MOTORING

Whatever happened to baby Peugeots and Fiestas in Hong Kong? Five forgotten cars that are worth a second look

There’s a diesel Peugeot 308 in Sha Tin, and a Ssangyong for sportspeople and slobbery dogs – and the fastest Smart Brabus

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 August, 2017, 4:40pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 August, 2017, 10:10pm

The Chinese-language Automobile magazine lists the city’s choice of 565 different models from 40 marques in Hong Kong .

Their local trade seems brisk, with the Transport Department reporting the registration of 3,055 new cars in May, a 17.3 per cent year-on-year increase [on 2,604].

However, some new cars seem forgotten or deserve more publicity in Hong Kong – and these five are worth another look.

Some car lovers might ask: “Whatever happened to baby Peugeots in Hong Kong?”

The Lion marque used to big here, thanks to the popularity of its vario-roofed 206cc of 2001-2004 (now offered for about HK$20,000 online, US$2,550) and then the 207cc of 2007-08 (listed for about HK$35,000).

Local dealer AutoFrance HongKong’s website offers just a couple of Peugeot 308s, and in Sha Tin, far from the marque’s natural branding bridgeheads here – the growing Francophone quarters of Western and the Southside.

Peugeot, meanwhile, has had a good summer overseas: its Peugeot DKR #100 won the Silk Way Rally from Moscow to Xian on July 21.

And the previous week, the new Peugeot 5008 sport utility vehicle was the presidential car at the Paris Bastille Day celebrations and, the yet-to-arrive 2017 Car of the Year, the Peugeot 3008 SUV, won a Red Dot Award for design.

So commuters might take another look at the 166ps, two-litre diesel Peugeot 308 5D (from HK$239,800). The five-seater looks a parkable family car with an “i-Cockpit” that includes a head-up display, a 9.7” touchscreen, and eye-level instruments.

The 308 5D also has a reversing camera, a 470-litre boot and five-star European safety with hill-start and stop-start traffic electronics. The diesel raises debates on noxious gases, but it is now cheaper here than an electric vehicle since April 1.

The baby Ford Fiesta seems to have been airbrushed from dealer Future Motors’ price list, just as the latest versions were hailed this summer as “the most technologically advanced small car on sale in Europe”.

This online omission suggests Hongkongers should be told more about the Ford Fiesta’s multiple-award-winning three-cylinder, one-litre EcoBoost engine, and its five-star European safety rating since 2012.

Thankfully, Year 2015 Fiestas are offered online in the HK$90,000s. The dealer’s website hints at an upcoming Fiesta ST of unknown power, but Hongkongers might ignore this in the knowledge that the new basic baby Fiesta in Europe can now have a 140ps, one-litre EcoBoost block, active park assist and a smoother gearbox – and that a new 200ps Fiesta ST is expected in Europe next year, along with a Fiesta Active crossover.

The plush Vignale Fiesta version has quilted leather seats and 18-inch wheels, and may be orderable via a parallel importer if the local dealer can’t stock it.

Ssangyong cars are sold here by Gainfull Motors, with the 155ps Actyon Sport (from HK$218,000) with the a 2.2-litre, seven-seater Stavic (from HK288,000) winning cult followings on lovable design and price.

However, the all-wheel-drive Korando sport utility vehicle (from HK$198,000) has a two-tonne towing capacity. Popular in Europe with the sailing, equestrian and school-run sets, the Korando could be a Pui O or Tai Po staple.

The third-generation, 1,599kg Korando has a two-litre, 149ps petrol engine and a six-speed automatic transmission promising 165km/h with a combined a petrol sip of 7.5 litres per 100km.

Its interior’s plasticky but fine for muddy or salty sportspeople; interior-skuffing children and slobbery dogs. Used versions online start at HK$88,000 for a 2013 model.

Jeep Hong Kong has 5,863 Facebook followers, but its Wrangler (from HK$508,000) seems rare in Hong Kong. Critics point to the unnecessary power of its 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 engine in town, but it delivers 284hp and 347Nm of torque and impresses with Jeep’s Command-Trac 4WD on 17-inch wheels.

The Wrangler also tows up to 907kg with a trailer sway control, a big sound system and lots of braking and stability electronics. The offroader also has a Remote Keyless Entry device with a 50-foot range and a Sentry Key antitheft engine immobiliser.

Dealer Swire Motors offers a similarly chunky Wrangler Unlimited four-door version (from HK$538,000), but Jeep’s Kowloon Bay showroom might seem a trek for some Pacific Place shoppers.

The Smart car could have been a Hong Kong motoring icon, luring couples into smaller cars; introducing European-style side-on parking; and ending discussions about empty seats per trip.

Instead, the two-seater was arguably priced too high, and its urban mobility message was either presented with little passion, or diluted here as the a hip “younger brother” of Mercedes-Benz.

The still-fresh 71hp Cabrio (from HK$219,000) is a breezy commuter, however, and the 2.74m, 109hp Cabrio Brabus (HK$321,00) “flagship” looks chic (main picture this week) with a smartphone cradle, surprising legroom and lots of connectivity. The Brabus also tops at 165km/h, and runs for a combined 5.2 l/100km and a CO2 spew of 104g/km. It’s worth another look: Hong Kong always seems bigger in a two-seater smart. But the marque arguably still needs more aggressive, competitive marketing in “Asia’s Capital of Cars”.