Peugeot has streamlined it’s efforts to succeed in the South African car industry. The brand has not seen significant sales for a few years now and reckons that it’s finally got the revised products and support network to turn things around.
The 3008 SUV got the momentum going for the French brand locally in late 2017 bringing a fresh design and energy to Peugeot. You can read about how it faired in a six-way Pitted test conducted by MOTOR earlier this year.
The new tyke on the block is the 108 city hatchback. It’s available for now, only in 1.0 Active specification and seems to be well-equipped for the segment, but more on that later. The 108 comes in at R179 900and is set to battle some fierce established competition like the Kia Picanto, Toyota Aygo and Volkswagen Up!
The 108 features new the Peugeot family face albeit on a miniature scale and manages to not stray too far from the design its 107 forbear. LED day time running lights on the lower reaches of the front bumper, chrome-look surrounds on the grille and the signature Peugeot three-craw-design tail lamps complete the look. The latter is a neat touch when you get to see the 108 parked next to its larger siblings.
Open the driver’s door and it feels satisfyingly hefty for a vehicle of its size and you’re met by a cosy yet funky (read divisive) cabin. The cloth seats feel soft and have contrasting stitching and neat patterns. There are only hard plastics about the interior but a leather chubby wrapped steering wheel is a pleasure to hold as the main point of contact with the car. The ambience is lifted by a two-tone facia and a bright 7-inch infotainment system with MirrorLink, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality dominate the space. Unfortunately, there’s no rev counter but the trip computer is comprehensive and has a fuel consumption log that can be accessed via the infotainment screen.
It was 34 degrees on the Highveld and I can report that the air-conditioning is pretty potent. More impressive, however, is that the 108 comes standard with a segment-leading six airbag count and an array of safety kit. These include a hill hold assist function, ABS, EBD, ISO Fix anchorage points, traction control and electronic stability control.
As the new entry point to the reinvigorated Peugeot brand locally, the manufacturer is at pains to illustrate that the 108 is a sub-premium offering within the budget segment. This may sound contradictory but once behind the wheel, it makes sense.
The 108 has been engineered for comfort and refinement and on the admittedly short launch route in the Northern Cape, the 108 held its own over some shockingly rough tarmac at speed. Dealing with potholes and imperfections with confidence offering a solidify not found in budget competitors like the Datsun Go or Renault Kwid for example. Weighing in at only 840 kg it rides surprisingly like a more grown-up vehicle. Continental EcoContact rubber rutter on all four corners and a well-weighted steering system all aid this feeling of composure too.
Under the bonnet is a 1.0-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine good for a modest 53 kW and 93 Nm. At the reef, a foot to the floor driving style needs to be adopted to make progress and overtaking needs careful planning, the gearing is also long we managed an indicated 100 km/h in second gear. However, thanks to its lack of mass the tall gearing 108 should be exceptionally efficient. The claimed consumption comes in at 4.3 l/100 km, and with 99 g/km of CO2 emitted from the tailpipe, there is no emissions tax added to the selling price.
The breathless motor can be forgiven as its competitors are not much more potent. The Volkswagen Up has near-identical performance figures. We look forward to experiencing the 108 for a longer period on more familiar roads to see how well it performs at the coast. I suspect it’d operate optimally down here.
As far as first impressions go the 108 is one to seriously consider for the money especially that a standard 5 year/100 000 km service plan and warranty ship as standard. Peugeot has had concerning issues with parts availability in the past and MD Xavier Gobille promises that should a part not be made available in 48 hours customers will receive a courtesy vehicle. Only time will tell if this positive approach to customer satisfaction will materialize.
In a nutshell
Peugeot 108 1.0 Active
A serious budget car that’s dead set on taking on VW’s Up!
Unique facia design not to all tastes
Engine: 998 cc, 3-cylinder
Power: 53 kW @ 6 000 rpm, 93 Nm @ 4 400 rpm
Performance: 0-100km/h 13.1 sec, top speed 160 km/h
Tyres: 14-inch (steel with plastic covers)
Economy: 4.3 l/100 km
Transmission: 5-speed manual
CO2 emissions: 99 g/km
Price: R179 900