Peugeot is on the offensive here in SA, which is a good thing in a couple of ways. It shows there's still trust in the country in terms of investment and it introduces some more great products to the market. There's been a serious relaunch of the brand and with that comes a new management structure and a man in charge with a proven rack record of turning business around - Xavier Gobille. At the local launch of the Peugeot 5008 and 108, Xavier took us through the new structure, ideas and processes planned. While it's easy to say these things, there's a certain enthusiasm behind what he says that tells you he's going to do what he did to Renault and turn things around. Dealerships have been given an overhaul too, those not doing what they need to do have been cut out and there's a new promise in place to sort out any backlogs of repairs and complaints in an attempt to regain customer favour too. The brand has a deep history on this continent, often being credited with helping build, well, everything. You'll still find classic Peugeots doing duty in the most remote towns and villages. Here in SA Peugeot's footprint dates back to 1902 when the first one was imported by Benjamin & Lawton. By 1973 the brand was a top-seller and in that year had over 17 000 registrations, mostly the 203, which had been produced here since 1950 . Mad numbers, even by today's standards. In '85 the political climate saw the company retreat, returning in '95 with McCarthy as the importer. This arrangement lasted until 2002 when PMSA was formed. Now in 2019 we see the aforementioned relaunch of the brand with a fresh approach to everything.
Accompanying the relaunch of the brand was the introduction of two new models to the Peugeot lineup, the diminutive 108 and the rather beefy 5008. One is an A-segment competitor that in typically French fashion brings a lot to the table albeit in a rather small package. The other is a premium SUV that doesn't only have it all on paper, it has striking looks and offers up some serious competition to the usual suspects.
The 108 is the company's entry into the A-segment, where it's a budget car war that's being hard-fought. If you want to compete in this segment you can't just chuck anything in the mix, it needs to be rather good these days, even though they're sub-R200k cars the level of spec is starting to rival much more expensive offerings in other segments. Spec includes LED daytime running lights on the exterior safety side, while inside the lil thing offers up six airbags, something I'm sure no other car in the segment has. More safety comes from ABS, hill start assist and stability control. Still inside we also find a 7-inch touch screen heading up the infotainment system that features bluetooth as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Powering (almost) the 108 is a 1.0-litre 3-cylinder with 53kW and 93 NM of torque that's mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. Luckily it's a light car, tipping the scales at just 840kg, because up at the reef it does feel like it needs more. On the drive, it proved to be a competent lil thing, decent steering feedback, good brakes and good handling. We were two up and the aircon was off, and slowing down at a yield sign while keeping it in 2nd to pull off again, it almost stalled. Probably why most launches involving small motors are at the coast, 17% more power is noticeable. It's not a bad thing, just something to be mindful of and I'm sure driving styles will adapt to accommodate smooth drives. The claims are 5.2-litres/100km and it will do that if you feather it. That said, the test drive was quite short, a longer stint would see better numbers. The thing is, at the price point and what you're getting in the package as a whole, this little Peugeot is hard to beat. At R179 900 there's also a 5-year/100 000km warranty PLUS a 5-year/100 000km service plan, and that makes this entry into the Peugeot family a pretty damn good deal.
The Peugeot 5008 was the second car revealed at the brand relaunch, and as you can see it's an SUV with some rather striking visuals. This thing looks really good, it's tall, chunky and has curves in all the right places and I reckon it's one of the best looking 7-seaters on the market now. Well for me anyway, it's a fresh look, something different, something, well, French. The headlights split by an extension from the bumper, a lower spoiler, pronounced arches and door cladding and wheels that actually suit the shape of the body make this 5008 something worth looking at, especially the GT Line with the gloss black roof - yuuuus!
In typically French fashion, this thing is loaded with tech, which is why the brand has such a bog share of the European market. The 5008 has the Peugeot i-Cockpit in play, and it's brilliant. It looks like some futuristic rendering, except it's real and in front of you. The digital speedo cluster/display and the adjoining 8" touchscreen heading up the infotainment system is brilliant, and it's customisable so you can tailor it to be more you. The leather-bound multifunction steering wheel is smaller than most, but it feels great in hand and makes driving the big SUV feel more car-like. I'm a fan. As with many SUV, there's a few drive modes available via controls on the centre console, and with intelligent Advanced Grip Control technology and Hill Assist Descent Control (HADC) in play the 5008 take take you safely over a variety road conditions and terrain.
On the safety front there's an array of the things looking out for you; but the 5008 also features a multi-purpose camera at the top of the windscreen, 12 ultrasound sensors, a radar, and a pair if 180° video cameras. Driving-assistance features includes speed-limit sign recognition with recommendations, Active Safety Brake with Distance Alert, lane-departure warnings, active blind-spot monitoring, a driver-attention alert, and adaptive cruise control with a Stop feature. If parking the big SUV is a problem, there's systems to help with that too. If you option the premium audio you get some top quality Focal components, and in a Bluetooth audio test of some of my usual listening stuff, the system is just brilliant! With mood lighting, multipoint massage seats and a choice of three scents available via an integrated fragrance diffuser the cockpit of the 5008 is somewhere you WANT to be. If I had one of these I'd be constantly inventing reasons to go for a drive. Being a 7-seater means the seating can be configured in a few ways, and if you lay everything flat into a table-top config to expand the load space, you can free up as much as 780 cubic metres and items of up to 3.2m in length can be loaded.
There's two engines available in the Peugeot 5008 range, a 1.6 turbocharged petrol lump and a 2.0 turbodiesel. The 1.6 is great, it's a punchy engine with good power delivery, rated at 121kW and 240Nm. I've sampled it in other models and I like it. That said, I think if the car was 7-up it might feel like it needs more torque to shift that much weight. The diesel lump is bigger in capacity so over and above the usual higher torque it gives, the turbocharger sees the official claimed figure up at a healthier 370Nm with the kilowatts at 110. If you're a frequent people transporter, that's probably the one to get, but if you're doing the usual daily slog and only strapping the family in on weekend and getaways, the 1.6 will me more than adequate.
It's a great drive on both tar and gravel, and when the latter threw up those harsh corrugations, the 5008 soaked it up and the ride remained super smooth. You never feel like you're driving a bulky SUV and instead a solidly build big car, and it's just so damn comfortable that my drive home from the launch in my Corsa was torturous in comparison. Shame, she's an old girl, but I love her. The Peugeot 5008 has more than enough going for it to sway buyer from the usual premium SUV brands, and with the new drive to get the Peugeot flag flying high in SA again, there's no reason to not consider a French option.
As with the 108, the 5008 also has a 5-year/100 000km warranty as well as a 5-year/100 000km service plan, and the pricing looks to be competitive too. The first trim listed is the Allure 1.6 THP and that's priced at just R534 900 to start, while the 2.0 HDi jumps to just R554 900. The range-topping GT Line with the 1.6 THP lump starts at R579 000 and rises to R599 900 for the 2.0 HDi. Again, that's some good pricing, especially for fully imported, tech-packed SUVs. For more, head over to the Peugeot main site.