the 505 family estate which succeeded the legendary 504.
This particular car is the latest in the range and it is also the most economical with energy saving tyres, stop/start system and a six speed automatic gearbox all of which help to produce a combined fuel consumption of 55.39mpg.
It is powered by a 112bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine which gives it a top speed of 114mph, a zero to 62mph time of 12.6 seconds, CO2 emissions of 132g/km and it costs £23,845 on the road.
A feature of the 5008 is its versatile seating system in the second and third rows which all easily fold flat into the floor to increase load capacity and it is also quite easy to place the seats back in position unlike some people carriers.
There is plenty of room for three in the middle row and the two rear seats offer quite a bit of space although with them in position as with most MPVs there is not a lot of load space available.
The test car had a six speed automatic transmission which worked quite well but was the first automatic I can recall that did not have a P for parking slot on the rather quirky gear shift lever - the system could also be used manually via steering wheel paddles.
The steering system offered enjoyable driving and the 5008 had good handling qualities for this sort of vehicle when it was being driven with just me aboard and when there were several passengers in the ample and comfortable seats.
But the one thing that did really impress on the test car was the head up display in front of the steering wheel whereby the driver can easily see the speed of the vehicle in large bright orange numerals on a clear plastic screen screen that rises when the ignition is switched on.
It provided the most user friendly digital speed display I have come across and it also included a distance alert system which warns the driver when the 5008 is getting too close to vehicles in front.
So Peugeot with the 5008 is continuing the good work it started in 1970 when it had the foresight to realise there was a big potential in producing people carriers with their seven seater Familiale family estate.
My Verdict: One of the best people carriers.