Peugeot's teensy-weensy city runaround

The 107 is, it goes without saying, a small car; as small as a Peugeot gets. It replaces the 106, but don’t be fooled by the bigger number into expecting expansion on all fronts. The 107 is still one teensy-weensy little city runaround.

It appears to partake of a design philosophy that wraps right around the car industry at present: namely, that a little car must, by default, appear to be a car for little people.

We are all familiar with the way that the unashamedly proud features of early, mass-produced cars—fins, hard crimps, sharp edges—have given way, in our softer times, to more apologetic folds and blobs.
But nowhere is this tendency more concentrated and infantilised than in today’s small cars which, almost without exception, appear to have been conceived in answer to questions such as, “What would happen if we drew inspiration from this particular sucked sweet and that particular doughnut? And what would happen if we simultaneously tried to capture some of the spirit inherent in that particular plate of Jammy Dodgers?’‘

It’s not the big, dish-shaped clock in the centre of the dash—My First Speedometer, as Fisher-Price would probably call it. It’s the fact that, sprouting from My First Speedo-meter at a jaunty angle, and riding high above the steering wheel, is My First Rev Counter—another dish-shaped clock, admittedly smaller, but with the same, large-print, “I Can Count To 10’’ nursery numerals. Which is all very well, if you want your car’s interior to look like a robot made out of alarm clocks, but aren’t we drivers, well, a bit old for that? Those of us who have left university, at any rate.

And get this: the dashboard is backlit in orange. At night, you appear to be driving around in a satsuma. Small wonder that, for a lot of my week in a 107, I found myself wearing the self-consciously abstract expression of an eight-year-old who finds himself accidentally aboard a toddler’s fairground ride.

Not that there are no grown-up aspects to the 107. Check out that fuel consumption, for one thing. The 107 is so frugal, you need never fear a fuel embargo again. Should you manage to empty the tank, the car will probably run on diluted fruit juice.

One should also note that it is possible to be a fully grown adult of some bulk and still be able to breathe while driving the car. Even the rear passenger -compartment, on the five-door -version I drove, is a suitable enough adult container for a short journey, as long as it is conducted on proper tarmac.

The 107’s hatchback, too, is surprisingly grown up. Alas, this provides access to a boot space that may be only marginally larger than the cheese compartment in the door of your fridge.

Folding the back seats flat slightly increases the cargo options—but then you don’t buy a 107 to go into business as an undertaker. You buy a 107 in order to fly relatively cheaply around towns and cities, and to be able to park in the kinds of spaces normally only available to cyclists.

The 107 comes as a three-door or a five-door and there is a 1,0 litre petrol version in manual or automatic.—Â

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