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- Good looks
- Affordable to buy and run
- Surprisingly grown-up!
- Not the best supermini to drive
- Ride quality complaints
- Small steering wheel
However, more ‘complete’ rivals from Ford and Volkswagen do stop the new Pug from being crowned the king of the superminis.
Though this is undoubtedly one of the cheapest Peugeots on sale today, don’t go thinking the 208 has been left out of the French firm’s plans to become a more upmarket brand – cabin build quality has been substantially improved over the 207, with even the most basic cars coming with smatterings of soft-touch plastics and, on higher trim levels, even leather on the steering wheel. However, as with most cars in this class, there are a few cheap, brittle bits of trim to be found if you look for them.
Space inside has also been an area of improvement over its predecessor, despite the 208 being a far smaller car than the 207 – it’s no long-wheel base Rolls-Royce in here, but all but the tallest of people should feel comfortable whether they’re in the front or back seats, and the 285 litre boot is one of the largest you’ll find in this class.
However, there are a few practicality issues elsewhere, with the most prominent example being the glove box, which is almost entirely devoted to housing the fuse box. So much so, it’s nigh on impossible to fit the car’s manual in there!
With smaller proportions and - with claims of the 208 models being 110kg lighter than its equivalent in the 207 range – less weight to lug around, it’s not too surprising to hear that quite a few testers are fans of the way the dinky little Peugeot drives. Thanks to the aforementioned details, along with the sharp and precise steering, the 208 appears to be a delight to drive down twisty roads.
Under more ‘normal’ driving conditions, though, it’s still just as impressive - refinement is very good for the class standard, so it’s surprisingly capable as a long distance car. At slower speeds the 208 is also a good all-rounder, with decent visibility and the light easy to use controls make it a doddle in built-up areas, as you’d expect from a supermini.
There are a few problems, though – reports have been mixed with regards to the ride quality, with quite a few critics saying it’s a bit unsettled on rougher roads, and some testers thought it wasn’t quite as nice to drive as something like a Ford Fiesta. A few also weren’t fond of the small steering wheel, with some saying that, depending on your desired driving position, it blocks the main dials.
Most Peugeots nowadays come with a decently sized array of engines, and the 208 is no exception: there’s an assortment of petrols and diesels to choose from, all varying in their power outputs and respective efficiency.
Most critics reckon that out of all the engines to go for, the 1.2 three-cylinder petrol is best, not only is it one of the cheapest to specify and peppy when thrashed, but it’s also surprisingly refined for a three-pot in a car of this size, whilst the running costs are also exceptionally low, with claims of 62mpg on the combined cycle.
Also, as this motor is the lightest on offer in the 208 range, there’s less weight over the front axle, so the cars that are equipped with this power plant also have, by a small margin, the sharpest handling.
The other engines also seem to be quite impressive, with the larger motors in the range all offering more grunt than the tiny ‘triple’, and all the diesels are exempt from road tax, due to the sub-100g/km of CO2 emissions.
As far as transmissions go, almost all models come only with a manual transmission, which a majority of critics seem to be satisfied with. A few do come with a semi-automatic, which is more efficient than the manual equivalents. That said, most testers agree it’s not the nicest of units to use, and that most consumers will be better off sticking with the standard stick-shift.
Value for money
In most cases, the Peugeot 208 offers fairly good value for money. There’s decent equipment levels across the range, even the most basic cars come with electric windows, auxiliary input for your iPod and stability control as standard, and all the trims are competitively priced. The low running costs are also worth noting.
However, the top-spec cars are amongst the most expensive you’ll find in this class, and as such are right in the firing line of the best in the class. Residual values are also a wee bit of an uncertainty at this moment in time, though we expect it’ll have better resale values than the 207, due to the 208’s ‘superior desirability’.
If it’s outright performance you’re after, then you may want to hold out for the upcoming 208 GTi, which promises to re-establish Peugeot as a maker of sporty, fun-to-drive affordable performance cars. Peugeot hasn’t confirmed prices just yet, though it’s expected to go on sale sometime in the first quarter of next year.
As with most cars with a striking exterior design, the Peugeot 208 doesn’t work with every shade and hue of paint in the world, with most critics agreeing that metallic colours work best with the contours, curves and creases in the bodywork.
With such pressure to succeed with the new 208, the French firm has seemed to have pulled it off. With impressive levels of practicality, sharp handling, stylish looks, a good range of engines and surprising levels of refinement for a car in this class, the 208 certainly has quite a lot going for it.
There are a few areas where some of the car’s more competent all-rounders eke out a bit of a lead, but that doesn’t stop the very Peugeot 208 being one of the top cars in this class, and is certainly worth considering if you’re looking for a well-made and stylish supermini that’s good to drive and affordable to buy and run.
- Price range:
- £9,995 - £18,895
- 42 - 83
- Safety rating (NCAP):
- Date released:
- Replacement due:
- Not for a few years
- Model history:
- There haven't been any significant updates so far. The high-spec 208 Intuitive trim was launched in January 2013. It is based on the Allure and adds Park Assist, 16" Alloys, Sat-Nav and dual-zone air conditioning.
- Engine to go for:
- The 1.2 VTi comes well recommended
- Options to go for:
- Metallic paint makes the sharp styling stand out
- Engine naming:
- HDi engines are diesel, VTi are petrol
Great video review from carbuyer. They give us a tour of the interior, show how much room the boot is and give their overall verdict.
In this part interview, part review, CarThrottle take DJ Ironik for a spin in a 208
WhatCar readers get their hands on the 208 and let us know what they think. Useful to find out what real people think of the car!
Video from the NCAP crash tests, where the 208 scored an impressive 5 stars
Useful video from Peugeot showing some of the options available to personalise your 208