1.0 72 Collection 5dr
The Peugeot 108 continues to establish itself as a leading citycar contender, most recently updated with fresher colours and trim. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
Creating a citycar is hard enough. Trying to differentiate a design shared with other brands must be even more difficult. Such was Peugeot's job with this car, the 108. Like its predecessor, the old 107, this model has to share its design and engineering with two rivals, Citroen's C1 and Toyota's Aygo. And, in comparison with the old 107, it had to offer citycar buyers more options - extra hi-tech, a bit more space and more complete safety provision. In all these areas, this 108 does indeed improve on what went before and has now been improved still further with the addition of a smarter feel, both inside and out. In comparison to its two design stablemates, this Peugeot has gone for a classier, more mature look. And it's highly personalisable. So, is that enough to put this Peugeot in pole position in this segment? Let's find out.
As you might know, the this car's Peugeot 107 predecessor was part of a three-car family alongside the Toyota Aygo and the Citroen C1, all three models being screwed together in Kolin in the Czech Republic. It's been the same story with this second generation design, which is why it'll come as no great surprise to learn that the 108 is still mechanically identical to the Citroen C1 and the Toyota Aygo. Original versions of the 108 could be had with two three cylinder VTi petrol engines, a 1.0-litre 68bhp unit and a 1.2-litre 82bhp powerlant. These units have in recent years both been replaced by a VTi 72 1.0-litre normally aspirated three cylinder engine, engineered to Euro 6.d-TEMP regulations and fitted with a 5-speed manual gearbox. Urban-bound folk will appreciate the light steering and a kerb-to-kerb 10.2m turning circle so tight that even if you spot a parking place on the other side of the road, you may be able to throw a quick U-turn to snaffle it. When reversing into a narrow bay, it's almost comical how little car there is behind the rear seats and it's worth remembering that you can afford to leave yourself some breathing room at the back. Parking like this is especially easy thanks to the light power steering that'll twirl you easily into the smallest slot.
The difference between the 108, the Aygo and the C1's exterior styling is far more marked with the second generation models. Of the three, the 108 probably possesses the most mature, refined styling. That's important because this car is not really attempting to make a big play for first time buyers. Instead it's looking to attract customers who might never have chosen a city car because they felt too insubstantial and cheap. The 108 looks reassuringly grown-up with a discreet front end treatment and assured, mature detailing. There's very little here that looks contrived or gauche. Chief designer Ivo Groen insisted on lots of chrome and a palette of restrained, smart colours. The interior of the 108 hinges around a 7-inch centrally mounted touch screen system. This display is optional on the Active trim level and standard from Allure up and it really brings the interior together so you'll be missing out if you pinch pennies here. It controls the car's media, trip computer, Bluetooth and various vehicle settings. Should you want to personalise your 108, Peugeot offer various different themes which feature decals, trim inserts, and seat fabrics. back seat space is fairly tight, as is boot capacity, rated at 196-litres; that's extendable to 868-litres with the rear bench folded.
There is now only the five-door bodystyle. It comes with 'Active', 'Allure' or 'Collection' trim options and will cost you from around £13,300. It's around £14,500 for mid-range 'Allure' trim and around £15,000 for the plushest 'Collection'-spec. Peugeot no longer offers the fabric-folding 'TOP!' body style - or auto transmission. There are now fresh options across all trim levels, with Ural White and Galaxite Grey colours replacing the old Bianca White and Carbon Grey body paints. Depending on the trims, other paint colours will also still be available like Laser Red, Gallium Grey, Caldera Black, Smooth Green, Antelope Red, Galaxite Grey and Calvi Blue. On 'Collection' variants, the exterior of the 108 will now come with body-coloured handles, replacing the previous chrome design. In addition, Collection variants feature 15-inch 'Thorren' alloy wheels with orange centre wheel caps. Inside, Collection models feature new Orange Maya Line Jusa trims with Yellow Sun stitching. An additional change to the trim is a new interior ambience, which is linked to the exterior paint colour of the car when selecting the Smooth Green or Calvi Blue paint options. All other body colours for Collection trim will feature a Glossy Black with Grained Black interior ambiance. Safety equipment shouldn't be an issue as even the entry-level car is fitted with Hill Start Assist, anti-lock brakes, emergency collision braking system, and electronic stability control. There are full length curtain airbags, two side airbags and two front airbags. Both rear seats are also fitted with ISOFIX child seat mounts.
Even if it is being targeted at well-heeled downsizers or those families looking for an easy to use second or third car, the Peugeot 108 can't afford to be off the pace in terms of economy and emissions. It's not even a purely monetary thing anymore. To fall behind here smacks of complacent engineering and manufacturers are keen to one-up each other. Call it a way for the boffins to keep score. That we benefit from this battle of the brains can only be applauded and in Euro6 guise, the 108 nets a combined WLTP fuel consumption figure of up to 58.9mpg in 1.0-litre form. The CO2 emssions figure is up to 110g/km (WLTP). We'd also be willing to bet that the 108 ends up with the strongest residual values of the three sister vehicles created from this design. It looks to have the broadest appeal, although we'd probably look to specify the car with the touch screen if we wanted to guarantee better retained values.
The Peugeot 108 is an intriguing sort of citycar. Most small cars are marketed to two distinct groups; people who don't really want new cars and people who can't really afford new cars. As such, most buyers don't have much of an emotional investment in the vehicle. It's a means to an end; virtually a distress purchase in some cases. The 108 is different. It's a car that sets its stall out to attract people who have the means to buy more expensive cars, making an appeal on style, convenience and agility. We like the Toyota Aygo and the Citroen C1, but there's something about the Peugeot 108 which sets it apart. It's almost as if by paring the tinsel back, it's become a harder-hitting, more desirable proposition. Less can be more. There aren't too many car companies that have become rich banking on the refined subtlety of the British public, but Peugeot remains cautiously optimistic.
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