JOHANNESBURG - So should you consider Peugeot’s new entrant to the small car market? It really boils down to what you’re looking for in a car. Are you seeking something a little different from the herd, and with a stylish interior and all the latest gadgetry? Then Peugeot’s new 108 might be just up your alley.

Priced at R179 900 the 108 1.0 Active is the only model in the range, and it’s got most of the stuff you’re going to want in a car, without being too extravagant. It’s not the cheapest car on the market, nor is it the biggest car that you’re going to get for this kind of money. Measuring just 3475mm, it’s the second smallest car on the market in terms of length, with only the closely related Toyota Aygo hogging less of the tape measure. Although it feels spacious enough upfront, its small dimensions do make things a bit on the tight side for rear passengers, and the 196 litre boot is not going to take bulky bags, although your shopping should fit.

While similar money will buy you more spacious options like the Suzuki Swift and Hyundai Grand i10, and it’s only a R10 000 stretch to the much bigger Renault Sandero, the 108 is not really aiming at those who need a lot of space. Instead, this car is pitched at young singles who are seeking more in the way of style and perceived quality.

Step inside and you’re greeted by stylish seats with a chequered cloth pattern, and small details like the chrome gear knob play their part in elevating this car beyond the humdrum entry-level norm. It’s also got a touchscreen entertainment system as standard, complete with MirrorLink connectivity for Android, Apple, Windows and RIM devices. 

Despite its entry-level status, Peugeot has been generous with the spec here, and in addition to the aforementioned touchscreen, the 108 comes with a multi-function steering wheel with audio controls as well as front electric windows, air conditioning and central locking. It’s also easy to get comfortable behind the wheel as both the driver’s seat and steering wheel are height-adjustable.

Another big trump card for the Peugeot is its safety credentials. Although its size will inevitably count against it in a collision with a bigger vehicle, the 108 has the best safety rating that you’ll get at this price point, with EuroNCAP having awarded it a four-star overall rating, with both adult and child protection scores amounting to 80 percent.

It’s also got more safety features than you’d expect at the price, with the 108 packing six airbags (including full-length curtain bags), ESP stability control and IsoFix mountings. 

Performance, however, is decidedly average, with power coming from a 1-litre normally aspirated three-cylinder engine that produces 53kW and 93Nm. Peugeot readily admits that the 108 is “naturally suited to urban journeys” and here the little hatch is in its element, and it is rather easy to drive too, thanks to the smooth-shifting five-speed manual gearbox and a clutch that’s comfortable to operate. Despite the short wheelbase, this car also delivers a comfortable ride quality.

Hit the highway, however, and this car’s performance limitations become apparent, and you’re going to struggle to maintain fast-lane speeds in hilly sections at altitude. 

You’d certainly expect this to be an economical car, and the 108 doesn’t disappoint, with our test car having averaged 5.9 litres per 100km in a mixture of urban and highway driving.

VERDICT

Once again, whether the Peugeot 108 is the right car for you depends on what you’re looking for. If space or performance are priorities then you might want to look elsewhere, but if you’re seeking a chic and Eurocentric car that’s packed with comfort and safety features then this Peugeot will be right up your alley. 

Of course, there’s also the Volkswagen Up to consider, which has a similar starting price but with a bit less spec, and you might also be looking at the new Hyundai Atos, which comes at a 20 grand price saving, but keep in mind that it has less safety features and only a two-star safety rating.

If you’re buying a car for your student child, the 108 is an especially appealing package, particularly considering the safety features fitted as standard.

IOL Motoring