Due to the Vat increase, the cost of fuel going up plus the domestic budget under even more pressure, motoring is going to become even more expensive in 2011.
Manufacturers have greeted the New Year eager for business and there are numerous offerings such a nil or low Vat rates, 0% or low interest finance, free servicing, free insurance and long warranties.
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Peugeot was the UK's fifth largest selling brand last year with an improved 5.38% share of the new car market with a 6.5% increase in sales and 109,324 registrations.
Much of this increase has been brought about by the addition of their excellent 3008 crossover range with 14,000 sales and the new 5008 medium sized MPV with 4,250 sales, and it would have been more if the demand from other countries wasn't so high.
Conscious of the financial pressure on the family budget Peugeot have introduced an innovative way to fix the major motoring costs for three years.
Peugeot Just Add Fuel
Their unique Just Add Fuel® personal finance package enables customers to wrap up all the major motoring costs - vehicle cost, insurance, warranty and servicing, plus roadside assistance - into a fixed monthly payment. All the customer needs to do is Just Add Fuel.
A 5008 Envy 1.6 VTi petrol MPV seven-seat people carrier launched just 12 months ago can be run at a cost of £425 a month for three years using this Just Add Fuel scheme.
There is a deposit of £2,020 to pay as well, mileage is limited to 6,667miles a year and if the leaser decides to keep the vehicle there is an undisclosed final purchase element to be paid as well. Strikes me this is more of a convenient way to go motoring rather than a cost effective one.
MPVs on the market
Today's Euro 5 compliant Peugeot 5008 seven seaters for 2011 range in price from £17,895 to £24,845. There is a choice of Active, SR, Sport, Envy and Exclusive trim and equipment levels with the choice of 1.6 petrol and 1.6 and 2.0-litre HDi turbodiesel engines and auto transmission options on some models as well.
MPVs or people carriers are big business for UK dealers, they have been popular since the early 1980's when Mitsubishi, Toyota and Renault developed the multi-seat people carrier concept; although Volkswagen and various American brands had what we now call 'day vans' long before that.
Today we have small medium and large five and seven seat MPVs with petrol and diesel power options and be sure a hybrid is just around the corner.
With the introduction of new generation MPVs such as the Vauxhall Meriva, Ford C-Max/Grand C-Max, Peugeot 5008, Citroen Picasso/Grand Picasso, VW Touran/Sharan and SEAT Alhambra, sales were at an all time high in 2010.
This year we receive the new seven-seater Vauxhall Zafira and Toyota Verso ranges so the market will expand as customers consolidate their work and social motoring needs and costs into one do-it-all, nice to drive, good looking, affordable vehicle that doesn't shout 'family taxi' with the styling.
Launched in January 2010 the Peugeot 5008, with five doors and seven seats laid out in three rows, found favour straightaway with the motoring media and consistently received awards in its launch year. Now the latest Euro 5 exhaust emission models required for 2011 are on sale.
Peugeot 5008 Exclusive 1.6 HDi automatic
Having briefly driven the 5008 on its debut early last year I have just renewed my time with this family-friendly package in the form of the Exclusive 1.6 HDi 112 with the EGC electronic automated clutchless transmission and carrying a price tag of £23,195.
The major change for this version is the new engine which replaces the long serving PSA 110 HDi turbodiesel unit used by Peugeot, Citroen and others.
Now in line with its new title it develops 112bhp instead of 110bhp and in the Exclusive guise with 17-inch alloy and the EGC semi auto transmission it is cleaner with CO2 emissions of 139g/km instead of 140g/km and BIK company car tax drops from 20 to 19% as a result. Vehicle Excise Duty remains the same at £110 a year. Fuel economy for the Combined Cycle stays at 55.4mpg.
With the six speed manual transmission the new 112bhp unit with 17-inch wheels has CO2 emissions of 144g/km instead of 145g/km, BIK tax is 20% and fuel economy is the same at 53.3mpg.
Be aware that with the 144g/km of CO2 emissions the manual version of the 1.6 HDi 112bhp has an annual VED road tax bill of £125. In respect of running costs it is worth paying the extra £550 for the EGC six speed semi auto box over the manual transmission but the driving experience is less refined.
