Warrants a fresh look
AUSSIES had a look at the French menu, decided Citroen was too exotic and Peugeot too expensive, and chose the reinvented Renault — its tally of nearly 9000 sales this year is double that of Citroen and Peugeot combined.
To pique local appetites again, Peugeot has crunched the numbers and reckons its new 208 priced from just $15,990 is pretty tasty.
That’s $800 less than main rival Renault Clio but there are plenty of arguably better Korean and Japanese small cars for less.
Cutting ingredients to get its base car to that price, Peugeot fits a tiny 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine, old school five-cog manual and not-so-chic plastic wheel covers.
With no structural changes, 208’s five-star safety rating will carry over but Peugeot may yet cop criticism — its reversing camera is still a $300 option on all variants.
This a segment dominated by female buyers, 80 per cent of whom tick the box for an automatic. They might give the good-looking 208 a cursory glance but they’re not that likely to buy the cheapie.
A longer warranty would be enticing, because the current three years/100,000km just doesn’t cut it.
Citroen does a six-year warranty and potential Peugeot buyers would warm to similar reassurance.
The 208 range opens with the 1.2-litre Access manual for $15,990. Add $3000 for an automatic with a more powerful 1.2-litre turbo, also the drivetrain in the mid-range Active for $21,990, the Allure at $25,990 and GT-Line at $27,490. The four-cylinder turbo GTI, manual only, is $30,990.
Four option packs personalise the car and there is a textured matt paint option, first seen on the 30th Anniversary GTI.
A redesigned bumper and new, wider radiator grille give the 208 a more muscular, aggressive stance.
For the test drive, perhaps not surprisingly, the base Access was unavailable. We got to the drive the 1.2-litre turbo, now paired with a Japanesemade Aisin six-speed auto, then had a quick blat in the impressive GTI.
The turbo triple and sixspeeder replace the previous four-cylinder 1.6 and four-speed auto. The turbo delivers slightly less power but nearly 25 per cent more torque for much swifter takeoffs and mid-range acceleration
It’s also about 20 per cent thriftier, with a claimed 5.4L/100km, thanks in part to the adoption of engine stopstart (we used 7.1L on test).
The perky turbo delivers a sportier drive than before, whether in sport or manual mode. In regular driving, it is calibrated to get into high ratios early to save fuel.
PRICE $15,990-$30,990 WARRANTY 3 years/100,000km CAPPED SERVICING $2460-$2895 over 5 years SERVICE INTERVAL 12 months/15,000km RESALE N/A SAFETY 5 stars ENGINE 1.2-litre 3-cyl, 60kW/118Nm; 1.2-litre 3-cyl turbo, 81kW/205Nm; 1.6-litre 4-cyl turbo, 153kW/300Nm TRANSMISSION 5 and 6-speed man, 6-speed auto; FWD THIRST 4.5L-5.4L/100km DIMENSIONS 3973mm (L), 1739mm (W), 1460mm (H), 2538mm (WB) WEIGHT 975kg-1160kg SPARE Full-size 0-100KM/H 6.8 secs-13.9 secs
There are no paddle-shifters but gear changes are substantially quicker — you can shift gears manually using the stick.
Carried over from the previous model, the unusually small 35cm steering wheel is light and easy to use in all variants. There’s a flatbottomed version in the GTI.
The suspension could do with some fine tuning to suit local conditions — instead of soaking up small irregularities it can be harsh and jiggly off the freeway.
This may be why Peugeot shied away from larger wheels and stuck with 15, 16 and 17-inch rims.
Someone needs to tell HQ that Aussies need reassurance. European cars have an iffy reputation for reliability and a more realistic warranty is required. In this market, some brands have seven years’ cover.