Loaded with standard equipment, is the bang-for-buck Peugeot 108 worth considering over the segment’s established rivals?

With myriad offerings from Japan, Korea and France already vying for cash-strapped (or cash-savvy) consumers’ attentions at the bottom end of the market, another option has recently joined the fray in the shape of the stylish Peugeot 108. But has the release of the little French car made the decision more difficult, or will it enjoy only niche appeal?

The sole model in the local line-up, the 1,0 Active certainly looks chic, especially in this Plum colour scheme. A brighter hue would significantly highlight its contoured sheet metal, though. Boasting similar design cues as larger Peugeots and familiar dimensions from the related Toyota Aygo, the French firm’s smallest vehicle does not look out of line with the rest of the range. The front apron is endowed with edgy headlamp clusters housing halogen headlights and LED daytime-running lights, plus standard foglamps. The sculpted taillamps, meanwhile, are equipped with Peugeot’s familiar lion-claw motif.

The funky hatchback’s exterior can be personalised with an array of items. Our test unit was fitted with barcode-styled vinyl decals (a R3 571 option) and a set of side-mirror caps with a distinctive purple-and-white tartan pattern (R1 596). The key can be specified to match the latter for R981.

On the inside, the exposed purple body panels of our press car injected the otherwise two-tone black-and-grey cabin with a dash of colour. Although soft-touch materials are obviously absent, the hard plastics feel solid. Here, the seven-inch touchscreen display – replete with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Bluetooth connectivity – can be navigated via a multifunction steering wheel. What impressed CAR’s testers the most was the 108’s standard safety equipment. The Peugeot features a class-leading six airbags, ESC and hill-start assist.

Built on the same platform as the Aygo, at 3 475 mm front to rear the 108 is 10 mm longer than the sharper-edged Toyota. According to our measurements, rear passengers are treated to an additional 24 mm of kneeroom while boot capacity is 152 litres. Utility space is nearly 200 litres less than that of its key competitors.

The cabin remains snug, though, and seated aft, even more so, especially in terms of headroom. The majority of the CAR team commented unfavourably on the latch-operated rear windows. The hindquarters are better suited to those of finer stature (fortunately, Isofix child-seat anchorages are standard fitment here). Headroom up front is acceptable, however, and elbowroom just about sufficient when two burly blokes occupy the front seats.

There is an upside to the Peugeot’s diminutive measurements: it excels round town. The ride is comfy and, thanks to direct steering, the vehicle fills gaps in traffic with aplomb. As a result of its 9,8-metre turning circle, manoeuvrability is excellent.

Dispatching 53 kW and 93 N.m of torque to the front axle, the free-revving 1,0-litre triple is a generally refined unit, becoming strained only at higher revs. Although the 108 completed the 0-100 km/h sprint at a leisurely pace, in city driving the slick five-speeder’s short first and second ratios serve up enough pep, while the taller gears aid fuel consumption (although performance in the top three ratios was too languid for it to accelerate from 120-140 km/h on our test strip). On our mixed-used fuel route, the Peugeot returned 4,80 L/100 km.



TEST SUMMARY

Available only in Active specification, the 108 doesn’t want for much spec. Peugeot has thrown in a generous range of comfort and safety equipment, an absorbent suspension setup and sufficient punch for urban driving; all packaged in a stylish design backed by Japanese drivetrain reliability and a best-in-class standard service plan of five years/100 000 km. Two members of the CAR team were so impressed with the Peugeot, they scored it 80 and 81 respectively. For reference, the accomplished Suzuki Swift 1,2 GL MT netted a rating of 80/100 when we tested it in the September 2018 issue.

We remain curious as to how the 108 will fare in our market where brand cachet plays a large role. That said, since its introduction on local soil, the fun-to-drive 108 has made choosing a boutique hatch an increasingly difficult task. It’s a worthy addition to this segment and deserves to feature on many a shortlist.

ROAD TEST SCORE

108 Peugeot 108 1.0 Active
78 / 100
  • Price: R194,900
  • 0-100 km/h: 13.1
  • Power ([email protected]/min): 53 KW @ 6000
  • Torque ([email protected]/min): 93 N.m @ 4400
  • Top speed: 160
  • Claimed cons. (l/100 km): 4.3 l/100 KM's
  • C02 emissions (g/km): 99 g/KM