£12,365 - £19,265 Price range
50 - 94 MPG
Peugeot updated the 208 in the middle of 2015 with more personalisation options, slight styling changes and engine revisions. Then, at the start of 2016, the brand introduced an updated 1.6-litre diesel engine that is incredibly frugal.
The interior of the 208 looks much better than you’d expect from a reasonably priced supermini – it gives the class-leading Polo a run for its money. Passenger space is good in the front as well as in the back, but the boot lacks practicality.
The 208 drives like a small city car should: it’s fairly fun at lower speeds, but is also surprisingly capable at long-distance driving thanks to a comfy ride.
The diesels are frugal, but the new 1.2-litre PureTech petrol is the pick of the range. It combines perky performance with decent fuel economy if you’re not too heavy footed with the accelerator pedal.
Even the most basic version of the 208 gets air-conditioning and Bluetooth phone connectivity for hands-free phone calls or wireless music streaming. More expensive trim levels get creature comforts such as leather upholstered seats and automatic climate control.
Even basic 208s come with plenty of soft-touch plastics and, on higher trim levels, a leather-bound steering wheel. Compared to a Ford Fiesta, the 208 has a smarter dashboard with fewer buttons, but in terms of build quality they’re equally matched.
Although the infotainment system is bigger than the Ford Fiesta’s – and allows you to type postcodes directly into the sat-nav using the touchscreen rather than a separate controller – some of the primary controls can be difficult to adjust on the move. It also has quite a few sub-menus with fancy graphics that take their time to appear. All in all the infotainment system in the VW Polo remains the most intuitive to use.
Peugeot 208 passenger space
Following in the footsteps of its 207 predecessor, the 208 offers generous amounts of passenger space for a supermini. Those sitting in the front get height-adjustable seats on mid-range models and above, while three adults can fit in the rear bench, but only just.
The driving position in the 208 is a little awkward. The Peugeot’s dials are designed to sit above the car’s small steering wheel, but (depending on how high you prefer the wheel) it often has the opposite effect – sitting directly in front of the speedometer. Getting the right driving position can also be difficult – the lever adjustment for the backrest makes it hard to make incremental movements, so you seem to sit either bolt upright or a little too far back.
Peugeot 208 boot space and storage
The 285-litre boot is one of the largest you’ll find in this class and the opening is reasonably big. However, just like in the front of the cabin there are a few oversights, such as a high load lip, rear seats that don’t fold flat and a glovebox which is almost entirely devoted to housing the fuse box – you can’t even fit the car’s manual in there.
With smaller proportions and less weight to lug around than in the old model, we’re fans of the way the 208 drives. It’s a bit of a mixed bag though. The ride quality, as we’ve come to expect from French carmakers, is up with the class leaders in terms of comfort and soaking up bumps, but it can be a bit crashy at lower speeds. It settles down nicely on the motorway where the 208 feels secure, despite its small size. There’s little wind or road noise either – it’s all rather refined.
Small French cars have a reputation for being a hoot to drive on twisty B roads and the 208 fits the remit to a point. The small steering wheel makes for direct and accurate inputs while the capable chassis provides as much grip as you need. However, the same qualities are shared by the Ford Fiesta that has better steering making it still the enthusiast’s choice.
There’s an assortment of engines to choose, with the three-cylinder petrols and ultra-frugal diesels standing out.
Peugeot 208 petrol engines
Most critics reckon that out of all the engines to go for, the 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol is best. Not only is it one of the cheapest to specify, but it’s also relatively quick with a 0-62mph time of 9.6 seconds for the 109hp version. The running costs are also exceptionally low, with claimed fuel economy of 62mpg on the combined cycle and £20 annual road tax.
If performance is what you’re after then the 208 GTI comes with a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine with 197hp and a 0-62mph time of 6.5 seconds. It’s quick and, in the performance hatchback world of millisecond differences, it’s worth noting that a Vauxhall Corsa VXR with 202hp takes 0.2 seconds longer to reach 62mph from a standstill.
Peugeot 208 diesel engines
Since updates in 2016 the 75hp BlueHDi 1.6-litre engine now emits just 79g/km of CO2, meaning there’s no yearly tax bill, and it returns a claimed fuel economy of 94.2mpg – truly incredible efficiency.
The other diesels are also exempt from road tax, due to their sub-100g/km CO2 emissions. These are 100 and 120hp versions of the same 1.6-litre diesel. The 100hp model is claimed to get 83.1mpg, but testers struggled to match it. The more powerful 120hp version of the same 1.6-litre engine is eager to accelerate and also comes with a six-speed gearbox, whereas lesser models make do with a dated five-speed that is a bit clunky.
With just over 80hp to play with, the 1.2 VTi-equipped Peugeot 208 was never going to be a fast car. That said, all the critics agree that it feels noticeably faster than the 0-60mph time of 14 seconds suggests, and the tiny motor seems to love being worked hard, with a “fabulous” soundtrack as the revs encroach on the redline. However, under more sedate driving styles, this 208 variant appears to be very grown-up indeed – all the critics agree that it’s remarkably refined, especially for car that’s got a three-cylinder engine nestled under the bonnet, and the 1.2 VTi engine can also return some seriously impressive economy figures, with claims of 62mpg and emissions of 104g/km of CO2, which means the road tax bill is just £20.
