£8,495 - £13,385 Price range
65 - 68 MPG
Parachuted into one of the most competitive classes in the automotive world, the Peugeot 108 city car has quite a challenge on its hands if it plans to steal sales from the class-leading Volkswagen Up and its sister cars, the SEAT Mii and the Skoda Citigo.
Only the Hyundai i10 – with its spacious interior and generous equipment levels – can thus far claim to have the measure of the trio of Volkswagen Group cars. Even then, which you choose is arguably down to personal preference.
Just like the Volkswagen Up, the Peugeot 108 is one of three models that are based on the same underpinnings – the Peugeot shares the majority of its components with the Toyota Aygo and the Citroen C1
From the off, the Peugeot has all the important boxes ticked: it’s cheap to buy, frugal to run, has small dimensions and cheeky looks. This latest model also adds equipment such as a touchscreen infotainment system, air conditioning, plus automatic headlights and wipers.
The old Peugeot 108 was always an excellent city car. Its willing little three-cylinder engine, in town at least, gave nippy performance and emitted a pleasant thrum that meant working it hard wasn’t a chore on the ears. The same wasn’t true at motorway speeds, where the engine noise soon manifested itself as a constant and annoying drone. Peugeot has looked to address this in the new model and it’s something VW managed with the Up.
Last but not least is the option to fit a fold-back fabric roof that is electrically operated and gives something of a convertible feel. It was an option fitted to the 108 Top Allure that carwow drove, although as ever we’ll also look at what the UK’s leading car magazines had to say when they tested the car.
Check out our handy Peugeot 108 colours guide to see the shades available to choose from.
Cheapest to buy: 1.0-litre Active
Cheapest to run: 1.0-litre Active
Fastest model: 1.2-litre Feline
Most popular: 1.0-litre Active
Slip behind the wheel of the 108 and the changes compared to the old car are instantly clear. Exposed body-coloured metal has been replaced by plastic trim on the doors which gives the car a more grown up feel. Keeping things looking suitably youthful are optional bright coloured plastic surrounds for the air vents and the seven-inch infotainment system (fitted to Active models and above). It has to be said, though, plastic quality falls behind that of the Up and the Hyundai i10.
Peel back the fabric roof, which can be specified in all but entry-level Access trim, and the interior is filled with light. It’s a nifty feature on a car of this price, but it does have its drawbacks and with the roof down the infotainment screen can be hard to read in direct sunlight, while an annoying whistle can be heard at speed.
Peugeot 108 passenger space
While the comparatively spacious VW Up is an all new model, the 108 is a thorough reworking of the old car and that shows when it comes to passenger space. Room in the front is fine, but adults will feel squeezed in the back and six-footers can forget about getting comfortable if there’s someone similarly tall up front. Headroom in particular is in short supply and the small doors mean accessing the rear isn’t particularly easy either. Rear windows that clip out (rather than winding down) cement the claustrophobic feel.
Peugeot 108 boot space
With 196 litres of capacity, the new 108 has a boot that’s 57 litres bigger than the old car’s, but it’s still not enough to compete with the 251-litre boot in the Volkswagen Up or the Hyundai i10’s 252-litre load bay.
Small dimensions make the 108 perfect for cutting through congested city streets, leading one reviewer to say “around town the 108’s tight turning circle, compact dimensions and light controls make driving a breeze”. Nonetheless, a high biting point for the clutch can make for jerky progress at low speeds – not helped by the throbbing three-cylinder engine that often feels like it is about to stall.
The rest of the time, though, the 108 is a joy to use on inner streets as it squeezes through tight spaces and nips into gaps in traffic. The Allure model carwow tested also came with a reversing camera which made it super easy to shoehorn into tight parking spaces.
Compared to the old model, the suspension also does a decent job of smoothing out bumps, although it can get bouncy over a succession of undulations.
Town driving was never a problem for the old 108 – its weaknesses became apparent during motorway driving, where it could be a little too noisy. That problem has been addressed to some extent in the new car, but it still can’t live with the VW Up or the Hyundai i10 when it comes to interior refinement. Reviewers advise going for the more powerful 1.2-litre model if you plan to do a lot of motorway driving.
There are two petrol engines to choose from in the Peugeot 108 range – a 1.0-litre that’s carried over from the old model and a new 1.2-litre version. The latter is worth going for if you expect to use the 108 for long trips. With 81hp it’s 14hp more powerful than the smaller engine and that modest increase is enough to drop the car’s 0-62mph time from 14.3 seconds to a relatively brisk 11.0 seconds dead. An extra 14b ft of torque is also on offer and makes the car feel like it has more go, more often.
Cheap running costs are these engines’ forte and neither disappoints in this respect – the 1.0-litre model can return 68.9mpg and is free to tax, thanks to CO2 emissions of 95g/km. Spend an extra £350 on the standard Active model and you can also get engine stop/start, which increases fuel economy to 74.3mpg and lowers CO2 emissions by 6g/km.
Opting for the more powerful 1.2-litre engine barely makes a dent in running costs – the car is still free to tax, while fuel economy is a thoroughly respectable 65.7mpg. A £1,250 premium over the less-well-equipped, 1.0-litre car is the only thing that might put some people off.
A four-star safety rating might sound poor when the Volkswagen Up got five stars, but in reality, the 2014 evaluation the 108 was subjected to was much tougher than the 2011 test the VW passed with flying colours.
Standard safety features in the 108 include anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, six airbags and two Isofix child-seat mounts, while hill-start assist makes the car easier to start on steep inclines.
With the kudos that the Volkswagen badge brings, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Up would hold its value better than the Peugeot 108, but that’s not what our experts say. In fact, the 108 should hold onto a few more per cent of its original value than the VW can manage, over a three-year/36,000 mile period.
Do more digging and things look even better for the Peugeot. The entry-level model is more than £500 cheaper than the basic VW Up and is also better equipped – electric windows and central locking (absent in basic Ups) are both standard throughout the 108 range. You could also get a noticeably better finance deal than the Up thanks to Peugeot’s brilliant Just Add Fuel scheme.
Durability is somewhere that the Volkswagen arguably still has the edge over the Peugeot, but both cars come with the same relatively poor three-year/60,000-mile warranty. If you want guaranteed reliability we would point you towards either the Hyundai i10 or the Kia Picanto, which offer the peace of mind of an 100,000 mile warranty.
The new Peugeot 108 is a vast improvement over the car it replaces thanks to boosted safety and even lower running costs. It is also better equipped and enjoyable to own, especially if you choose to spec the full-length folding fabric roof that effectively transforms the car into a cut-price convertible.
All good news then, but elephants in the room come in the form of the Hyundai i10 and the Volkswagen Up – the duo are more fun to drive, have added solidity and are more practical – three advantages that are hard to ignore in this class.