Published on July 30th, 2015 | by Gavin0
Peugeot 108: The Age of the City Car
Driving in London is somewhat of a luxury nowadays. Traffic jams, congestion charges, and a lack of parking means owning one is often more trouble than its worth, which is why I sold my car three years ago and, despite a love of speed machines, largely I’ve not regretted the decision. Manufacturers have recognised this trend and are doing all they can to tempt people back to driving regularly with a new category known as the city car. And after recently testing the Peugeot 108, I’d be lying if I said I’m not tempted to dip my toe back into the market.
Although small cars are nothing new, this new breed differs in so much that, unlike early cars such as the original Mini or Fiat Cinquecento, they offer nearly as much luxury as their larger counterparts. Arguably the car to pioneer this trend was the hugely popular Smart Car, which still enjoys large sales today, but there are now so many great cars that the Smart is a bit redundant in comparison. Undoubtedly, the front runner is the chic Fiat 500 which is seen very much as the blueprint for creating a successful city car.
So here is Peugeot’s contender to the crown, the 108. Being a big fan of the 108’s bigger brother the 208, it has a lot to live up to and I can’t wait for it to be delivered. I am trying out the 82bhp Top! model which comes with a retractable roof that came in very handy for what turned out to be the hottest week of the year.
As I drove around London, the word that kept popping up was cute and to be honest, despite its feminine connotations, there probably isn’t a better word in the dictionary to describe it. The sultry curves, petite stature and chromed grill turned many (majority female) heads, but when a 6ft tall burly man appeared from the driver seat I received more than a few confused looks.
But this didn’t put me off the car one bit. Initially, I wasn’t wowed by the performance of the 108 as I’m far more used to turbo engines and rapid acceleration, so if speed is a deal breaker, city cars aren’t for you. However, things got a whole lot more interesting when I hit gridlocked traffic on Edgware Road; this is where the 108 came into its own. Normally, I’d have to sit patiently, growing frustrated, but the elfin Peugeot could bob and weave better than Sugar Ray Leonard, finding spaces I’d never attempt to drive through in any other car, and I was soon free.
I know I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions that this is a small car, but until you sit at a set of traffic lights and feel intimidated by the beastly Nissan Micra that pulls up beside you, you don’t fully appreciate how diminutive it really is! This has its advantages though, especially when it comes to parking in Soho at 7pm (aka theatre peak time). Normally I’d be scratching around looking for the opportune moment when someone leaves their spot, but in the 108 I found a space within minutes. When I say space though, it was more like a gap not much longer than a bicycle, created by a selfishly parked Mercedes. I was parked in no time though with the assistance of the inbuilt reversing camera.
But don’t let the size put you off, I felt safe even at high speed thanks to a host of technological advancements including Electronic Stability Programme and Active City Brake; it even comes with a 4 star Euro Ncap rating.
The interior is minimalistic yet works; everything is controlled from a nifty touch screen interface to save space. Annoyingly though, there is no Sat Nav option, which seems like a baffling decision given that the screen seems readymade for one. Like with any small car, compromises have to be made, so the boot space and rear room is minimal. While I wouldn’t recommend for families, I managed to squeeze in four adults with luggage, so can still be functional for short one-off trips.
With the planet going green, long gone are the days where the 4X4 and gas guzzling sporty types are king of the road. The Peugeot 108 is testament to how far the city car has come in a relatively short space of time, and can genuinely compete with the big boys in an urban setting. Coming from someone that was firmly in the ‘bigger is better’ mentality, the 108 has turned my attitude right around and found it difficult adjusting back to driving larger cars. Great value, efficient, and convenient; the city car is here to stay, and I’m all for it.
The Peugeot 108 is available from £8,345 OTR. The model I drove was the 3 door 108 Top! Allure 1.2L PureTech priced £12,095