War­rants a fresh look

Herald Sun - Motoring - - NEWS -

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.

PEUGEOT 208

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.

VER­DICT

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.

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