Peugeot 208 Review
The Peugeot 208 is a superb small car to look at inside and out, comes with generous levels of equipment and is brilliant in EV form. It is a little tight for adults in the back, though
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Striking looks
- Fantastic interior
- Superb EV model
What's not so good
- Rear legroom
- Bumpy with large wheels
- Fiddly infotainment screen
Peugeot 208: what would you like to read next?
Imagine the state of your family tree if each generation changed their surname – things would get mighty confusing, mighty quickly. In a similar way, Peugeot hasn’t had consistency in its small car naming over the years, offering everything from a 104 to a 207. However, that changes with the Peugeot 208.
This is its second generation, which gets an extensive redesign inside and out, as well as offering diesel, petrol and pure-electric versions – the first small car to do so. Those looks and all that choice, Peugeot hopes, will tempt you away from small cars such as the Volkswagen Polo, Seat Ibiza and Ford Fiesta. Oh, and there’s another reason you might be tempted: the 208 took home the carwow Little Legend Award for 2019.
The 208’s new sculpted bonnet, three-claw LED light designs, large chrome-flecked grille and prominent rear piano black trim give it an even more distinctive look than its predecessor, as well its alternatives. Inside, things have taken a step up too, with Peugeot’s now-familiar i-Cockpit dashboard design benefiting from a notable step up in quality.
A 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system lies at the centre of it all as standard, which includes DAB radio and Bluetooth, but more importantly Apple CarPlay and Android Auto too. An option (or standard on GT models) is a 10.0-inch version of the same system which also includes a built-in sat-nav. In both cases, the screen is high resolution and the menus fairly easy to navigate, although the small on-screen buttons can be hard to hit confidently while driving.
There’s no knocking Peugeot’s new 3D digital dials, though. Standard from Allure trim, they’re projected onto different layers to give a three-dimensional effect and look superb, but importantly also display key information clearly and are customisable so you can choose what you want to see.
Space is more of a mixed bag. Two adults will have no problems getting comfortable in the front seats and the driver gets loads of standard manual seat and wheel adjustment. Electric adjustment is optional if preferred. However, adults in the back seats will find their knees brushing the front seat backs even if their heads are clear of the ceiling. Ultimately a VW Polo is better at accommodating people in the back.
The Peugeot 208 is the first small car to offer petrol, diesel and electric options. If you have access to charging at home or work, the EV is a superb choice.
The 208 comes with the choice of three different 1.2-litre petrols, a 1.5 diesel or pure-electric version. Unless you’re doing huge mileage then ignore the diesel and head straight for the 100hp 1.2 petrol, which is punchy, yet smooth and will return more than 50mpg if driven carefully. If you have the budget and the charging, though, the pure-electric e-208 is even punchier around town and more relaxed thanks to its silent operation.
If you really value the way your small car makes you smile on a winding B-road then a Ford Fiesta is a better buy, but for most the way the 208 steers and changes direction eagerly will be more than enough. Less impressive is the way models with larger alloy wheels deals with bumps in town.
Nevertheless, the Peugeot 208 should be cemented on your to-buy list. It looks brilliant, its interior is one of the best of any small car, it’s keenly priced and the fact you get the option of a superb electric version mans it stands out against most small cars.
Make sure you check out our Peugeot 208 deal pages to get that keen price down even further.
The Peugeot 208’s interior not only looks superb, it is also well built from quality materials. Its infotainment system has all the kit you want, too, although it can be tricky to use.
Two adults will have no issues in the front, but space in the back is more limited. The 208’s boot is also average in size for the class.
At the end of the day, small cars are rarely seen with more than a couple of people onboard. Even so, bare in mind that a VW Polo will accommodate people and luggage better.
Space is a bit of a mixed bag. Two adults will have no problems getting comfortable in the front seats and the driver gets loads of standard manual seat and wheel adjustment. Leather, electric front seats can be added as an option to some models.
However, adults in the back seats will find their knees brushing the front seat backs even if their heads are clear of the ceiling. Trying to seat three across the rear seats will result in lots of shoulder-rubbing.
