THE mark of a good tow car is forgetting you are towing.
Granted my caravan is a lightweight at 1350kg but is more than seven metres long so it is hardly a tiddler.
My own Renault Kadjar with its 1.6 litre diesel does an admirable job but I really feel the difference with a more powerful test car hauling my outfit. This has been a good year for towing, Skoda Kodiaq and Kia Sorento have been outstanding but both have been topped, although only just, by Peugeot’s 5008 SUV, the Tow Car of the Year 1550-1699kg category winner.
For a seven seater SUV the 5008s 1800kg towing limit is on the low side, an all wheel drive Volkswagen Passat can pull 2200kg, but the Pug’s lightweight body pays dividends elsewhere. We’ll come to that later.
Lightweight it may be but the 5008 is a capable tow car holding steady in motorway crosswinds and dealing with swaying when overtaking articulated wagons even without trailer stability assist which is standard on the Kia Sorento.
The Pug’s trump card is the two-litre 180bhp turbo diesel mated to the new eight speed automatic gearbox, although reaching eighth gear towing is a rarity. There was a time when caravaners would stay away from autos because they were thirsty and never seemed to be in the right gear.
All that has changed, a good auto, and this one is very good, makes for relaxed towing and my 28.3mpg average was on a par with the Kodiaq and 3mpg better than the Sorento although this is a heavier car with permanent all wheel drive.
This is not available on 5008 but £470 buys a computerised grip control system which gets all four wheels driving if slippage is detected. Not as efficient as the Kia but good enough to give more traction on a wet campsite.
With 400Nm of torque pick up is brisk and steep climbs are dismissed without breaking sweat. Flying solo is positively swift with sixty coming up in around nine seconds.
The dividends mentioned early apply to everyday driving. Where a seven seater would have felt heavy and ungainly a decade ago the 5008s lightweight body is agile and drives with the sharpness of a smaller car.
It is practical too, with a long, flat load area with all the seats down. The middle row are individual, sliding fore and aft and reclining, and all three can take Isofix child fittings. Pity they don’t come out but the two at the back do and are both lightweight and easy to lift out.
Getting to the back seats is fairly easy but is not as comfortable a place to be as the Sorento. Adults would be happy in the Kia but the third row in the 5008 is more for children or a short hop for leggy people. The flip side is class leading boot space with five seats in play.
As well as the Isofix fittings a couple of other thoughtful touches catch the eye like magnets in the roof lining to keep the seat belts in place, and a slot for the boot cover when the third row of seats is being used.
No report on 5008 is complete without a mention for the i-Cockpit. Even if you are not buying the car it is worth going to a showroom to see it. This is 21st century design at its peak and such clever use of technology.
The spectacular graphics in the 12.3 inch driver’s binnacle are interchangeable and can also display precise navigation instructions on a grand scale which allows the passenger to do whatever they want with the central eight inch touch screen. With the piano keyboard style quick keys the whole layout is stylish and classy.
Is there anything I didn’t like? Not really, although I was disappointed with the definition of the rear camera which was fuzzy, and wondered if the felt inserts on the dashboard and door panels will easily stain and be difficult to clean.
Peugeot 5008 GT
£36,460 (starts £24,495)
2-litre turbo diesel; 180bhp
0-62 9.2secs; 134mph
129g/km; 1st year road tax £205
Insurance group 23