Peugeot 208 aims to beat the odds
Offerings like this prove that one of the biggest mergers in the automotive industry has certain gems in its stable
This month Stellantis celebrated its first full year in SA. In case you missed it, the company is a result of one of the biggest mergers in the automotive industry. Under its local umbrella sits Fiat, Fiat Professional, Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Citroën, Jeep, Opel, Peugeot and Mopar. Globally, the portfolio includes Chrysler, Dodge, DS Automobiles, Lancia, Maserati, Ram and Vauxhall. Maserati is represented in SA but carries on as an independent player on our shores, for the time being anyway.
Admittedly, there are quite a few technicalities to be aware of — details that perhaps only the anoraks will pay attention to. But what we can probably all identify is that Stellantis houses a number of brands that have been historical underachievers in the context of our market. And not because their products are of a poor standard. Limited dealer network, perceptions about parts availability and other legacies have put the brakes on various attempts at comebacks. But maybe things will be different this time around.
One hopes so, because offerings like the new Peugeot 208 prove that the company has certain gems in its stable. The French hatchback is a compelling addition to the B-segment, dominated by the Volkswagen Polo in sales, with rivals such as the Mazda 2, Hyundai i20, Kia Rio, Renault Clio and Honda Fit sharing the rest of the market. Oh, we also cannot forget the Opel Corsa and Citroën C3 — cousins to the Peugeot 208. You might agree that the Peugeot is the nicest to look at from this trio: discreet grey hue aside, the 208 stands out with its feline-inspired cues and chic proportions.
In the middle-range Allure tested here (R365,900), power comes from a turbocharged-petrol with three cylinders. It displaces 1,199cc, producing 74kW and 205Nm. It uses a six-speed manual. The ride is tuned for suppleness. While the transmission has a vague feel about it, with play in the shifter, power delivery is sprightly. By the end of the test period the 208 showed an average consumption of 6.2l/100km.
Interior quality is praiseworthy. Soft textures, faux carbon fibre elements and trendy green accents were the among the highlights. The fascia design incorporates many charming attributes, including a keyboard-like switchgear panel, a curved dashboard and a 3D instrument cluster. Though there are ergonomic trade-offs to contend with. The tiny steering wheel tends to obscure vision of the cluster ahead.
Boot space is 311 litres, which is not spectacular. Consolation prize is the presence of an “almost-full-size” spare wheel (this is the exact descriptor in the specifications sheet). Standard fare is generous. The list includes a multifunction steering wheel, automatic LED headlights, automatic climate control, cruise control, rear parking sensors with reverse camera, push-button start, a seven-inch infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple Car Play, 3D instrument cluster, voice recognition and two USB ports. Cloth upholstery is the default fitment. A five-year/100,000km warranty and three-year/60,000km service plan are included.
In short, what we have here is a well-equipped, attractive and keenly-priced B-segment hatchback. Though not completely quirk-free, the 208 certainly deserves a spot on your shortlist in this category.