Peugeot 208: Car Review
A supermini with plenty of appeal
What’s it like?
The 1.2 feels peppy and enjoyable to drive.
What are its stand-out safety features?
ESP is available on every model except the basic Access.
Who should buy it and how much does it cost?
Anyone looking for a lighter, smaller version of the 207.
Our review: Good Motoring, Autumn 2012
Peugeot expects a lot from its new 208 supermini. Firstly, it has to step out of the shadow of the iconic 205. This is something its predecessors, the 206 and 207 never quite managed, and then the 208 has to regain significant sales to put the French firm back at the top of the sales charts.
While it may sound like Peugeot is setting its sights high, especially when it lists 26 rivals as key competitors to the 208, there is a real chance for this car. For starters, it’s lighter and shorter than the car it replaces, halting the trend for ever larger replacement models.
The 208 may be 7cm shorter overall than the 207, but it also manages to find 5cm more rear legroom. It also has a boot that’s 15-litres bigger (at 311 litres) with the seats up and offers a cabin with a more airy ambience than the 207’s.
Peugeot has also completely redesigned the dash for the 208, shifting the main instrument pod up above the line of the wheel. Combined with a smaller diameter steering wheel, Peugeot claims this offers a ‘head-up’ display that is quicker and easier to read than traditional dials sighted through the centre of the wheel.
In theory, this is a good idea, but the execution leaves many with an obscured view of the dials when they have found the ideal driving position. At least the large centrally mounted display screen is easy to read, even if its functionality is not as simple as many rivals’.
ESP is available on every model except the basic Access. A range-topping Feline model offers 17-inch alloy wheels, sports seats, half-leather upholstery and a panoramic glass sunroof, though we found this pinched rear headroom for adults. If the 208’s cabin is a mixture of positives and disappointments, so it is with the engine line-up. There are five petrol and three diesel engines to choose from, though the pick of the lot is the new 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol. It offers 82bhp for 0-62mph in 14 seconds, along with 62.8mpg average economy and 104g/km carbon dioxide emissions.
The 1.2 feels peppy and enjoyable to drive, remaining quiet and punchy at lower revs, while offering zesty performance and just the right engine note when pushed harder. Coupled to a five-speed manual gearbox, the 1.2 is flexible and a pleasure to use. It also manages to feel lighter on its feet than other 208 models, to smooth out bumpy roads better.
The other engines in the 208 line-up include a 1.0-litre petrol with 68bhp as the entry point, a 95bhp 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrols with 120- and 156bhp. Diesels are taken care of by a 68bhp 1.4, and 1.6s with 92- and 115bhp. The 1.4- and 92bhp 1.6 diesels can be ordered with five-speed manual or Peugeot EGC (electronic gear control) automated manual.
The EGC gearbox takes the manual 1.4 from 74.3mpg and 98g/km up to 83.1mpg and 87g/km. But these jumps come at the expense of the slow-witted reactions of the automated box, which takes too long swapping gears.
Aside from this, the 208 feels keen in corners and the small steering wheel gives decent feel. It also helps when manoeuvring in tight spots to give the 208 a lithesome feel in town. It’s just a pity too much thump from the suspension can be heard at all speeds, which undermines the refinement. If you choose carefully, it’s a car that can rival the best in this class. This means the 1.2-litre petrol engine in one of the more
affordable trim levels. Unfortunately for much of the 208 range, it still lives under the shadow cast by the legendary 205.
AT A GLANCE:
Price: from £11,345
Performance: 0-62mph in 14 seconds
Insurance: 8E (1-50)
Tax: Band B (£0)
Verdict : 7/10