£13,840 Price range
Though better thought of than its predecessor, the 108 gets mixed reviews. Joining the cars it shares its underpinnings with – the Citroen C1 and Toyota Aygo – it has improved over the 107 in nearly every department, but some big named rivals have swooped in and moved the class on so far that the French/Japanese trio are still playing catch up.
But one area where the 108 has stolen a march over almost everything in the class is in offering a convertible version, not even available on the Aygo. Okay, so it’s a European-style, retracting full length fabric roof rather than a full convertible, but there’s a wind in the hair joie de vivre you don’t get on key rivals. Is it worth the extra?
The 108 TOP is in almost all physical departments identical to the 108 – and the Citroen C1 and Toyota Aygo – so everything that applies to the hardtop car applies to the open top one. You get a perky and fun interior which, while not a million miles away from the other twins, is wrapped in Peugeot-specific colours and graphics. The central touchscreen display is standard on all TOP! models and can be paired with your smartphone.
The back seats are already not the most spacious in the 108 and the 108 TOP makes matters a little worse – not in shoulder and legroom, but up top. Headroom is already pretty tight in the 108, but the folding fabric roof mechanism chews into the space some more – and since it doesn’t retract down the back of the tailgate too, rear seat passengers will never feel the benefit.
Take careful note of the fact that the 108 TOP is not available in either base ‘Access’ specification nor top ‘Feline’ trim.
Nothing changes under the skin for the TOP, so how it behaves in motion is no different than the regular hatchback 108 and its cousins. It’s quieter than the old generation but, while a better long-distance companion, not a car you’ll want to take on long journeys.
There’s a somewhat wearing edge to the ride at speed, not to mention the somewhat vocal exhaust. There’s quite a lot of wind noise too – though far less than you might expect from a fabric-roofed car, open or closed. You won’t be holding any hushed conversations while tanning your pate.
It’s as good in the urban environment as you’d expect, with good visibility and light steering. The TOP only enhances the experience of town driving too. The drive is more tilted towards nippiness than fun and the ride is a little firmer than it perhaps ought to be.
It gets a bit better out on B-roads, where it almost encourages some preservation-of-momentum style mischief, but if you get stuck behind something then the 108 will lack the oomph to get past and carry on with your day.
For the TOP, the available engines are trim-specific. Go for the Active trim and you’ll be faced with the 68hp 1.0-litre petrol engine, while the Allure only comes with the 82hp 1.2-litre. Both engines have an official combined economy over 65mpg and CO2 ratings below 100g/km. The 1.0 is also available with a stop/start system that cuts emissions to just 88g/km.
If you plan to drive longer journeys every so often then the more powerful 1.2 is the better option. It’s the engine also found in the larger 208 and whisks the 108 to 62mph in a more than respectable 11 seconds – compared to 14.3 for the 1.0-litre. However, the 1.0 can struggle a bit around town too and both are rather on the noisy side – Peugeot hasn’t isolated the traditional three-cylinder thrum as well as some of its rivals.
Such is the similarity between these co-developed cars that Euro NCAP crashed a Toyota Aygo and carried the scores over to the two French cars. It doesn’t make for wholly convincing reading though, because the trio only nets a four-star rating. 80% in both of the child and adult occupant categories is only on the cusp of a five-star score, with the latter marked down due to the steering column moving a lot in the front impact test.
It’s well appointed for safety kit though, with six airbags, electronic stability control and a speed assistance system. Allure TOP buyers get a reversing camera too. Bear in mind though that rivals can boast a five-star rating in this category.
Due to the extra cost of the roof and the fact it’s not available at lower trim levels, the 108 TOP starts at a scarcely believable £10,345 and runs up to £12,245 for the five-door Allure version. Almost any other city car ever made is cheaper to buy – with the exception of the unloved and un-missed Aston Martin Cygnet. It’s a lot of money, but how much the enjoyment of wind across your cranium adds is an entirely personal decision.
The expense doesn’t stop there though. The insurance grouping is much higher because fabric roofs are easier to penetrate and more expensive to repair. It’s still the same old 108 when it comes to the pumps and your annual trip to the Post Office to tax it though. It’s also well equipped – that seven-inch touchscreen is somewhat alluring.
The two most important facts about the 108 is that it’s far better than the 107 was and, with the fabric roof, it offers a unique selling point absent from anything else in the class apart from its sister C1 Airscape. Even the shared-origin Aygo doesn’t have an open alternative. This may be enough to sway some potential buyers.
It’s not as spacious nor as competent as some key rivals though, so it’s tough to recommend as the car from this class that you ought to buy, objectivity aforethought. Still, it’s the most conventional looking of its family and offers plenty of tech and personalisation – there’s enough to like to make it worthwhile.
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