Road tests by motoring journalist Tim Saunders
Above: Tim Saunders with Vicki Butler-Henderson
Peugeot 108 Top!
By Tim Saunders
Push button starts are characteristic of older cars but they are increasingly making a come back.
The latest Peugeot 108 city car incorporates one, together with keyless entry. This means that as long as the key is in the driver’s pocket, they can open the car and drive off (after putting their foot on the clutch and pushing start).
One wet Wednesday morning when I take eldest daughter Harriett to school there is, all of a sudden, a frighteningly loud beep, which repeats for a few minutes. I don’t want to be late so I ignore it. We arrive some 10 minutes later in one piece with no punctures. Perplexed, I forget all about it until I return and push the start button. Only to find that a stop sign appears in capital letters on the dashboard. We are not going anywhere. Resisting the urge to phone the AA, I reach for the glovebox and delve into the user manual. Remaining calm I push the buttons on the keyfob together with the start button and thankfully am able to start the engine. Whether this is an electrical fault I do not know but the experience is one I do not wish to repeat. Give me a key ignition any day.
Let’s get one other gripe out of the way. On installing my daughter’s cumbersome car seat in the rear it is clear that the 108 is just a tad too small for our family. Thank goodness we’re only driving short distances. Heidi would prefer my seat to be pushed further forward but I insist I can’t drive with my knees round my neck. I can feel her feet massaging the base of my spine through the thin seat. I keep reminding myself that this is a city car not one for the family as such.
Aside from this there’s a good driving position and like its predecessor it’s enjoyable to drive, helped by the fact that it is quite low to the ground. I really do like this feisty little car that will reach 60mph from standstill in 11 seconds. The little Pug with its three cylinders roars with a slightly deeper rumble than your average lawnmower and it makes fast progress. The bars on the fuel gauge just do not seem to deplete, no matter how demanding the driving. It will reach just over 60mph in second gear…
Because I am testing the Top! version it has an electric fabric roof, which no matter what the weather, is a delight to open (just turn up the heating if it’s cold outside). That roof also enables large items to be easily transported, such as a bath, for instance...
The 108 replaces the much loved and successful 107 (launched in 2005 and in production until 2014). I have fond memories of driving the 107 across Europe. When my wife and I were married in Bulgaria, our little blue 107 even had wedding ribbon on the bonnet.
It was the glass tailgate that was unique at the time and I am pleased to see that this has been carried over to the 108.
During this test it really comes home to me just how overcrowded the UK has become. Drive during the day and you might as well not bother; the queues, the tailbacks and the learner drivers clogging up the road network. Yes, 20 years ago I was a learner driver but there were far fewer cars on the roads. Today, a 10 mile journey on B and C roads takes me close to an hour to travel during the day. Yet at night time it can be achieved in well under half that time.
This car excites me because it is visually very attractive, helped by its diamond white exterior and finished to a good standard. I like the chrome grille, door handles and wing mirrors. It adds a touch of class and promotes a welcome resurgence in its use.
Peugeot has really struck gold with its tiny and elegant 108. Sticking rigidly to three criteria: affordable, modern and stylish it is a joy to behold. Overall, the goal of presenting a sophisticated and premium feel in a small car has been achieved.
Model tested: Peugeot 108 Allure 1.2 Top! 5dr
New price: £12,495
Engine: 1.2-litre 3 cylinder petrol
Top speed: 106mph
Economy: Over 50mpg