If you've ever watched those manga cartoons where it looks like the hero character is down and out but roars back emphatically to become victorious, the Peugeot 108 draws stark comparisons in automotive terms.
Peugeot has been somewhat quiet in terms of new models and at some point it even looked as if they might pack up and leave SA. That is not the case as the French brand has made a comeback with a new 5008 SUV, and now there is a new kid on the block with Peugeot flexing its muscle with the latest version of its compact 108.
South Africa has a fairly strong contingent of small city cars with the likes of the Toyota Aygo, Suzuki Ignis, and Renault Kwid, but the 108 breaks the mould somewhat as a more 'finesse' option to buyers, sharing company with the VW Up, and Kia Picanto. With a price tag of R179 900, it is slightly cheaper than the Up (R180 900) while the Kia Picanto comes in considerably cheaper than both of them at R162 995.
The key is covered in white and purple livery, already giving you the impression that it is something funky and fun to look at. Coated in Glossy purple, this model is exactly what the key suggested.
It doesn't look out of place whether you're sitting in traffic or pulling up at family functions because its modern design is attractive, yet modest. The headlights and LED daytime running lights add a sharper dimension to the front of the car, sharing similar traits with its top-specced siblings. Make your way round the back and its unique 'three claw' rear lights look uber cool, especially at night.
Image: Chad Gallant
Besides being a real looker, it is under the bonnet where the magic really takes place. The 1.0 VTi, 3-cylinder engine is built for one thing and that is to save fuel.
Weighing in at a mere 840kg, it boasts an impressive average fuel consumption of 4.1 litres/100km but it honestly felt much lower than that at times during daily city commuting. In terms of power and performance, it churns out a minuscule 53kW and 93Nm, mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. During the launch in Joburg earlier this year, the car seemed to struggle in the highveld, but down at the coast it's rather punchy.
Surprisingly, the engine does not have a hollow sound from the exhaust as is the case with most cars sporting small capacity engines. It also prides itself on safety with a number of features including Hill Assist system as standard, ABS braking, and Indirect Tyre Under-Inflation Detection system as an added extra on specific models.
Image: Chad Gallant
For a car its size, one would assume that it has little to no boot space, but you are quickly put on your place with a suitable 227-litres and it can be extended to 868 litres by folding the 50/50 split rear bench seat, according to Peugeot. The entire boot lid is made of glass which is cool, but probably not so much if someone nudges you from the back in a fender bender.
On the inside, you are greeted by a 7-inch touchscreen with all your usual radio, Bluetooth and Mirror Screen functions, while Android and Apple users can sync up their devices although Android users might need to work a bit harder.
Keeping tracking of speed and fuel spend is done by an analogue speedometer and an LCD screen placed in the middle. A shift light makes sure your transition between gears is done at the right time. Its the small and simple things both inside and out that matter here.
Image: Chad Gallant
Operate everything with the touch of a button while keeping your eyes on the road with the multi-function steering wheel. The driver and passenger have the convenience of electric windows - air-conditioning and central are standard features.
In a nutshell, it has what it takes to go up against the regulars in its segment being considerably priced and giving buyers another option to consider.
Wheels24's Janine Van der Post says: "The 108 has always been a favourite in its time, and the new model now has so much flair in terms of design. It fits right in as a funky little city car, easy to operate in bustling traffic and in, and out, of tight parking spots.
"Even on the inside the car has a new modern take with sturdy materials and equipment. But most importantly, its best selling-point has to be that frugal fuel consumption, nor does it cost an arm and a leg to fill up. It's the perfect little run-about, no matter anyone's age."
The 108 comes with a 5-year or 100 000km comprehensive warranty and a 5-year or 100 000km comprehensive service plan.