The 108 is now a little more sophisticated, better equipped and about 55kg heavier than the outgoing Peugeot 107. However, its drag coefficient falls from 0.34 to an impressive 0.29, and this, along with the availability of stop-start technology and a fuel-saving automated manual gearbox, means CO2 emissions drop to as low as 88g/km.
All models come in at 99g/km or below to qualify for zero road tax. That includes the new three-cylinder, normally aspirated 1.2-litre Peugeot Puretech engine now offered, in addition to the Toyota 1.0-litre triple carried over from the 107. This same option is also provided for in the Toyota Aygo and Citroën C1 versions.
The 108 itself is little changed dimensionally compared to the 107. At just 3.5 metres long, it’s now 40mm longer, slightly lower and shares an identical width, but its proportioning has changed in that it has less of a cab-forward look, with the result that it has a longer bonnet. Wearing its maker’s rather traditional corporate façade gives the 108 the most conventional face of the Peugeot/Citroën/Toyota trio.
With the Toyota-sourced 1.0-litre three cylinder motor under the hood, the 108 makes a decent little city car. The unit is smooth when spinning, and for a petrol-burner its fuel consumption is very impressive — almost in the diesel class.
The drawback is a lack of mid-range oomph and slow acceleration between 30 and 60mph. There is a remedy — the 20 per cent more powerful Peugeot-sourced 1.2-litre triple.
Its extra capacity gets you 81bhp instead of 67bhp and, more importantly, 86lb ft as opposed to 71lb ft. It appears usefully earlier, too, at 2750rpm rather than a late-in-the-day 4800rpm, the result being a 0-62mph time of 11.0sec rather than 14.3sec.
However, unless you’re especially delicate with both clutch and throttle, urban stop-go progress threatens to be anything but smooth. The culprits are a late-clamping clutch that only fully engages as the pedal nears the top of its travel and an engine mounting system that allows a surprising amount of driveline shunt.
Factor in the triple’s shortage of very low-end torque – you need to feed in more power as the clutch bites if the engine isn’t to falter – and you’ll be reminding yourself of what it was like to be a learner driver.
This is a flaw that Peugeot and its co-conspirators need to sort now, because it significantly undermines your enjoyment of a car that will se a lot of urban clutch action. It’s all the more a shame when you discover how enjoyable the 108 can be once on the move.
The 1.2’s extra thrust is evident whenever some mid-range urge is required – often, in other words – and it’s delivered with a smoothly enthusiastic warble that encourages you to make the best of its game B-road manners.
That the Peugeot rolls a bit matters little, its willingness to slice through curves enhanced by steering that’s accurate and of decently consistent feel. On twisting backroads you can soon develop a satisfying rhythm, and all against the backdrop of the triple’s game gurgle.
Its relatively soft suspension allows the Peugeot to ride pretty well, too, although it sometimes gets choppy at speed. Cruising is subdued, the minor controls are easily manipulated and the front seats remain comfortably supportive unless you’re cornering hard.