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Driven: Peugeot 108 Top. Image by Peugeot.

Driven: Peugeot 108 Top
Open-air city car motoring with the Peugeot 108 Top.

 



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Peugeot 108 Top

4 4 4 4 4

Good points: tidy looks, willing 1.2-litre engine, appealing interior, free to tax, comfy and largely quiet ride

Not so good: no real driving excitement, can get near 13,000 with a few additions

Key Facts

Model tested: Peugeot 108 Top Allure 1.2
Price: starts from 8,345; Top Allure 1.2 from 12,495; car as tested 12,745
Engine: 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: front-wheel drive, five-speed manual
Body style: five-door hatchback
CO2 emissions: 99/km (Band A, 0 VED annually)
Combined economy: 65.7mpg
Top speed: 106mph
0-62mph: 11.0 seconds
Power: 82hp at 5,750rpm
Torque: 116Nm at 2,750rpm

Our view:

Time was when city cars were bloody awful inside and a nightmare to travel in for long distances, but today the buyer of tiny cars has never had it so good. There are seemingly endless numbers of conscientiously stylish little hatchbacks out there that can all be personalised - with gaudy interior trims and 'yay' exterior stickers - to high heaven. And there's more platform sharing now, too, with Volkswagen Group spinning three tiny machines off of one chassis, while Renault and Smart make the mechanically identical Twingo and ForFour respectively.

However, Peugeot, Citroen and Toyota have been playing at this game since 2005, with the 107, C1 and Aygo respectively. Come 2014, the PSA-Japanese alliance decided to overhaul this shared vehicle, with only Peugeot changing its model's nameplate to 108. And it's the Pug that is the most reserved of the bunch in terms of the aesthetic, as the Aygo gets its Manga-inspired X-face while the C1 has some of the craziest headlights we've yet seen. This is not a criticism of the 108, however, as some will find it the prettiest of them all; it has a face that ties it in with the bigger Peugeot 208 and 308 hatchbacks further up the manufacturer's range, while at the back are 'lion-claw' lights. We like it.

This particular model is a Top (or 'Top!' in correct Peugeot branding, although we baulk at shouting the car's name each and every time), which simply means a full-length folding fabric panel in the roof, where otherwise there would be steel. For the privilege of ruffling your hair when driving around a city on a warm, sunny day, the Top commands a 1,000 premium over and above a comparable 108 hatchback. It actually doesn't add a lot of extra noise to the 108 experience, because even inside a tin-top model you're hardly blanketed by a thick quilt of reverential silence when on the move, so the minor additional tousling the roof brings - either open or shut - is hardly a deal-breaker.

We love this little 1.2-litre PureTech three-cylinder engine, too. Last time we tried a 'Toyeugoron C108go', it was the Japanese example with a normally aspirated 69hp 1.0-litre. And you had to thrash the thing just to get anywhere. Yet, without resorting to a turbo and by merely offering an extra 12hp and 21Nm over that Toyota three-pot, the 1.2-litre 108 Top is a far nicer car to drive. Crucially, peak torque on the Pug kicks in at 2,750rpm, whereas the 95Nm of the Aygo comes at a lofty 4,300rpm. Thus, the 108 is a pleasure to bob about town in, while it also flounders far less often on the open roads and motorways. Sure, it's still not quick, but it is gutsy enough not to hold up all other traffic en route and it can accelerate from 56mph back up to a comfortable cruising speed without dropping out of fifth; the noise it makes it also entertaining.

The ride's good as well and as we've already touched on, the 108 is reasonably hushed when travelling at 50mph and more. In fact, it just felt a bit more grown-up all round than the Aygo, with cultured manners at all times. Fuel economy in reality was 45.5mpg across 255 miles at a 31mph average, which might seem a bit disappointing given we drove it sedately, but its numbers were harmed by being caught up in a sod of a traffic jam o travel 12 miles in an agonising hour and a half. So while 65.7mpg doesn't look achievable, something in the 50s wouldn't be out of the question.

While the recent dynamic revival of Peugeot might make you think this is secretly a fun car when you peel back its layers, unfortunately that's not the case. The 108's biggest failing is that, while it's a perfectly tidy handler when driven moderately quickly, it's not entertaining. Body roll is pretty extreme and it'll wash into understeer in the dry sooner rather than later. Light steering doesn't help and nor does a clutch with an almost instant biting point as you release the pedal, although the five-speed gearbox has a pleasant enough action and the Peugeot has very strong brakes for a car of this class.

The Top has a slightly different trim line-up than the 108 hatchback. Entry-level Access spec, available on the three-door 108 hatch only, is denied to the Top, as is the top-ranking Feline you'll find on the three- and five-door 108s with metal roofs. Instead, the Top's range runs Active, Allure and then Roland Garros, all of which can be either three- or five-door cars (+400 on the equivalent three-door Top). Added to the standard Active kit of LED daytime running lights, air conditioning, electric front windows, remote central locking, a seven-inch touchscreen, DAB and Bluetooth, controls mounted on the steering wheel and a USB port/3.5mm jack, the Allure chucks in 15-inch 'Thorren' alloys, front fog lights, automatic headlights, tinted rear windows, chrome door handles and mirrors (the latter electrically adjusted and heated), a rev counter, keyless entry and go, a reversing camera and a speed limiter, plus a leather steering wheel and gear knob.

That's quite a comprehensive amount of equipment and, for the target buyer, it probably covers all the bases. The 108 has a capable enough sound system (good enough to be played at a volume audible at motorway speeds and with the roof open, with no hint of distortion), some decent connectivity software, the more-useful-than-you-think speed limiter and that clear reversing camera (no parking sensors, though). However, with 250 paint, this car totalled only 255 less than thirteen thousand pounds. That places it at the expensive end of the city car spectrum and you'd get a very well-equipped Hyundai i10 for a lot less than this.

Nevertheless, the 108 proves to be another strong contender in a marketplace awash with the things. Potential Pug buyers are going to have to try the Aygo and C1 as well, while the Volkswagen Group's trio of offerings, the superb i10, Renault's Twingo and Smart's ForFour, Fiat's Panda and Vauxhall's surprisingly likeable new Viva all cloud the issue even further. So we like the Peugeot. And, as we said at the outset, city car buyers have really never had it so good; the agony of choice, eh?

Alternatives:

Hyundai i10: one of Korea's best, the i10's trump card is its refinement, as it's incredibly quiet at speed. Nice interior, neat exterior and five-year unlimited mileage warranty make this a seriously tempting proposition.

Renault Twingo: you might think its rear-engine, rear-drive platform will make it feel different to the city car crowd, but it doesn't - aside from a really tight turning circle. The Twingo looks great, though.

Volkswagen up! : Substitute in SEAT Mii or Skoda Citigo if you like, but these are the class acts in the segment. And if you choose the Volkswagen, you'll pay more for such competence than the 108.


Matt Robinson - 29 Sep 2015









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2015 Peugeot 108. Image by Peugeot.2015 Peugeot 108. Image by Peugeot.2015 Peugeot 108. Image by Peugeot.2015 Peugeot 108. Image by Peugeot.2015 Peugeot 108. Image by Peugeot.

2015 Peugeot 108. Image by Peugeot.2015 Peugeot 108. Image by Peugeot.2015 Peugeot 108. Image by Peugeot.2015 Peugeot 108. Image by Peugeot.2015 Peugeot 108. Image by Peugeot.








 

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