All through its long and illustrious history, Peugeot has bounced back every time critics tried to write its obituary. Yet again the iconic French car maker is back with a bang with revamped models and reinvented strategies, enchanting Omani customers who are finding the offerings to their liking. Faisal Mohammed Naim explores the lion's den
To Abdul Nasser Al Adhawi, his 'Blue Babe', with whom he spends most of his time, is not just a car, it is his second home… And for Hussain Ali, it was not just the iconic lion, but also her power and poise which swept him off his feet… That's how Peugeot owners look upon their passion on wheels!
From going to office in the morning to coming back, and then taking his kids out for ice-creams, till he gets back home after seeing his friends, most of Abdul Nasser's daytime is spent in his car, or "Blue Babe", as he likes to call her. A proud owner of a Peugeot 207, so much is the 36-year-old in love with his 'babe' that he goes on to say it has been the best thing that has ever happened to him after his family.
And Abdul Nasser is not the only one in love with the car having a lion sitting on its nose, Peugeot cars, of late, seem to be attracting the fancy of customers in Oman. With its European label and cheap Japan like price tags, the brand, famous as maker of the best European normal cars, is fast catching the attention of customers. Year 2013 proved to be a turnaround for the brand. Undergoing a major rehaul, it strongly made its presence felt, with its revamped model line-up in the mid-luxury segment, other-wise dominated by Japanese and Korean brands. Within months of its relaunch, the brand's flagship model, the 301, bagged the Small Sedan Car of the Year award recently at the Middle East Motor Awards 2013, confirming the marquee brand's successful comeback in the GCC markets.
Said Gurdeep Singh Multani, Brand Manager, Peugeot Oman, "We have registered a growth of 34% in car sales in 2013, owing to the renewed models and strategies. Having European genes, and competing in the price range of Japanese and Korean models, the cars are already taking the market by the storm".
For Abdul Nasser, it was the unique shade of the car, which made him go for it. "I found the turquoise blue colour of the car very fascinating. It was love at first sight, and I immediately booked it. I was even offered extra money by other customers to go for another colour as there was only this one model in the colour, but I turned the offers down", he recounted, laughing. The day isn't over for Abdul Nasser until he has spent enough time caressing his car in his garage at his home in Seeb.
"After 1,60,000 km on board, I find myself all the more in love with my babe".
For Hussain Ali, an expatriate from Miami, for whom partying with friends every night is a must, his 208 comes handy in the cramped traffic lanes in the wee hours. "Compact and fast, it is tailor-made for the roads in Muscat. It drives fast, and it moves swift. This is the most perfect all purpose city driving car having enough power, perfect balance, and compact size, making it absolute fun driving in the city", said the 28-year-old, adding he owned 4 cars, including a big 4x4, but Peugeot was the one he enjoyed driving the most.
Quite amazingly it was the brand logo that attracted Ali to buy the car. "The thing that excited me the most about the car was its logo. The pouncing lion caught my fancy instantly. Plus it is a European brand for a low budget which made it a must-have for me".
Another Peugeot customer, Jamal Abdullah Al Balushi, from Nizwa, who has a big family of 15 members including grandchildren, said the brand provided the ultimate solution for his needs. "I have a big family and needed different cars for different occasions. With so many quality options within a reasonable budget, Peugeot turned out to be the perfect option", said Al Balushi, general manager of a reputed business firm, who owns six different models of the brand, including the premium 508 sedan for himself.
Firing on all cylinders
Owning the 207 RC since 2009, Abdul Nasser said he decided to go for the brand just to experiment, and he has not been disappointed one little bit ever since. "I had earlier owned a Japanese brand car, and wanted to have a change. On my friend's advice, I checked and decided to go for Peugeot, and it has been an amazing experience. No other brand offers so much for so less. At RO 6000, I have a turbocharged 1.6 liter engine capable of doing speeds above the 250 kmph mark, and plus the tag of a European brand".
Perfectly balanced, the Peugeot cars are an amalgam of performance, safety, and efficency maintains Hussain Ali, adding the car scored maximum on all criteria. "With most of the other cars, generally one has to compromise either on one factor or the other. But Peugeot delivers superb performance, and highest safety levels, with amazingly low running costs. The car is so stable, I have tried turns at good speed, and it remains absolutely stable and balanced, which is quite unique in a compact car. This is the most powerful hatchback in its segment, and I totally love driving the car", said Ali, for whom power and aerodynamics were the biggest reasons to go for the car.
It was, however, the 308 hatchback and Partner, which proved to be the game changers for the brand, according to Gurdeep. The latest Peugeot 308, the first of Peugeot's '8'-monikered cars competes in a hot market sector, the C segment, more crowded than ever with cars growing evermore competent, including the perennial favourites, the Volkswagen Golf, Toyota Yaris, and Ford Focus, and the new strong breed from Korea, like the Hyundai i30 and Kia Cee'd. Still the model did exceptionally well and has turned out to be the top selling model for the brand.
The Partner on the other hand has grown hugely popular among commercial users and small business owners. Five more models are planned to be added to the existing line-up, including variants for the iconic 301 sedan.
According to Jamal, the biggest strength of the brand, however, was a wide model line-up within a low price band. "From compact hatchback to the large hatchbacks to full size sedan to crossovers, and the niche segment sports car, the brand portfolio offers cars for different needs, tastes and status," he asserts.
Increased focus on customers was also one of the major reasons for the brands quick acceptance amongst the people, according to Gurdeep. "Going by our tagline, 'Motion and Emotion', We have redesigned our marketing strategies keeping in mind primarily the customer. We have increased their involvement in sales and after sales process, so that our customers could feel more associated with the brand, more than just the business", he explained.
For high levels of customer satisfaction, the company has ensured transparent and smooth after-sales services. Said Ali, "The most satisfying thing was I clearly knew how much I would be charged and why; there were no hidden costs! Also, the quality of servicing is of highest standards". Also Gurdeep adds, that the spare parts availability at the brand's service centre is 92%.
The biggest advantage that the brand extends to its customers is a service interval of 10,000 km, and a warranty cover of 5 years/one million km. "No other brand provides cover of such extent in the market in any segment. That's the confidence we are giving to our customers", claimed Gurdeep. The company has also initiated the 50% trading buy-back scheme, where customers can get guaranteed 50% of the value of their car, if they decide to sell it back to the company after 3 years or 60,000 km.
Gurdeep Singh Multani
Brand Manager, Peugeot Oman (European Motors)
Efficiency is the future of automobiles. People are gradually shifting from large vehicles to compact ones. The response has been immense for us in the recent past. Delivering the best of both worlds in terms of Quality and pricing, Peugeot cars promise to be the best deal in the market for customers.
Owner, Peugeot 208
Owning a European car doesn't get any easier than owning a Peugeot. High on quality and safety features, the car is inexpensive to maintain, and absolute fun to drive. I found no other equivalent of the car in the low-budget market.
Abdul Nasser Al Adhawi
Owner, Peugeot 207 RC
The brand is high in performance, efficiency, and safety standards. But what makes it stand apart is its amazingly low price, competing with the Japanese when it comes to that. Overall, the brand offers a complete package in its cars.