BUYING USED: French hatchback under R150 000

  • Image gallery
  • Video
Peugeot 308
The Peugeot 308.

We help choose the ideal car for your needs and your budget…

Age: 40
Budget: R150 000
Status: Single professional
Vehicle type: French hatchback


Our recently qualified nurse has the surname Le Roux and, after studying her ancestral history, would like to indulge in a French car. She’s hoping to nab a three-to-four-year old vehicle to keep her mobile until funds allow for a trade-in on a new car.

The vehicle

Fortunately there is a wide choice of vehicles available in South Africa. For the French offerings, we have Citroën, Renault and Peugeot. Citroën has ceased sales in an increasingly difficult market, but Peugeot will carry on supporting Citroën owners for years to come (and the prices are incredible at the moment).

Our choice: Peugeot 308 1,6 VTi Comfort

0 to 100 km/h: 10,80 seconds

Top speed: 195 km/h
Power: 88 kW
Torque: 160 N.m
CO2: 147 g/km
CAR fuel index: 7,7 L/100 km

There was quite a time gap between the previous-generation 308 and its replacement that arrived here only late in 2014. The new version is a totally different car, now employing turbocharging throughout the range and is priced above R200 000, which places it outside our budget. That means we’re looking at the older version here, with its huge air dam making an over-the-top styling statement.

A Premium model will give you extra airbags (four in total) and auto lights and wipers, Bluetooth and USB connection, all of which are additional to the standard Comfort package. The 1,6-litre engine (code named Prince) was developed for PSA and BMW, and was also used in the 208, 2008 and 3008. It’s a smooth-running unit that produces 88 kW (or 115 kW with turbocharging). Fuel consumption is a strong point, with an index of 7,7 L/100 km.

If the engine has a rattle, have the timing chain examined for wear. An improvement to the tensioner was implemented with a general facelift in 2010.
A rather common fault warning is “anti-pollution system faulty”, and this can relate to a number of things, from fuel injection, fuel pump to catalytic converter issues. Electronic diagnosis will be needed.

Space: 5 seats, 272/1 136 L
Safety and aids: 4 airbags, ABS with EBD and BAS
Cost of tyres: R4 188
Road test: March 2008

Option 2: Renault Mégane 1,6 Dynamique

0 to 100 km/h: 11,09 seconds
Top speed: 195 km/h
Power: 83 kW
Torque: 151 N.m
CO2: 159 g/km
CAR fuel index: 8,28 L/100 km

An easy-to-like car, with light controls, plenty of flair and good fuel economy. The coupé (pictured) might be more attractive, but loses a bit on practicality. The choice between a conventional hatch and the coupé, both facelifted in 2014, is based on how often you convey passengers. We recommend the basic 1,6-litre engine and we tested a 83 kW Coupé in December 2012 (later revised to 81 kW) with a six-speed manual gearbox.

There are higher-powered derivatives utilising, for example, a 1,2-litre turbopetrol, but our buyer does not need the added complexity of turbo power. Note that the 1,6-litre doesn’t have much low-down torque, so you have to use the revs if you are fully loaded or living at high altitude. The Mégane scores highly on the safety front.

The interior is well designed, with user-friendly ergonomics and comfort. The Expression spec level has less equipment than the Dynamique (our choice) and, in 2012, some features were omitted to drop the entry price so take note of the vehicle’s model year. Other things to look out for include electric-window mechanisms that suffer from corrosion, as well as ignition coils that may give in and crank-position sensors. These should all be simple to remedy. A few complaints about headlamp-bulb replacement were noted and some door lock failures, but otherwise reports were mostly positive.

Space: 4/5 seats, 296/880 L (Coupé); 328/992 L (5-dr)
Safety and aids: 6 airbags, ABS with EBD
Cost of tyres: R4 524
Road test: December 2012 (1,6 Coupé)

Option 3: Citroën DS3 1,6 VTi 120

0 to 100 km/h: 9,90 seconds

Top speed: 190 km/h
Power: 88 kW
Torque: 160 N.m
CO2: 136 g/km
CAR fuel index: 7,1 L/100 km

Citroën has a long-established history of producing flair-filled, quirky cars, and the DS3 is no exception, with a shape that really stands out from the crowd. While not to everyone’s taste, it still appeals to many, and there are some distinctive colours; the yellow of our July 2010 1,6 THP test car being a prime example. The engines are taken from the Peugeot/Mini stable, so similar specs and servicing/maintenance details will apply.

Once again, we recommend the base 1,6-litre, not the higher-powered turbo models. The gearbox is a five-speed, not a six-speeder like the one in the Peugeot. A significant reason for recommending the base non-turbo engine vehicles is that there appears to have been a number of problems on the turbocharged engines (1,6 THP). These include failures of water pumps, cooling fans and more frequent and earlier-mileage failure of timing chains and tensioners.

More generally, a few owners had problems with the sliding action of the front seats. The fuel tank is on the small side at 48 litres, as is the boot at 224 litres. Passenger space is not bad, although headroom is restricted. Five seat belts are fitted. The DS3’s service plan lasts only four years or 60 000 km, so cannot match the Renault’s plan of five years/100 000 km.

Space: 4/5 seats, 224/776 L
Safety and aids: 6 airbags, ABS/EBD
Cost of tyres: R6 532
Road test: July 2010  (DS3 1,6 THP Sport)

  • Why not the 206 GTI?

  • Just love Citroen!!

  • rouxenator

    I bought a 10 year old 407 coupe for less and I’m loving it.