► CAR’s Peugeot 108 review
► Punchy PureTech 82 tested
► 1.2-litre priced from £12k
Peugeot, Citroen and Toyota’s relationship has been going strong for 12 years now. Ever since the brands shook hands, the Peugeot 108 (and its 107 predecessor), Citroen C1 and Toyota Aygo trio have been taking on the city car world and proving pretty successful in the process.
The second-generation cars, first launched in 2014, were treated to a personality transplant through a series of visual tweaks to make them stand out from each other a little more.
The Peugeot 108 we’re testing here was designed to be the more upmarket choice of the trio, compared with the fun-loving Aygo and chic C1. We’ve driven the punchiest engine on offer, the 1.2-litre PureTech petrol.
So what’s that PureTech engine like?
Thankfully not as slow as the breathless 1.0-litre also on offer, and it still has a bit of character. The classic 3-cyl thrum is still present, if a little coarse and thrashy in tone.
There’s 81bhp available to play with, but the larger engine’s extra torque is more useful. The PureTech gets 87lb ft compared with the 1.0-litre’s 70lb ft, and it arrives far lower down the rev range so motorway stints are easier to live with. Top-gear overtaking manoeuvres are now possible without creating tailbacks in the outside lane, and there’s just enough go to make sure you aren’t regularly overtaken by lorries or people on horseback.
The PureTech-equipped 108 will manage 0-62mph in 10.9 seconds and on to a dizzying top speed of 106mph.
Poised and precise or stodgy to drive?
It’d be a bit of a problem if a lighter-than-air city car wasn’t a hoot through urban streets, right?
The 108 darts around right-angle corners and tight streets with ease, never failing to put a smug smile on your face when you exploit a gap that larger cars can’t.
The steering is nicely weighted, and the short-travel clutch means stop-start traffic is a piece of cake. The vague gearbox, however, will irritate after a while: it’s a five-speeder with a huge lever yet a short throw, and selecting a gear feels like you’ve jammed a stick into a bag of marbles.
Get it out of its urban environment and there’s plenty of grip but body roll is more prominent than we’d like. The 108 feels a little top heavy when encountering sharp corners, and you might find your head starts to sway considerably more than you’d expect.
Motorway trips can be irritating, too, as the 108 hops and skips over bumps that even a supermini wouldn’t notice when at a 70mph cruise. The slightest dip in the road will make the little Pug fidget and even tramline at times, so you’ll likely be in need of a lie down after a trip lasting longer than two hours.
Keep the 108 in the city and it’ll do you no wrong.
How’s the interior?
The 108 doesn’t have the same refinement inside as a VW Up, for example. Everything is screwed on properly but iffy plastics dominate the door inlays and the hollow-feeling doors clunk like a dilapidated greenhouse. However, you have to remember this car’s target market.
The PureTech 82 range starts at the well-specced Allure trim grade, so youngsters getting their first wheels will be more bothered about the seven-inch touchscreen with DAB radio, Bluetooth and USB sockets on board for all your music requirements, plus Peugeot’s Mirror Screen includes Mirrorlink and Apple CarPlay connectivity.
Further luxuries include automatic headlights, keyless start and a reversing camera, while the level-up GT Line cars add sat-nav, alloy wheels, a rear spoiler and a sporty central exhaust finisher.
There’s also an excitably named TOP! model with a roll-top fabric roof.
I regularly like to drive my friends around…
Then you’re going to struggle, as those relegated to the rear won’t want to spend too much time back there. The rear pew has just enough legroom and headroom (provided you don’t choose the TOP! version) but it’s not exactly a space to relax.
The 227-litre boot can’t really carry much more than three big shopping bags, and the 868-litre offering with the seats down isn’t enough to compete with the Hyundai i10 or the Ford Ka+ for boot space class honours.
In isolation, the Peugeot 108 is a cheeky, nippy city car that will do you well if you’re the kind of young city dweller it’s aimed at. The PureTech engine does just manage to pull the skin off a rice pudding and makes the 108 capable enough for motorway travel, but the jiggly ride and vague gearbox make it irritating at speed. It’s not as keenly priced as its 107 predecessor, but it’s still one of the more characterful small cars you could go for.
Read all our Peugeot reviews