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New-shape baby Peugeot fares well with improved rear end and small engine, but fails to threaten class leaders

What is it?
There are few surprises in store in the new Peugeot 108 just after you’ve sampled the near-identical Toyota Aygo and Citroën C1 city cars, both of which are made in the same factory in the Czech Republic and have been for the past nine years.

Apart from prices, some dealer differences, your own brand prejudices and some nose-tail styling variations, this is the same car we’ve recently tested under two different badges.

Only details of the deal — perhaps PCP prices or Peugeot’s 'Just Add Fuel' deal make a real difference between this and the rest.

What is it like?
Like its peers, the Peugeot 108 is a decent little car. At just 3.5-metres long, it’s very agile and light to steer, not least because it’s far lighter than most in its class at just 855kg beside the kerb for the 1.0-litre version – the one we tried here.

But it’s not the class leader: the VW Up thrashes it for mechanical sophistication, and the Fiat 500 is cuter (if pricier).

With the Toyota-sourced 1.0-litre engine 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 diesel mid-range oomph: the lack of passing thrust between 30 and 60mph on A-roads can be seriously frustrating on B-roads. There is a remedy — the 20 per cent more powerful Peugeot-sourced 1.2 triple — but that engine rather lacks refinement in an arena where refinement is becoming the watchword.

Even the 1.0-litre is inclined to baulk and shunt in town at low revs, in a way Volkswagen would never allow its similarly engined Up to get away with.

Though the relationship with previous models is obvious via both hand and eye, quite a lot has changed about the 2014 model.

There’s a new outer body style and a new-look fascia. Neither is much more memorable or even more modern than what we had before years, but least they’re different.

The suspension has been re-rated, with the rear especially thoroughly revised to improve the ride control and composure, and it works. This is an easy car to drive, and for all its feeling of cheapness and evident lack of sound-deadening, it rides the cratered B-roads of Britain pretty well.

Positives are a nice zingy sound from the 1.0-litre engine, which always feels willing even if it lacks mid-range oomph. The 1.2 costs more and is less refined, but it works far more effortlessly out of town.

Handling is neat and safe, although the seats don’t hold you very well. Fuel consumption remains brilliant, and CO2 falls below the all-important (in UK, at least) 99g/km threshold.

But against the best, the engine shunts, sizzles and occasionally baulks at low revs in a way that’s starting to look old-hat.

Should I buy one?
We’d say it depends on the deal. This is a thoroughly decent little car, eminently buyable if there’s a deal going. But it’s not the best in class so unique equipment or keen pricing would be the main reason for choosing it.

Despite the model change, we’d say further improvements will be needed if the car is to beat off its keenest rivals, and quite soon.

Peugeot 108 Active 1.0 5dr

Price £9895; 0-62mph 14.3sec; Top speed 99mph; Economy 65.7mpg (combined); C02 99g/km; Kerb weight 855kg; Engine type, cc 4cyl, in line, 998cc petrol; Power 68bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 70lb ft at 4800rpm; Gearbox five-speed manual
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