While Peugeot’s been racking up the sales figures in France and the broader Europe, the brand’s been struggling in South Africa. Coming up against market leaders such as Toyota, Volkswagen, Ford, and Nissan, it was always going to take a monumental effort to draw customers in.
Add to that the fact that consumers just don’t have the confidence to invest in Peugeot’s products, and you can understand why the automaker has been struggling to make head or tail of its situation in SA. But all of that is about to change, as Peugeot announced an entire brand relaunch that aims to recover lost ground in terms of sales and consumer confidence. How do they plan to do it?
Simple: with a new business plan and two new models.
Brand relaunch – consumer first
According to Xavier Gobille, new MD of Peugeot Citroën South Africa, Peugeot is entering an entirely new direction with the way they treat customers – both in terms of the sales process and aftersales experience. The effects of this new broom has been so harshly felt that most of Peugeot’s old team has been given the boot. At the relaunch, most of the team members in attendance were new to the brand and was the vigour Gobille came with refreshing.
On the consumer’s part, Gobille noted that unlike past experiences, Peugeot will take care of its local customers and see to their aftersales needs. In doing so, Peugeot opened three warehouses in SA from where they’ll be sourcing parts. These parts are the more popular units you’d need replacing for and is this step an attempt to reduce the parts’ waiting time. In addition, should your vehicle be at the dealer for more than 48 hours, the consumer is entitled to a courtesy car until his/her vehicle is ready for collection.
Peugeot also launched its five-year/100 000km warranty in South Africa, which covers consumers to a great extent. Called ‘Peugeot Pride’, Gobille explained the concept: “We are moving forward in creating a new and exciting future, one that produces great opportunities for our customers. The five-year/100 000km warranty and our pledge to our customers represents a solid commitment by Peugeot to the South African market and its customers and will ensure that we will significantly increase our position in the South African Market place.”
Heading the brand relaunch is Peugeot’s new flagship SUV, the 5008. This seven-seater boasts several impressive highlights, including its practicality and lively engines. Its design is pretty impressive, too, standing out and drawing the right attention to it. From the daytime-running LEDs to the rear lights with its claw-like design, the SUV is a refreshing addition to Peugeot’s range.
Inside, the 5008 boasts with impressive design cues headed by a center console that is both intuitive and easy to use. The piano dials from which one can operate certain functions are easy to operate and to understand. Boot space is an impressive 780L with all three rows of seats erect, but it increases to 1940L when the third and second rows are folded flat. Gaining access to the boot can be done manually, electronically, or by swiping your foot underneath the rear of the car. Removing the two aft seats is easy, too. Just pull the yellow lever and unhook it. Reinserting them is even easier!
A raft of safety features is included in the package, which comprises Active Lane Keeping Assistance, Driver Attention Warning, speed sign recognition and speed suggestion, blind-spot monitoring, park assist, and Visio Park (180-degree vision on GT Line).
On the engine front, the 5008 is powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine (121kW/240Nm) and a 2.0-litre diesel engine (110kW/370Nm). Both units are turbocharged and fitted with a six-speed automatic gearbox. At launch, we sampled the GT Line diesel over a short route. Though the covered distance wasn’t long enough to really get acquainted with the vehicle, it brought enough to the fore for an initial impression.
The diesel engine is particularly eager to perform and all the torque kicks in by 2000rpm. It creates ample thrust to propel the 1540kg SUV forward and the front-wheel drive setup has enough steering feedback. The steering wheel is a particularly striking unit, seeing that it is one of the smallest units in production, today. It offers properly good grip and does it fit snugly between your hands. The design itself is different; in a very good way. This vehicle is a justifiable proposition at the top of Peugeot’s local line-up.
- Peugeot 5008 1.6T Allure – R534 900
- Peugeot 5008 1.6T GT Line – R579 900
- Peugeot 5008 2.0HDi – R554 900
- Peugeot 5008 2.0HDi GT Line – R599 900
Together with the 5008, Peugeot also launched its new 108. Available in Active trim only, the city car makes due with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine that produces 53kW and 93Nm of torque. It’s not the liveliest of engines and the lacklustre performance can frustrate some, but the car has some redeeming qualities.
For starters, there are six airbags for added safety, as well as stability control and ABS. The steering wheel houses controls from which to control media, and the multimedia system is Bluetooth, AUX, and USB compatible. The front windows are electric, but the rear units only open up slightly. Boot space is on the sparse side, but the folding rear seats will increase the loading area from 196L to 780L.
Weighing only 840kg, the 108’s five-speed manual gearbox has little issue transferring power to the front wheels. Modulating the clutch can feel a bit strange at first, but you soon get used to its application in the 108. The 14-inch wheels do not like overzealous driving and will come into their own at a moderate pace. Inclines are also not what 108 lives for and should you build up enough momentum before performing your manoeuvre.
Still, the 108 should be a good fit for life in the city and will we give a more detailed analysis of this once the car comes in for testing.
Price: R179 900
Peugeot should be commended for taking this next step as it seeks to re-establish itself in South Africa. The two products it launched, together with Peugeot Pride, should see the brand find favour among local consumers. At least according to initial impressions. Though the 108 and especially the 5008 are good in their own right, Peugeot has a monumental task at hand to lure consumers to the brand. But it would seem that they are not the right track…