Overall, if you’re in the market for a supermini with premium aspirations and are heavily leaning towards the Peugeot 208, we reckon you should heavily consider this engine. However, if the small power output is a bit too weedy for your liking or you’d prefer even lower running costs, you may want to look at the diesels in the range.
The description of the engine was fairly vague in this review, with most of the report being devoted to the gearbox on the test car, but the limited text does hint that it’s a decent engine. There’s plenty of shove in the middle of the power band – no doubt as a result of the turbocharger – and, with claims of 83mpg and 87g/km of CO2 for cars fitted with the five-speed ‘robotised manual’, it’s also incredibly efficient and cheap to run.
However, the critic reckons that the manual, despite returning ‘just’ 74mpg (though the 98g/km of CO2 emissions means that it’s also exempt from road tax), would be the nicer unit to use, purely on the basis that the paddleshift gearbox was jerky and clunky at times, whilst the manual ‘boxes in other 208s have received quite a bit of praise as of late.
All in all, if this 1.4 diesel engine ticks all the right boxes for you, then it’s definitely worth considering. However, based on what this report says, we recommend you steer clear of the semi-auto ‘box, as the added usability of the manual transmission is, from our standing at least, worth the slight compromise in efficiency.
There seems to be much to admire about this 1.6 diesel engine- not only is it smooth and refined for an oil burner in a supermini, but there’s decent poke across the rev range (despite the relatively narrow powerband), the stop/start system is amongst one of the best in the business and the extra bulk in the nose over 208s with smaller engines under the bonnet doesn’t seem to compromise the handling that much.
And, being a diesel, it’s also very efficient, with Peugeot claiming that even the least frugal 208 1.6 HDi model can return a claimed 74 mpg and, thanks to the 99g/km of CO2 emissions, it’s exempt from road tax, whilst cars that are fitted with the semi-automatic gearbox are ever cheaper to run still.
The only major criticism this car had was that, for buyers who don’t do mega miles in their superminis, the less expensive diesels and petrols may be the cheapest to run. However, if your annual mileage is very high and you’re interested in the Peugeot 208, then this top-of-the-range diesel may be worth having a closer look at.
The engine itself appears to be a very good one, with the tester being most impressed with the motor’s blend of performance and efficiency. Whilst the reviewer agreed that similar powertrains in other cars had slightly better mid-range thrust and economy figures, the 1.4 VTi-equipped 208 still felt remarkably brisk for something that doesn’t utilise forced induction, and the 10.9 second sprint to 60mph makes it quite quick for the class standard.
Running costs also aren’t exactly what you’d call shabby either, with Peugeot claiming it’ll return 48mpg, whilst the 118g/km of CO2 emissions means the road tax bill is just £30.
The major quibble the critic had with this spec of 208 was that it costs roughly the same amount of money as a similarly specified and marginally more ‘complete’ rivals. That said, the 1.4 VTi powered 208 is still a very capable all-rounder, and if you’re a buyer who priorities style and desirability over driving dynamics, we reckon you’d find this spec of Peugeot 208 to very enjoyable as a long-term ownership prospect.
The 208 was crash tested by Euro NCAP back in 2012 and scored top marks just like most of its direct rivals. However, the test criteria has become more demanding with each year and the Hyundai i20 that was evaluated recently could only manage four out of five stars.
The 208 has electronic stability control as standard across the range and includes brake force distribution, emergency brake assist, anti-skid, cornering brake control and a hill start assist, impressing the EuroNCAP panel. A driver-set speed limiter is also standard and all 208s have six airbags.
With decent equipment levels across the range the Peugeot 208 offers fairly good value for money – even the most basic cars in Access A/C trim come with electric windows, auxiliary input for your iPod and cruise control.
Peugeot 208 Active
However, if we were getting one we’d move one trim up to the Active, which adds the all-important infotainment system with DAB (digital) radio along with eye-catching LED daytime lights and practicality-boosting split-folding rear seats.
Peugeot 208 Allure
Allure models start turning the 208 into quite the luxurious supermini with rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights and rear parking sensors. The exterior also gets tasteful additions such as tinted rear windows and front fog lights with a cornering function that lights up the side of the road as you turn in.
Peugeot 208 GT Line
Top-spec GT Line cars transform the 208 quite a bit. Firstly, on the outside, you get striking 17-inch alloy wheels, a more upmarket front grille design, GT Line badges and a chrome exhaust tip. Inside the top-spec supermini gets body-hugging sports seats that do a good job of holding you in place, a leather-wrapped sports steering wheel and perforated aluminium pedals that are more for looks than function.
After the 206 and unloved 207, the Peugeot 208 offers impressive levels of space, decent handling, stylish looks, a good range of engines and surprising refinement for a car in this class.
Yes, it does have its drawbacks – mainly some interior inconveniences, but if you’re looking for a stylish supermini with cheap running costs then it’s definitely worth considering.