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When you think of Peugeot 108, what comes to mind is budget-finish & klaar!

THE RAND traded firmer against the dollar in a critical week for South Africa as the Medium-term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) ahead of minister of finance Tito Mboweni's speech.

When you think of Peugeot 108, what comes to mind is budget-finish & klaar!

Another notable concern is the escalating joblessness and tough economic conditions that has plagued SA, albeit the fuel price will be going down soon.

Talk of toughness -we tested the latest budget car offering Peugeot 108 1.0 Active (a dynamite that comes in small packages).

Compact and small in terms of leg room, this is for city slickers who want optimal user-friendliness, connectivity and excellent fuel economy from their budget cars. Yes, tough economic conditions calls for re-configuring that budget.

So these sought-after cars with big engines will be a thing of the past, if the latest Peugeot 108 is anything to go by…

Powered by a 1.0-litre naturally-aspirated 3-cylinder petrol engine, we took for a long haul to KwaMhlanga in Mpulamalanga, to grace the wedding of the AmaNdebele King and a Lesotho Princess.

Ahem, that’s the price we pay for hobnobbing with Kings and Queens, Premiers, MECs, business-figures, Chiefs, ex-ambassadors and all and sundry, as the sweltering heat took over and guests running for cover in stretched tents.

A 5minute-rain and soothing wind failed to dampen the mood of well-wishers though.

But as luck would have it, the slick hatchback and punchy 108 was the obvious head-turner (believe or not), having only launched a month ago, alongside the SUV 5008, that prompted the Managing Director of Peugeot Citroen South Africa, Xavier Gobille, commenting that, this Peugeot brand relaunch is the first wave of attack by the group, with more to come.

The 108 1.0 Active comes loaded with an impressive level of kit from LED daytime running lights, a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone mirror-link functionality (Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility), Bluetooth, a height-adjustable steering wheel, electric windows to height-adjustable driver’s seat.

The safety specification is commendable too, with 6 airbags, stability control, anti-lock brakes, hill start assist and ISOfix child-seat mounting points.

As with small cars, despite loading bay (claiming capacity of 227 litres), which can be increased to 868 litres if you fold the rear seats down, space limitations is a problem, thanks to a small cooler-bag we had for loads of H20 as a result of 35degrees celcius in that province.

Powered by a 3-pot motor that produces peak outputs of 53 kW and 93 Nm, a 5-speed manual gearbox and a low mass of 840 kg, the 108 made a statement against its competitors Hyundai 120, Nissan and Toyota Aygo, along the deadly Moloto Rd, that leads you from Pretoria to KwaMhlanga.

However, on a steep-hill one had to work extra hard on gears to execute brisk overtaking manoeuvres, although that was minimal on Moloto Rd. Yes, the 3.0 little engine, if you may, wasn’t shy to play along as it claimed 5.2 L/100 km, although the manufacturer claims it’s new 108 falls under the carbon tax threshold of 99 g/100 km.

The 108 is fitted with 165/65 14-inch tyres, that made it bit unsettled on bumps and potholes that resulted in a front bumper being severely scratched. Bloody Moloto Rd that is…

At the launch the MD of Peugeot Citroen South Africa, Xavier Gobille, said the models were much more than just a car launch.

According to Gobille, Citroen will be making a comeback in South Africa after pulling out of the country in 2017.

He indicated that they were re-entering the market to be “back in the race”.

“Back in the race means that you were out in the pit lanes, but now you have fixed whatever was wrong and you are ready now to join the pack and get into racing,” he said.

Gobille added that it would require a lot of commitment to get into the race and get to the front.

The French born explained that the company currently only has 1% of the market.

“You can look at that and say ‘oh, what a shame to only have a small percentage’ or you can look at it as an opportunity for growth,” he said.

“We are taking drastic measures to ensure that we get back to the leading pack.”

Some of these measures include dropping what Gobille described as “non-performing” dealerships. It is all part of Gobille’s turnaround strategy for the brand. This includes creating an enabling organisation, developing a strong dealership network, improving customer relationship management, marketing efficiency and product enhancement, as well as aftersales efficiency.

So there you have it, Peugeot and Citroen are here to stay.

Dubbed ‘Peugeot Pride’, every 108 comes with a 5-year/100 000 km comprehensive warranty, a 5-year/ 100 000 km comprehensive service plan, roadside assistance, 24-hour customer care contact centre.

It retails for R179 900

Verdict

Performance 1-10 (4)

Fuel 1-10 (5)

Image (Dynamites come in small packages- so is the brand new 108 Peugeot hatchback).

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