Peugeot's 108 Claims to offer a slicker solution for urban-bound motorists. June Neary checks it out
Will It Suit Me?
Reading the press material for Peugeot's 108 prior to its arrival was enlightening. "A compact car with an assertive character, versatile in use and above all, totally at ease in the urban environment." If the 108 could carry all that off, I'd definitely be up for one.
On first glance, I was favourably impressed. You certainly can't miss this little citycar, the cheerfully grinning front end of the second generation version not quite so in-your-face as the more aggressively-penned looks of the Toyota Aygo, but more distinctive than the more conservatively-styled Citroen C1, these being the two rivals to this 108 developed off the same platform. So far, so good.
There's a choice of three and five-door hatch bodystyles and even a TOP! version with a fabric folding roof. You get a choice of engines this time round, with the familiar 1.0-litre petrol unit being joined by an additional 1.2-litre petrol version. Peugeot still aren't offering a diesel option, which is curious when you think how budget-minded most potential buyers will be. Mind you, they'd be probably put off by the premium being charged for diesel power - am extra cost you'd be unlikely to get back with the low mileages likely to be covered by a car of this type.
I wasn't expecting this to be a spacious car inside - and sure enough, it wasn't. Still, the designers have engineered in enough wheelbase to accommodate a five-door body style (an achievement in itself) and chucked in a whole host of safety features. I found that the dimensions of the 108 could really only be appreciated when walking around the car. The three door shape looks the most comfortable from a design perspective, but the five-door I tried could well prove to be a bigger commercial success. The angled window line gives the car a cute wedge profile and the flared rear haunches really emphasise the wheel-at-each-corner design.
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 seven different themes which feature decals, trim inserts, and seat fabrics like houndstooth and tartan.
Behind the Wheel
There's a choice of a two petrol engines: a VTi 68, available with either a 5-speed manual or a 5-speed clutchless Efficient Tronic Gearbox (ETG), or in a 1.2-litre VTi 82 guise with a 5-speed manual transmission. The car has been designed to improve agility and manoeuvrability in town, with a turning circle of just 4.8 metres.
The good news is the fact that the 1.0-litre engine most will choose is predictably excellent in terms of fuel economy and emissions. The combined economy figure is 65.7mpg and emissions are pegged at an excellent 88g/km.
Five or ten years ago, I'd have hesitated to use a citycar of this kind on longer journeys for safety reasons. You shuddered to think what might happen if a car of this sort had a run-in with a lorry at speed. These issues are less of a worry these days. To ensure the optimum safety of its passengers, the 108 relies on its structure for high speed impact protection - quite an accomplishment considering that a small car has to absorb impact energy quickly. Each passenger seat can accommodate a child seat, while the 50/50 split rear bench seat is equipped on both sides with ISOFIX fixtures incorporating three anchorage points for the installation of an ISOFIX child seat.
This overall design has placed the 108 in the best possible position to satisfy Euro NCAP criteria for the protection of occupants. In the design of the front of the vehicle and the layout of the different mechanical components of the 108, careful attention has been paid to the consequences of a collision with a pedestrian. Thanks to a special impact beam in front of the bumper and a bonnet that creates the maximum possible distance between it and mechanical components underneath, pedestrian protection is maximised.
Value For Money
There's not much to choose between the Peugeot and its obvious Citroen and Toyota rivals in terms of the asking price. The range starts at around £8,300 and includes a 108 TOP! model with a full length retractable fabric roof. The trim structure follows the normal Active and Allure structure. New to the 108 is MirrorLink, which allows the user to control their car's applications through the touch screens of their smart phones. Apple iOS, Android and Windows Mobile platforms are all supported, but do remember that the system won't allow you to start updating your Facebook status when the car's on the move.
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.
Could I Live With One?
The 108 is so close in concept to its Citroen and Toyota counterparts that it really comes down to which dealer gives you the best price. If costs are comparable however, the little Peugeot's smarter face might just swing a few undecided buyers.