Peugeot 208 (2012-2019) Review
The Peugeot 208 is a small city car that rivals the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Hyundai i20 – all of which are very accomplished and hard to fault.
What's not so good
Peugeot 208 (2012-2019): what would you like to read next?
The Peugeot 208 was updated 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 Peugeot 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 Peugeot 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 driving experience doesn't have the claws expected of the lion badge
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 Peugeot 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.
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.
If you want to see what sort of deals are available, go straight to our Peugeot 208 deals page.
The Peugeot 208 has plenty of space inside for passengers, but several alternatives have bigger boots and the driving position won’t suit everyone
The 208 is proof that being comfortable is about much more than just having enough room. If you're thinking of buying one, make sure that you can get a comfortable driving position first
Following in the footsteps of its 207 predecessor, the Peugeot 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 Peugeot 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.
Interior storage is let down by the Peugeot 208‘s piddly glovebox, which is large enough to take a wallet, but not much else – thanks to it also housing the fusebox. Storage spaces are pretty decent elsewhere, though, the door bins are large and there is a tray in the centre console to store your phone when it’s plugged into the stereo’s USB port.
The 285-litre boot used to be one of the largest in class, but newer models such as the Skoda Fabia (330 litres) and Hyundai i20 (326 litres) boast even bigger load bays. The Peugeot 208 load space could also be better thought out. It does without the flexible load floor you get in a Volkswagen Polo, so there’s a substantial load lip and the rear seats don’t fold away completely flat, so longer items can’t simply be slid in.
With smaller proportions and less weight to lug around than in the old model, we’re fans of the way the Peugeot 208 drives. It’s a bit of a mixed bag though.
The PureTech petrol is the cheapest model, but it is nippy and cheap to run
There’s an assortment of engines to choose when you buy a Peugeot 208, with the three-cylinder petrols and ultra-frugal diesels standing out.
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 buy, 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.
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.
Since updates in 2016 the 75hp BlueHDi 1.6-litre engine now emits just 79g/km of CO2 and it returns a claimed fuel economy of 94.2mpg – truly incredible efficiency.
The other diesels benefit from having 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.
The ride quality in the Peugeot 208, 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 Peugeot 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.
Even basic Peugeot 208 comes with plenty of soft-touch plastics and, on higher trim levels, a leather-bound steering wheel. Compared to a Ford Fiesta, the 208 is equally matched for build quality.