Peugeot marks bicentenary in style with 107

NOT many companies survive to see their 200th birthday, but Peugeot has and who can blame the French manufacturer for wanting to celebrate?

The cars of today would have looked completely alien to people in the late 19th century, a time when people were still coming to terms with the steam locomotive, but it was then that the Peugeot family sowed the seeds of its dynasty by going into business producing a range of steel household goods.

Two centuries later and that move, plus all that has followed, is being commemorated by the thoroughly modern Peugeot 107 Millesim special edition.

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It's a higher-spec 107 citycar with a price set to attract a considerable amount of attention.

There's not a lot wrong with the 1.0-litre petrol unit used in the 107 Millesim and across the wider 107 range. Given a bootful, this engine will punt the 107 to 60mph in 14 seconds.

That doesn't look too dramatic on paper, but the 107's light weight ensures that pick up from rest is very good and you'll get the drop on much more powerful cars away from the lights.

You'll have to give the 68bhp three-cylinder engine a good whipping on the motorway, though.

A fairly narrow power band also means you'll need to keep on top of the gearchanges if the route gets a bit hilly.

Handling is very good.

Although the 107 is short and tall, you can push the car very hard and it never feels disconcertingly tippy. Yes, it does feel as if it's suffered a mortal blow if you hit a speed bump with some numbers on the clock, but you can't have everything. The front seats are reasonably good and ride quality is otherwise OK.

The steering feels a little rubbery at first but you'll be able to position the 107 with precision, helped by a throttle pedal that's easy to modulate.

It isn't all that easy to pick a 107 Millesim out from another 107 with 14-inch alloy wheels, body-coloured mirrors and black side rubbing strips, but look closely and the Millesim 200 badges are a giveaway. As with all 107s, the large headlights are mounted high up on the nose out of harm's way and above the Peugeot trademark monstrous air-intake that's dissected horizontally by a thick bumper. The interior of this special edition is more distinctive. The car is fitted with Code Blue seat trim and gains blue air-vent surrounds and a blue instrument binnacle.

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The design brief for the 107 was to engineer a compact car with a cheeky character that would appeal to young drivers, be versatile in use and, above all, be totally at ease in the urban environment. The length of the car wasn't to exceed 3.5 metres, yet a whole host of safety features needed to be included, as well as enough wheelbase to accommodate a five-door body style. The final execution exceeded initial requirements, breaking the tape at 3.43 metres long.

The dimensions of the 107 can really only be appreciated walking around the car. The three-door shape looks the most comfortable from a design perspective. The angled window line gives the car a cute wedge profile and the flared rear haunches really emphasise the wheel-at-each-corner design. The 107 features some neat design touches too. The glazed-in area surrounding the rear window is finished in black, giving it a very distinctive rump, especially when the car is painted in paler colours.

More than the aesthetic enhancements, the crux of the 107 Millesim is the equipment fitted and the price. Peugeot has taken the standard Urban model and added a series of additional features. These include air-conditioning and a rev counter, as well as the various visual improvements. The price is under 10,000 for both the three-door and five-door bodystyles. On top of the Millesim extras, the cars also receive the standard 107 features like remote central locking, a 50/50 split folding back seat, electric front windows, a CD stereo, four airbags and ABS brakes with CSC Cornering Stability Control.

Running a Peugeot 107 Millesim is about as financially painless as new car ownership gets. The economical three-cylinder petrol engine achieves a combined-cycle fuel consumption figure of 62.7mpg – an improvement of 2 per cent over the original version of this car. Emissions are also reduced in the latest version to just 106g/km.

Peugeot has always done a nice line in special edition versions of its most popular models and the 107 Millesim is another in that series. The basic recipe of extra equipment at a tempting price holds firm but because it's been concocted to celebrate Peugeot's 200th anniversary, the Millesim has a little something extra.

The 107 is a fine citycar and the Millesim edition is a fine way to acquire a well-specified version. The simple design works well, endowing the car with strong practicality and the driving experience is surprisingly enjoyable.