Thursday, 22 January 2015

REVIEW - Peugeot 108 Top!

So after almost 10 years and a few minor facelifts, our favourite city cars are finally getting a complete makeover. And for once the Toyota Aygo, Peugeot 108 and Citroen C1 will be rather distinguishable. I have a C1 booked in later in the year, but I managed to grab the Peugeot 108 Top! For a week, and the Top! Brings a new concept to this market. There’s a fabric roof which retracts to act as a very large sunroof, meaning this little car has another big trip up its sleeve. So I was excited to see what effect the other changes have had on it.

Looks – 10/10

The biggest change for me with the new 108 is the styling. No longer does it look like its siblings; it now has its own identity. And I like it. The front end styling has been complimented by the familiar stumpy front end and angular headlights similar to those found on the 308. The Allure model I tested gets two-tone alloy wheels, daytime running lights, privacy glass, chrome mirrors and door handles; all of which really do come together in a rather good looking package indeed. I like the remodelled rear end, although the rear lights are a bit clumsy looking if I’m being super critical. Even little details like the sidelights are a nice touch; being the swoosh style as found on other Peugeot models.

The area which most needed updating was the interior. The issue is that as these cars became increasingly popular, the expectations of buyers went beyond ‘functional’ and just adding a couple of mod-cons to the basic interior just didn’t work. Now though the whole interior feels like a much more pleasant place to be. Some of the plastics still leave a little to be desired, but my test car with plenty of piano black trim, a leather steering wheel and patterned seats certainly looked the part. The instrument panel has been reworked, and now features a shift indicator and rev counter. The inclusion of a large touch-screen multimedia system also provides a focal point; bringing the interior together.

Handling/Performance – 8/10

There are two engines available on the 108, a 1.0-litre and a larger 1.2-litre which is available on the higher trim models. Being an Allure, my test car had the larger of the two. It has slightly more power (82PS vs 68PS) but that makes a world of difference to how it drives. The paper figures don’t exactly make for an enthralling read; 0-62mph in 11.0 seconds and a top speed of 106mph. Both being 3-cylinder engines they have the same ‘thrum’ and are quite revvy engines. The greatest advantage of the larger engine comes on the motorway. It just sits more comfortably at motorway speeds, and the extra torque (116Nm vs 96Nm) allows for a bit extra overtaking oomph too.

The handling does still leave a little to be desired. The narrow, high-profile tyres translate into lean through the corners. If I’m honest this is more comical than worrying, and you’re more aware of the limits of grip available to you. The suspension doesn’t help matters either; it doesn’t allow enough detachment from the vibrations of the road, which still prevents the 108 from being a long-haul companion. That being said, a little bit more support from the seats would go a long way to sorting this, and the quietness of the cabin does well to compensate; the new car feels better on the motorway than the last one. I was impressed that the fabric roof didn’t have any impact on cabin noise either; it was as quiet as the regular hatchback. The steering lacks sharpness, but then again this is a city car first and foremost; a sharp turning circle and manoeuvrability is more important than its ability to kiss an apex.

Economy – 10/10

All the engine options in the 108 are 99gkm CO2 or less. That’s a key point because it means free road tax not only in the first year, but in all subsequent years too; even in the automatic model. The 1.2-litre Allure is on the limit- with 99g/km CO2- but combined fuel consumption even with the larger engine is a rather respectable 65.7mpg which means you’ll spend less at the pumps too. There’s no trick stop/start system to worry about here either; this is simple, economic engineering. And that’s another point in the 108’s favour.

Practicality – 9/10

The previous model made a good city car, but to live with over the long term wasn’t ideal. Thankfully all the changes have made the 108 a well-rounded car indeed. There may only be four seats, and the boot won’t fit a dining table in. But that’s about where the impracticality ends. Especially on the Allure model. Standard equipment includes keyless entry and go, Bluetooth hands-free, a touchscreen multimedia system, reversing camera, air conditioning and programmable speed limiter. That’s far beyond expectations and does make the 108 rather enjoyable to live with. The larger engine makes motorway driving easier, but the size means that you can always find a parking space, and darting round town is a doddle.

Fun – 9/10

I wasn’t entirely sure how to take the 108. Before it arrived I was a bit concerned that by taking the roof off the car would become confused. I was also concerned that wind noise could be worsened by having a fabric roof. After spending a week with one, all my concerns disappeared. It looks fantastic, and feels much more solid. The gadgets mean you can put your iPod on, connect your phone and enjoy the drive. And being able to take the roof down on a summers’ day will be an even bigger bonus. And none of this comes at a compromise. You get all the benefits of zipping round in a little car, with the list of equipment you’d find on something much bigger. The comical cornering puts a smile on your face, and it blew me away; I wasn’t expecting that.

Concluding Remarks

This has been a rather fun week with the Peugeot 108. I am genuinely impressed and I not only think it commands its £12,245 price tag, but offers exceptional value for money for it too. This is more than just a small city car, this is a car you can live with and enjoy every day. Then when the sun comes out (admittedly not enough in this country) you can retract the roof. The 108 has a lot big tricks up small sleeves, and for that it leaves a lasting impression. Should you want more information contact your nearest dealer, or visit the Peugeot website. And there’s one word I want to leave you with to sum up the 108, but Peugeot have beaten me to it. I’ll use it anyway… Top!

Total Score – 46/50

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