It’s a good idea to avoid the optional panoramic glass roof on GT Line and GT models if you’re going to be carrying rear passengers often, too, as it restricts rear headroom. All-told a VW Polo is better at accommodating people in the back.
There’s plenty of places to chuck your odds and sods in the Peugeot 208. The front door bins will easily accept a 1.5-litre bottle of water, the two cupholders are a good size and there’s a narrow but deep cubby beneath the front armrest. The glovebox is a little stingy, mind you.
Peugeot has also included a handy flip-down cubby which reveals the wireless charging plate on cars with it fitted. It doubles up as a ledge on which you can place of smartphone either in portrait or landscape, although given all models have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto anyway it’s unlikely you’ll use it to be better view what’s on the screen.
In the back, the door bins are smaller but still take a litre bottle. The nets on the backs of the front seats are pretty shallow, though, and there’s no option for a rear armrest or cupholders.
At 311 litres the Peugeot 208’s boot is average compared with its alternatives. To put it into context, it’s slightly larger than the boot in a Ford Fiesta, but around 10% smaller than the boots in the VW Polo and Seat Ibiza.
There’s quite a pronounced lip to lift your bags over, but the access is good via the opening and once your bags are inside inside the space on offer is a usefully square shape – albeit without any handy extras such as hooks, lashing points of 12v sockets.
The Peugeot 208 is the first small car to offer petrol, diesel and EV power. All are fitting engines, but the EV makes the lightest work of town driving.
It’s no surprise that the e-208 is the most expensive version, but it’s a shame, because it’s the nicest to drive in town. Its has punchy but silent performance – perfect for urban driving
Nobody can accuse Peugeot of being stingy with the 208’s engine range. There are petrol, diesel and even a pure-electric version to choose between.
The petrols are all 1.2-litres in size, all with a turbocharger and three cylinders, in 75, 100 and 130hp power outputs, while the single 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel comes with 100hp. The entry-level petrol comes with a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, the diesel and 100hp petrol get a six-speed as standard and the latter the option of an eight-speed automatic. The 130hp petrol gets the auto only.
The e-208 gets a 50kWh battery and electric motors to produce 138hp. It will travel around 211 miles on a single charge, and charging it up can take as little as 30 minutes to 80% via a rapid charger. Indeed, unlike alternatives such as the Renault Zoe, zippy 100kW rapid charging is possible as standard. However, via a normal home charger you can expect charging the e-208 to take eight hours from empty to full.
It’s the electric 208 that feels most at home in town with its punchy performance from a standstill and relaxing silent operation. If it fits in with your budget and day-to-day life, then it’s a brilliant pick. However, given its higher price and need for charging access most people are still better off going for the 100hp 1.2 petrol, which is agreeably smooth and quiet and will manage more than 50mpg if driven carefully.
Like most cars on sale, the secret to buying the most comfortable 208 is keeping its wheels as small as possible. For instance, the smaller-wheeled Allure model is more comfortable over bumps at low speeds than the sportier, larger-wheeled GT Line. Even then, the 208 isn’t as settled over bumps as a Fiesta or Polo, but it never frustrates.
The 208’s small steering wheel and light steering make it extremely easy to thread about urban streets. Visibility is good straight ahead, but to the sides and behind the 208’s swoopy styling makes for rather large blindspots. Still, rear parking sensors are standard and front sensors are standard from GT Line, at which point you get a rear parking camera too.
On winding country roads the 208 doesn’t feel as fun as Ford Fiesta. Its steering isn’t as communicative and it doesn’t contain its body in bends quite as well either, but there’s nothing alarmingly bad about the way it corners. It has high grip levels and enough steering accuracy to be confident in what you’re doing. Electric e-208s weigh around 300kg more than the standard models, but you don’t get an overwhelming sense of that when driving it.
The comfort over bumps improves the faster you go in all models, and the 208 stays nicely planted at speed on the motorway. Avoiding the larger alloy wheels means less road noise, too, and the only wind noise is a faint bit around the door mirrors at 70mph.