Peugeot ECG transmission
The EGC unit has neutral, drive or reverse modes plus a sideways position to push the lever into to engage the sequential gearchange option. This Tiptronic type mode can also be operated from steering column mounted paddles.
I found the EGC unit to be slow in operation in auto mode and it hung onto gears too long during acceleration and didn't engage fifth or sixth gears soon enough on winding country roads.
Driving these automated manual 'boxes' takes a different driving style and the accelerator needs to be 'feathered' at the change points to get the smoothest performance.
But with the transmission and engine electronics 'talking' to each other to supply the optimum fuel and CO2 saving change-points it becomes a sensible choice.
It was good to use in slow moving or stop/start town traffic and good on open roads 'in the cruise', but in between it was dull and not very responsive - however it saves on running costs.
The 5008 models all have ESP electronic stability programme as standard and an automatic electronically operated handbrake with hill assist which people either love or hate. I'm in the latter camp as I find them generally slow to use.
Peugeot 5008 1.6 HDi engine
The updated 1.6 HDi engine remains a four cylinder common-rail turbodiesel unit but now has eight valves instead of 16 which seems a backwards step as most modern Euro 5 units use a 16-valve layout and many have a variable valve timing configuration.
Still having eight larger valves rather than 16 smaller ones seems to have provided better engine efficiency, lower friction levels because of fewer components to operate and it is lighter in weight.
The engine mapping has also been changed to enhance the efficiency. Torque is now 177lb ft from 1,750rm but this increases briefly to 191lb ft during the 'overboost' mode under hard acceleration.
The latest version of this engine remains strong, flexible, responsive and fuel efficient. It is a good and capable workhorse. My car's road test fuel economy was 44mpg covering all types of driving conditions.
5008 dimensions and styling
In all other respects the Peugeot 5008 for 2011 remains very much the same. At 4.5 metres in length with seating for seven and boot space ranging from 679-litres with all the seats raised to a massive 2,506-litres with the middle and rear rows folded flat into the floor. The seat raising, lowering and sliding operations are easy to use.
The looks are very aerodynamic with its TGV high speed train style front end leading to what appears to be a long body. The steeply raked windscreen and front A-pillars look stylish but the B-pillar is moved quite far forward to allow for wide hinged rear side doors for easy access to the middle and third row of seats.
The result of the forward B-pillar positioning is poor headroom for the front door frames and a loss of side visibility for the driver. Headroom inside is generally good apart for the third row passengers.
Envy and Exclusive versions have a full length panoramic glass roof which makes the interior light and airy.
All models have air conditioning, electrically operated front windows, individual fold flat seats for the second and third rows, a five star safety rating and electronic stability programme.
Alloy wheels and satellite navigation appear on SR versions and above.
Rear electric windows, cruise control and rear parking aid are standard for Sport versions and above. The head-up display is included for Envy and Exclusive versions and distance alert is included in the very comprehensive Exclusive version.
The interior is really well laid out and of high quality. My only gripes are that the Exclusive has four control stalks and with the EGC transmission two gearchange levers all mounted on the steering column behind the wheel so they are masked from view. The volume control for the good sound system is tiny and not easy to use either.
It is easy to see why the Peugeot 5008 has become a family favourite because of its futuristic styling, practicality and comfortable driving manners.
Peugeot 5008 MILESTONES
Peugeot 5008 7-Seat Exclusive EGC HDi 112
Engine/transmission: New 1.6-litre, four cylinder HDi turbodiesel, 112bhp, 177lb ft of torque from 1,750rpm, 6-speed EGC electronic semi-auto transmission
Performance: 112mph, 0-62mph 12.6 seconds, 55.4mpg Combined Cycle (44mpg on test), CO2 139g/km, VED road tax £110, BIK company car tax 19%
Insurance group: 17E
Load space: 679-2,506-litres
For: Stylish good looks, practical and versatile family transport, huge load potential, comfortable ride, drives and handles well, uprated engine is flexible and responsive, EGC transmission reduces CO2 emissions and improves fuel economy
Against: EGC semi-auto transmission is an acquired taste as it can be slow to change gears, low headroom through the front passenger doors, B-pillars restrict front side visibility for the driver, rear row of seats have reduced headroom