Motoring / Motoring News
Andre De Kock
This writer hates and fears computers. For good reason – because computers hate me. When I really, really need a computer to do something for me, five minutes before a final deadline, it will not. Programmes that work perfectly fine for other people, seize up like old two-stroke engines when I attempt to utilise them.
When I really, really need a vital image or story on an incoming e-mail, it will quietly disappear forever, ignoring the sender’s repeated attempts to transmit it to me. When I send a really important e-mail, it will disappear into a black hole in the stratosphere. When satellites from outer space re-enter the earth’s atmosphere they burn up – because they hit my millions of aborted e-mail communication attempts. I feel guilty about that.
One day, a computer will kill me. I know it. The computers know it. The computers know that I know it. They also know that I do not know when it will happen. Thus, I am fearful of cars with an abundance of computer-controlled functions, which is why I warmed to the Peugeot 108 on its arrival.
It is, you see, small, and does not boast any autonomous self-driving systems that would surely conspire to grievously harm me. It is also pretty – Peugeot calls it “a sophisticated urban design replete with dynamic lines and meticulous details”. We do not understand stuff like that, but it is good-looking.
Features we liked were the chunky bonnet, prominent lion emblem, unmistakable Peugeot headlamps with LED daytime running lights and three-claw design rear light clusters. It is compact, at 3.47 m long, 1.62 m wide and 1.46 m high, with small front and rear overhangs and sits on 14-inch steel wheels in 165/65 R14 rubber ware. Sadly, that is complemented by one of those much hated “space saver” spare wheels – guaranteed to ruin your entire day, should you suffer a puncture on a long trip.
Inside, it offers height and depth adjustable front seats, an air conditioner, central locking, electric front windows, a multi-function steering wheel, a two-speaker radio with USB, AUX and a 12V socket. Not unusual, but, being French, the little Peugeot brings all of it together with comfort and style.
The various controls are all within easy reach, while the speedometer housing is covered by a cowling to ensure clarity of the analogue speedometer and an LCD screen. You can also, they say, connect the car’s centre touchscreen with your smartphone via Bluetooth or mirror screen. Safety features abound, with ABS, ESP, EBD, emergency brake assist, front, side and curtain airbags, plus an anti-theft alarm system.
Which brings us, almost sadly, to the actual driving part. The Peugeot 108 is fitted with a three-cylinder, 998 cc, petrol engine that renders 53 kW of power at 6 000 rpm and 93 Nm of torque at 4 400 rpm. This goes to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox. The combination conspires to make the 108 slow – really slow. Acceleration is sluggish, even if you coax the little engine over 5 000 rpm – which it does not like. Peugeot reckons the 108 will go from standstill to 100 km/h in just over 13 sec, with a top speed of 160 km/h. We doubt the first figure and flatly disbelieve the second.
At a push, the car will keep up with Gauteng traffic, but once on the highway, you find the fifth gear virtually inoperable. At 120 km/h, the slightest hint of an incline will immediately drop your speed below 100 km/h and you have to spend a long time with your foot flat in fourth gear to regain the legal limit.
The speed of 160 km/h will only occur if the car should fall down a mineshaft. That said, the 108 is nimble with a turning circle of just 4.8 m. It is easy to park and the electric power steering feels weighted just right in corners.
Given an extra cylinder, 200cc more and a 30 kW power injection, it would be great to drive. But, the 108 was never aimed at fat old motorsports enthusiasts. Its target market of young school-leavers or old grannies will probably never notice its sluggishness, focusing rather on its style, comfort and fuel consumption of around 6l/100 km.
The Peugeot 108 Active will set you back R179 900, which includes a five-year/100 000 km service plan, manufacturer’s warranty and roadside assistance, plus a 12-year anti-perforation and three-year paint warranty.
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