LITTLE cars have become as much a fashion item as a pair of designer shoes and the latest model to get the personal touch is Peugeot's new baby.
The 108 is the successor to Peugeot's popular 107 city car and like its predecessor is part of a joint venture that sees it built is the same factory in the Czech Republic as the Toyota Aygo and Citroen C1.
And just like before Peugeot has stamped its own identity onto the 108 to set it apart from the latest Aygo and C1, all of which are going on sale now.
Priced from £8,245 the 108 comes with a choice of two three cylinder engines, three and five door body styles and is also available with a full length canvas roof for a bit of open top fun.
That's just one feature Peugeot hopes will endear the 108 to younger buyers who can afford to choose from some richly equipped alternatives.
The mini car market has come on leaps and bounds in the past couple of years with models such as the VW up!, Fiat 500 and the MINI itself letting drivers make a car their own.
The 108 stakes its claim with a good looking design, some vibrant paint jobs (some two tone), and a variety of decal trims for inside and out.
Even more important in these days of onboard connectivity is a seven-inch touchscreen which is available on all but the entry level 108.
It allows for smartphone functions to be linked into the car and all in all Peugeot claims there are more than 5,000 different ways to personalise a 108.
There are four trim levels - Access, Active, Allure and Feline - with the range topping out at £12,245.
All come with LED running lights, electric front windows and central locking but the cheapest version in Access trim is only a three door and lacks air conditioning as well as the touchscreen.
The 108 gets going in Active trim and beyond where it is priced from £9,495 for the hatch and £10,345 for the Top! cabriolet version.
As such, the 108 makes a mark with a clean looking interior complete with digital radio, Bluetooth and steering wheel mounted audio and phone controls.
Plug in points are available in the centre console and onboard storage is more than adequate with door pockets, trays, cup holders and a handy chute in the glovebox which can accommodate a drinks bottle.
The Access and Active models are available only with the 1.0-litre engine, sourced from Toyota and an updated version of the one used in the 107.
The more powerful 1.2 block is Peugeot's new - and highly efficient - three cylinder engine powers the higher grade Allure and Feline versions of the 108 and to get that it costs from £10,995 in the hatch and £11,845 for the cabriolet.
At this level the car comes with a rev counter - a graphic display flanking the speedo - a starter button and a reversing camera as well as 15-inch alloys and automatic lights while the top specification Feline adds dual zone air conditioning and leather upholstery.
On the road we found there was little to choose between the two engines. Around town the 1.0-litre has more than enough get up and go although the 1.2 is slightly quicker - 0 to 60 in 11 seconds compared to 14.3 and a top speed of 106mph as opposed to 99.
Both have tax free emission ratings below 100g/km and Peugeot is claiming 68.9mpg for the 1.0 and 65.7 for the 1.2. Add stop/start - a £250 extra and only on the 1.0-litre engine in Active trim - and the mpg goes up to 74.3 with a CO2 rating of 88g/km.
We found the two engines - both with five speed manual gearboxes - to be nicely frugal averaging 59.3 in the 1.0-litre and 51mpg from the 1.2 over similar routes. That's a significant improvement over the 107 where low 40s were realistic fuel returns.
Compared to the 107 the car feels more sturdy, is livelier to drive and is quieter inside - even in the cabrio with the roof open.
The 108 is slightly longer and will accommodate four adults in some comfort, especially in the five door where the rear doors open wide to ease access.
Luggage space is also greater at 196 litres (up from 139) and with the rear seats folded the capacity rises to 868 litres. Loading has been made easier with a lower load lip and a fabric luggage blind attached to the tailgate which creates a wide opening for a little car.
All in all the 108 is smart and classy enough to impress and with the decal packs - there are five called Dressy, Kilt, Diamond, Tattoo and Barcode each costing £350 - it can become highly individual and something which will stand out from the crowd.