Not a bit of it. The idea has been around for years, but more recently the most obvious example can be found in the Peugeot, Citroen and Toyota ranges, as the 107
are near-identical under the skin.
Weve spent a week with Peugeots contribution to the trio. Is it still competitive with the new Volkswagen group (VAG) arrivals? Read on to find out
Its ironic that facelifts in the automotive industry rarely improve the styling of the car. If you were a Hollywood celebrity, youd probably sue if you came out of the operating theatre with a wonky nose and your eyes further apart, but it happens all the time with cars.
The 107 bucks that trend, swapping its old gormless grin for a more subtle face, and our top-spec Allure model also gets well-integrated LED daytime running lights.
Less has changed on the cars rump, though there was little wrong there in the first place. The all-glass tailgate is still a neat idea – one copied by VW – and the rear lights are large and distinctive. And our five-door car doesnt really lose out in looks to the three-door variants.
Overall, for a car that appeared in 2005, its still a fresh, modern-looking design, more interesting than its German rivals – if not blessed with the same subtlety.
The same applies inside, where the toy-like dashboard is a far cry from the Germanic simplicity of the VW, Skoda and Seat. The heating controls are large and incredibly easy to use, the buttons for the hazard warning lights, air-conditioning and heated rear screen are enormous, and the stereo has but a smattering of buttons to press.
Its fun to look at too. Theres a large speedo directly behind the wheel, and a rev-counter sprouts from the side like an aliens eyeball. They all move with the height-adjustable steering column too, meaning theyll be in perfect view wherever you put the wheel.
Adjustment in the seats is limited but the seats themselves seem comfortable, even after a few hours behind the wheel. Its roomy too front and rear, provided you and all your friends arent all six feet tall.
Its not perfect, however. First, the boot is made to look tiny by cars like the new Fiat Panda and the VAG trio. The interior plastics feel as toy-like as they look (and were talking Kinder Egg toys here), and we also experienced a few odd quality niggles despite testing a car with around 4,000 miles on the odometer.
Firstly, the interior fan developed an annoying chirrup on the lowest setting. More strangely, the air-recirculation control seemed to migrate from the exterior air setting to mid-way between the two all by itself. Vibration? Bumps? Who knows.
Finally, though relatively easy to set up, the USB connection occasionally seemed reluctant to recognise an iPod plugged into it, and on one occasion froze the iPod for a few minutes. None are serious issues, but all take the sheen off the new car experience.
Small Peugeots have often been known for their fun handling, and at moderate and faster pace this still applies to the 107. The steering is fairly quick and accurate and chatters messages back to you from the road surface.
Unlike smaller Peugeots of the past, its also fairly fool-proof. Youre unlikely to get into much trouble chucking the 107 through bends, provided youre not going far too quick for the conditions. Theres some safe understeer at higher speeds, letting you know when to back off the pace.
Its easy enough to drive around town too. The steering is weightier than in the up/Mii/Citigo, but it still makes light work of tight city bends and tighter parking spots. Visibility is also pretty good.
After the big car ride of the newer trio though, the 107s bumpy and occasionally rattling ride quality feels a bit too old-school. Things dont improve much on the motorway either, where the 107 thumps over expansion joints and wanders around at fairly modest motorway speeds. The up! and co have really made it feel old-hat as far as long-distance refinement is concerned.
With 68 horsepower from its 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder engine, the 107 is never likely to be granted any hot hatch comparisons, but in the first few gears its light kerb weight and revvy engine give you all the performance youd need in city driving. Its fairly quiet too as long as you keep the revs low, although its a little more vibratory at idle than the up! trio.
Hit the open roads though, and the case for the 107 looks a little weaker. Where even the 59bhp up! has surprising torque at higher speeds, a change into third gear kills performance in the 107.
Weve not driven older examples of the 107, C1 or Aygo before, but as wed not previously heard any negative rumblings about the cars performance, theres a suspicion that recent CO2-reducing tweaks have messed up the gear ratios and blunted performance.
Thats a shame, as it turns a peppy low-speed car into a tardy one across country and on the motorway.
Value for money
Generally at carwow wed recommend not spending any more than you have to on a city car. While its nice to have some creature comforts, these cars spend so much of their time doing miniscule mileages and short
journeys that many of the high-tech gadgets available are a bit of a waste of money.
Our Allure had an on-the-road price of 10,045, which seems a bit steep – but a similarly-equipped up!, Citigo or Mii is about the same, so thats not a fault unique to the Peugeot (or indeed the Citroen or Toyota).
Our advice? Do without the rev counter, leather steering wheel, alloy wheels, LEDs and other largely useless bits and bobs and stick to the mid-range Active trim. In fact, if you can do without air-con and electric windows then 7,995 nets you a basic 107 Access. For trips to the shops, how much kit do you need?
All manual 107s have a combined fuel economy figure of 62.7mpg and benefit from free road tax and zero congestion charge. That does make it better value than the VAG trio, for which green versions cost a little extra. We couldnt obtain actual economy figures, but the digital display still hadnt dropped below half way in 360 miles of driving.
The 107 also gets group 3E insurance, and four stars for front and side impacts in Euro NCAP crash testing.
We really wanted to like the 107. Its one of the funkiest city cars on sale despite its advancing years, and still hugely economical. Its also got an interesting engine and a spacious and well-designed interior.
Unfortunately, the arrival of the VW Up!
, Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii has made the Peugeot/Citroen/Toyota trio really look its age, and a mere facelift wont help more fundamental deficiencies.
Refinement is lacking, performance is below-par out of the city, and that bright and bubbly interior isnt as well-built as youd hope. The 107 is still a good car, and still worth a look if you cant abide by the dour Germanic ambience of the VAG trio, but objectively it now lags behind the best in class.
What the press think
Even in isolation, the wider motoring press still pick up some of our concerns about the 107 – long-distance refinement, a small boot and a fidgety ride. They also pick up the highlights – neat styling, good fuel economy and light controls. However, recent comparison tests agree that its now been outclassed by newer rivals.
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