New Sasol GTC cars set for thrills

The iconic Grand Prix Circuit will present a new challenge to the GTC drivers as they tackle the country’s fastest racetrack on June 16.

Suzuki’s new Swift hatch and sedan in SA

Suzuki kicks off its new model assault with an all new Swift hatchback and standalone sedan called the Dzire.

Reader test: 'Poogeot' 1007

2009-03-19 08:28

Scott Silburn

"What possessed you?!" is a question I hear a lot.

Indeed, what possesses a 40 year-old car nut to purchase a Peugeot 1007 with silly slidy doors? What possessed me indeed!! I am inclined to think it was the disgruntled spirit of car enthusiasm out to hurt me after a string of non-enthusiast vehicle purchases!

I must confess to being somewhat obsessed when it comes to cars. I’ve owned 37 vehicles since my first Alfa GTV as I started varsity back in 1985. They’ve been great fun although they haven’t been too kind to my pocket! But I didn’t care – all I needed was a sporty car and all was well in my world!

But back to the 1007. The trouble all began when I sold my wonderful black S3 and bought a Honda Jazz in order to have a go at financial responsibility. The Jazz was cheap and cheerful but, although I was wont to tell friends and colleagues "It makes me happy" I knew somewhere deep within me something was dying.

It’s not that the Jazz was a bad car – far from it! After all, I had the "sporty" 1.5 VTEC model in a lovely silver blue, but it just didn’t cut it as an enthusiast’s car. The motor sounded like a sewing machine and the remarkable CVT transmission was very uninspiring, despite its best efforts to pretend it had actual gears in there somewhere. It had to go!

I then bought a Ford-blue Fiesta ST with the full Chatsworth stripe kit and that was a lot better! I was very entertained by its grunty 2.0-litre motor and its simple, spunky fun-to-drive up-and-at-you tail-wagging personality… And I should have kept it, but I was still thinking to myself "must…save…money" so I sold it like a bloody idiot and bought the 1007.

The promise

I suppose I should’ve been a little suspicious of the resale value of Poogeots in general, and the 1007 in particular, when I was able to buy a 2006 model with 20 000 on the clock and a 90 000 km service plan for only R95 000 from Peugeot East Rand.

"I’ll make money when I sell it!", I thought! I realise now that I’m likely to have to use it as my casket. Alas, I was thinking with my car-nut hat on and I decided to live out my fascination with the little Pug by actually buying one. I’d seen the road test a couple of years before and had always been interested with it and its electric sliding doors and genuine automated-manual tiptronic transmission.

"It’s all very James Bond", I thought. It even has the right name, One 007! Fortunately, Bond never tried to escape from Blofeld in one of these babies. If he had, it would have been "Bye bye Meester Baahnd!".

I have not been kind to the 1007 and it has not been kind to me.

Firstly, it’s all fly-by-wire. The throttle and gearbox are electronic and if the little blighter’s in a bad mood then you can forget about actually going anywhere. It’ll start (if you’re lucky) and then it just mocks you. "Yew want a gear, you stooped English peeg-dog?!?!! I flatulate in your general direction!" Very annoying when you’re in a hurry.

It developed a curious fault in its little electronic brain whereby it would decide there was a gearbox problem and simply refuse to engage a gear.

Then there was a starting problem which materialised if I tried to start the car when hot. It would disengage the starter motor and switch on the high-speed cooling fan and mock me some more with warning chimes from its amazing repertoire of electronic noises. Then, when it did start after about 15 minutes, it would kill the power steering as a coup de grace!

These maladies have been rectified by a brain transplant and various other new bits, including the electronic gearbox actuators. Thank Heavens for the service plan!

For urban moms only

I suppose I should have known better than to buy a city car meant for hip urban mothers! This car is definitely aimed at lady drivers. It pings, pongs and chimes at the slightest provocation. There is no temperature gauge but there is a baby-monitoring mirror above the normal rear-view mirror – I tell passengers it’s a blind-spot mirror and so far I’ve managed to fool most of them!

The car itself is not a bad design, truth be told, what with its five-star NCAP safety rating, but it’s crippled by excessive weight, the silly sliding doors and the flaccid gearbox. There’s plenty of headroom and the interior is pretty versatile. The rear seats slide and flip and the front passenger seat actually becomes a work-desk if you fold it just right – trés chic!

The doors provide endless amusement for passengers and the general public and I’ve actually had parking boom attendants start to shriek as if being penetrated by a thousand knives as I stopped and opened a door (window not working) to get the ticket. Trés amusant! Though I am certainly aware that no-one mistakes me for Mr Bond as I arrive at shopping centres and smoothly open my door. Mr Light-In-His-Loafers perhaps...

The car is sluggish to say the least and it’s really very hard for me to believe that the little 1600 mill is churning out 80 kW. It feels more like 40. The gearshift is not too bad when the gearbox is co-operating, but the fuel consumption is staggering for a small "economy" car. It can be as high as 12 l/100 km. I blame an inefficient engine, but I do have to admit that my leaden right foot might be a small part of the problem. If I do drive so that the computer shows 8 l/100 km, then I feel as though I’m travelling backwards in time, so slowly does the whole plot move along. It’s UNBEARABLE for an enthusiastic driver like me!

Then there’s the engine "note" – a nasty nasal whine as though gas were escaping from some too-small port somewhere (that would be the exhaust I suppose). Car makers engineer character into certain models to attract the enthusiast end of the market – this car is clearly at the extreme opposite end! I nostalgically remember the deep, thunderous bellow of the C5 Corvette I had when I worked in the US as I press through the local traffic wondering who left the blender on. My fault for buying it I suppose.

In all fairness to it, the 1007 does cruise quite well on the freeway, once its not inconsiderable bulk has been urged into an ungainly run. It’ll buzz along undramatically between 120 and 140 km/h with very little wind and road noise and is then not as unpleasant as usual to drive. I’ve also upgraded the rubber from the stock 185s to 195s (sort of a sex-change for this car) and it grips pretty well, all things considered.

So there you have it. I would have to say that this will certainly be my first and last Poogeot and it may well be my last car unless a young mother falls for its Gallic "charm". I long for the day when I can bid it adieu!


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