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The Toyota Yaris might have found itself a worthy opponent in the Peugeot 107, launched in Durban this week. Small and cute, it is set to become a must-have accessory for young car owners, particularly women.
The lower end of the local passenger-car market accounted for about 380000 sales last year, about 40percent of the total, and it continues to grow. The 107 will compete in this category and offers "a modern yet affordable solution" to the motoring needs of the country's young drivers, according to Peugeot South Africa.
This entry-level arena is acutely price-sensitive but the 107, starting at less than R90000, extravagantly offers dual airbags, electrically assisted power steering and anti-lock brakes, apart from all the standard features of the modern car.
In a marketplace in which loyalty lies only in the thickness of the wad of cash it takes to purchase a new vehicle, Peugeot believes its suitably priced and well-equipped range of three models will serve it well.
The 107 playfully picks up the styling cues used on the latest Peugeots, with a youthful feline face expressed in the smiling mouth and elongated almond-shaped "eyes''. Bumpers are colour coded on all models and the car's overall design brings a breath of fresh air to this segment of the market.
As with other Peugeots, it has a nonconformist bent to it, mixing innovative thinking with practicality. The headlights are set high and the bonnet lines extend into the windscreen pillars, which reinforce the car's solid and reassuring appearance.
The rear is characterised by the all-glass hatch, framed by the convex triangular light clusters. The rear bumper is quite pronounced and extends low down, with a plastic protective strip running the width of the car.
The 107's design proves that character and simplicity are not mutually exclusive - and its safety measures are impressive as well. Both of the XR models have driver and passenger airbags. The passenger airbag can be deactivated to allow for a rear-facing child seat. Side airbags are fitted to the X-line.
The steering column is designed to retract by as much as 73mm in the event of an accident, and the head restraints would provide effective support in the event of a rear collision.
The 107 is set to make a good impression on South Africa.