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.
There’s an assortment of engines to choose, 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.
The PureTech petrol is the cheapest model, but it is nippy and cheap to run
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, 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.