PUG-NA­CIOUS

Peu­geot gets fair dinkum about Aus­tralian shop­ping lists with the RCZ coupe and 408 sedan, due next year

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News - NEIL DOWLING neil.dowling@cars­guide.com.au

SWEEP­ING changes to its model line-up could put Peu­geot on the shop­ping lists of thou­sands of buy­ers for the first time.

In a con­certed ef­fort to drive it­self out of its niche cul-de-sac, the French brand will re­lease six new mod­els from this week un­til late 2013, in­clud­ing a fam­ily van, re­vised sports coupe, sedan and the star­tling 208 baby hatch.

The roll-out starts with the 208. Though os­ten­si­bly a re­place­ment for the long-inthe-tooth 207, it is a gi­ant leap that trans­forms what was once a cute city car into one that has the chas­sis dy­nam­ics and price bracket to take a nip at Volk­swa­gen’s heels and those of the ma­jor Asian play­ers.

Peu­geot gen­eral man­ager Bill Gillespie says the in­clu­sion of the mod­els, plus a full year’s sales of the ex­ist­ing 508 and 4008 SUV, will add 15 per cent to its 2011 sales tally of 5220. Peu­geot made friends with its capped-price ser­vice pro­gram but its chief at­trac­tion is com­bin­ing French style with Asian prices.

But de­spite grow­ing in­ter­est in the light car seg­ment— not least with Volk­swa­gen’s $13,990 Up— Peu­geot won’t bring in its small­est model, the 107. In­stead the 208 starts the range with a 1.2-litre three- cylin­der engine that re­flects the global trend to small-ca­pac­ity mo­tors.

Gillespie says Aus­tralia gets a booted ver­sion of the 308, to be called the 408, by April. This will be joined by the 5008 seven-seat peo­ple-mover based on the Citroen C4 Pi­casso.

In March a re­designed RCZ coupe ar­rives. Asked if it would be joined by a big brother in the form of the Onyx con­cept, Gillespie says he doesn’t know. ‘‘ Onyx is a show­case of tech­ni­cal equip­ment and ex­otic ma­te­ri­als. It could be­come a sports car or it could be the next gen­er­a­tion RCZ.’’

The 5008 will take over the seven-seat du­ties of the out­go­ing 4007.

Twofor the road: Peu­geot’s RCZ coupe (main photo) and 408 sedan, both due next year

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