Peugeot 108 GT Line

1.2

Peugeot 108 GT Line, side static
Peugeot 108 GT Line, front static
Peugeot 108 GT Line, rear static
Peugeot 108 GT Line, rear seats
Peugeot 108 GT Line, front seats
Peugeot 108 GT Line, dashboard
Peugeot 108 GT Line, boot

EVER more crowded roads, fuel prices heading skyward and a general eco-greening of drivers' consciences makes it a fine time to downsize.

That might mean merely shoehorning the family from a huge SUV into an only slightly smaller one, but the message is clear: little is better.

And of course the car makers, not being daft and wanting to turn a profit however small their cars, are happy to oblige with tiddlier machines that come packed with all the big car goodies.

Which brings us to the perky Peugeot you see here, gleaming and smart in its £495 worth of raven black and looking quite the chic around-towner. A rear spoiler, fancy alloy wheels and rear tinted windows (that don't wind down but only fold out a little) continue the upmarket vibes.

Same goes for the interior, where the blackness is softened by a light grey roof lining and - nice touch - splashes of vivid red on the dash. There's leather on the seats, steering wheel and gear knob too.

The big car ambience continues with satellite navigation, reversing camera, electrically adjusted and heated door mirrors and automatic air conditioning, all helping cushion the blow if you're forced to give up the big car.

So far so good. Sitting on the showroom floor this near the top of the 108 range machine (out priced only by a version with big folding canvas roof for a semi-cabrio feel) looks decidedly stylish.

Might not have the rear seat space of the car you've just downsized from, but until Dr Who turns into reality the tape measure must rule. Same with the boot, but at least the rear seats flop forward when luggage wins over legroom.

Then you push the starter button (no key in the ignition at this level of 108 plushness) and the shrunken big car hopes may wobble a bit. The throb of the three-cylinder engine is an endearing noise to some (me included) but you might find it... well, just loud.

It does produce decent performance, though, and with the lack of aural strain that comes with every three-cylinder car in the business. There's quite enough urge to play hooligan at the lights with upstarts in their A4's and 3 Series. Although you won't, of course.

Then you hit a patch of poorly maintained main road with a coarse layer of surface dressing and the big car illusion recedes some more. The interior turns loud enough to make speech on the (DAB) radio hard to follow and the suspension turns tough and unforgiving.

Keep to town and these demerits will count for less, but there's no escaping the way this 108 is a cheaper car made dearer with some nice add-ons while the basics stay the same.

And that means you can have the same sense of playful verve (and 54.4mpg to the gallon on test) for less by heading down the 108 range, where £11,985 will get you a 1.2 Allure model with five-doors and £1,400 saving. It has manual air conditioning, space saver spare tyre and a reversing camera.

FAST FACTS

Peugeot 108 GT Line 1.2

Price: £13,385

Mechanical: 81bhp, 1,199cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed gearbox

Max Speed: 106mph

0-62mph: 10.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 65.7

Insurance Group: 12

C02 emissions: 99g/km

Bik rating: 16%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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