It’s been 20 years since the original Mini stopped production and it got me thinking about the replacements we’ve had for the Mini and small cars in general. It led me to a conclusion that the Peugeot 107 is the spiritual successor to the original Mini.
It’s a bold claim to make, but I stand by it. The Peugeot 107 is the best, spiritual successor to the original Mini. It’s also better than the Fiat 500 and Ford Ka which have come out since the end of the Mini’s production.
And it isn’t just the Peugeot 107 that shares the best small car mantle either. I’m including the Citroen C1 and Toyota Aygo as well. The three of them together build upon every single small car offering that came before them, and deliver something better than what the actual Mini’s replacement could ever dream of doing.
Is the Peugeot 107 the 21st Century Mini?
For the avoidance of doubt, when I speak about the Mini I’m referring to the small compact car designed by Sir Alec Issigonis for BMC in the 1950’s. The bloated expensive hatchback you might see driving around produced by BMW isn’t a Mini. It’s an outright lie.
It’s unfair though to compare a truly modern car to something designed and built when computers were people who dealt with numbers and motorways didn’t exist. But what you can compare is the impact they both had on society and they’re ability to get people moving.
The original Mini was relatively cheap to buy and run, which was just as well given the oil crisis it was released in to. It also allowed a family of 4 to travel in relative comfort with relatively good reliability. It popularised the transverse engine layout which we see in nearly all road cars today, as it allowed the designers to give the occupants more room without lengthening the car.
The Mini was a huge success, almost too much of a success, as successive owners struggled to come up with a replacement that took what the Mini did well and improved upon it. British Leyland tried with the Metro, and while it was relatively successful for British Leyland (and then Rover), it was never nearly as good as the Mini.
The Peugeot 107 is the proper successor to the Mini
As the years went by, regulations changed. These regulations demanded different things from manufacturers that really didn’t exist when the Mini was released. To underline this point, if you rolled your Mini in an accident there was a real chance that you’d be enveloped in an inferno as the fuel filler pipe protruded from the car and was easily broken off. Safety wasn’t really something to think about in the 1950’s. Which makes sense, given the atrocities society experienced in World War 2 just 10 years prior.
Since the Mini’s introduction, plenty of manufacturers have released their own small cars to compete with it. Fiat released the Fiat 500, and from that the Fiat 126. Ford brought out the Ford Fiesta as well. But by the 1980’s, these small cars started to grow in size to accommodate new rules for performance and safety. The Mini though remained largely unchanged. Probably more to do with penny pinching at British Leyland rather than the Mini being perfect.
Fast forward to 2002 and the world is a different place. The Mini is no more, some overweight trendy thing pretends to be a Mini but it’s more like a Rover 75 in drag. Toyota and PSA joined forces to release a citycar (or supermini) for the european market. From this B-Zero venture, the Peugeot 107, Citroen C1 and Toyota Aygo were released in 2005. It’s at this point that we manage to get a true modern successor to the original Mini.
The Peugeot 107 the best small car available today. This is why.
The Peugeot 107 – and by association, the new Peugeot 108, Citroen C1 and Toyota Aygo – are the very definition of the best small cars you can get today. Toyota and PSA managed to develop a platform that kept the overall size of the car small while not sacrificing it’s ability to hold 4 adults and (a bit) of their shopping.
In terms of dimensions, the Mini is about 30cm shorter than the Peugeot 107, 20cm narrower, and 15cm shorter in height. It seems a lot, but consider the crumple zones, side impact bars and other safety features mandated on the Peugeot 107, well it’s quite impressive!
The Diahatsu designed 1KR-FE 3 cylinder engine provides 66bhp and 67 lb ft of torque. That’s almost double what the Mini’s A-Series engine produces. Given that the Peugeot 107’s kerb weight is only 104kg heavier than the Mini, it gives the Peugeot 107 a true go-kart feel when driving.
Statistics only provide half of the picture though, and given that we’ve compared it to the old Mini, really it doesn’t do the Peugeot 107 any justice. What we need to do is look at how the Peugeot compares to it’s contemporaries and how it differs from the competition. For this, we’re going to compare it to the Volkswagen Up! and Ford Ka. Both of which are fairly popular cars in their own rights.
Peugeot 107 vs Ford Ka vs Fiat 500
All of the cars vary in what they offer. There is of course the badge snobbery that goes on. So the Peugeot 107 will be looked at by people who were burned by Peugeot with their recent offerings, including the Peugeot 3008 which is a truly hateful car. But, behind the badge and trim, this is essentially a Toyota. That brings with it Toyota’s reliability, which trumps most other manufacturers. Including Ford, Volkswagen and definitely Fiat!
The Fiat 500 has been dogged with unreliability issues since its release, and these issues haven’t really been addressed by Fiat in the car’s lifetime. It’s relied purely on it’s looks for it to sell. Although it’s surprising to remember that the designer of the Fiat 500, Roberto Giolito, also designed the Fiat Multipla. Yes, that thing.
The Ford Ka has been around for a number of years and in different iterations, and have been popular based on the blue oval rather more than what the Ka offers. Early ones have their problems, and those are the ones that haven’t dissolved to dust like all Fords tend to do. But, again, in a combination of marketing, the blue badge and dyed in the wool Ford lovers, the Ka hasn’t set the world alight either.
Both the Fiat 500 and Ford Ka aren’t basic cars. That’s one thing they do better than the Peugeot 107. This comes at a cost though, in terms of longer term reliability. The Peugeot 107 though is effectively a Toyota underneath, so has that reliability. It will go on forever, and is already outlasting its contemporaries that I mentioned above.
The Mini of the 21st Century
When the Mini was released it opened the doors to freedom like never before. It was more affordable than other cars released at the time. It was easier to live with, given its size and practicality. In post-war Britain, it allowed the masses to drive further than their local bus or tram would take them. It allowed them to build memories, which have lasted long after the car stopped production.
To me, the Peugeot 107 is the modern equivalent. Through finance deals, dirt cheap insurance, and even cheaper servicing costs and parts availability, the Peugeot 107 has allowed first time drivers or those struggling financially freedom. Even in the second hand market, the fact that the parts for these cars are so cheap it allows them to be kept on the road for longer. Not that they need parts replacing all the time of course, Toyota’s will outlive cockroaches in a nuclear winter. Believe me.
These small cars are plentiful on the roads today, just like the Mini’s before them. These cars are easy to maintain and service, just like the Mini’s were before them. They provide the same sprightly performance that feels like you’re going to the shops in a go-kart, just like the Mini’s before. These Peugeot’s, these Citroen’s, these Toyota’s, have the same cheeky looks as the Mini before them. These superminis provide freedom to many who wouldn’t really have had it, knowing they’re in something reliable and safe, like those who drove the Mini before them did.
The Peugeot 107 is the 21st century Mini, and is worthy of being considered the spiritual successor to the original Mini.