Peugeot 208 review
The Peugeot 208 is an affordable and stylish car but is beaten by major rivals for reliability and build quality.
Three-door versions of the Peugeot 208 come in five trim levels; Access, Access+, Allure, XY and GTi. Five-door owners miss out on the last two but Peugeot have made up for this by offering the classier Feline trim in the five-door range.
The Peugeot 208 FE Hybrid has also been revealed. Although the non plug-in hybrid isn’t in production, Auto Express road tested a concept and praised it for its impressive range of 148mpg, low carbon emissions (49g/km) and 0-62mph time of eight seconds.
Our choice: 208 1.2 VTi Active 5dr
Fans of the Peugeot SR1 concept will have been happy to see this car’s arrival. The Peugeot 208 clearly borrows the SR1’s bold nose and there’s even an optional SR1-style floating radiatior grill on the Allure spec.
The Peugeot 208’s interior quality isn’t that different from its premium brand rivals. Raised dash dials and chrome-ringed controls put the Peugeot 208’s cabin on par with Audi’s A1. Seven-inch touch screens on the centre console come standard on mid-range Active spec models too.
The GTi and XY models are much bolder. Chequerboard grille, twin exhausts, a roof spoiler, extended sills, wheel arches, figure hugging sport seats, LED daytime running lights and either 16 or 17-inch alloys contribute to their edgy designs.
The Peugeot 208 used chassis technology recycled from the 207, meaning it isn’t the most advanced car in its class.
Petrol powered models use the Peugeot 207’s flimsy-feeling five-speed manual and an absent sixth gear does create a racket on motorways. Thankfully, weight loss and improved handling makes the Peugeot 208 more agile than the clunky Peugeot 207.
Bumps do rattle through the cabin and limp, over-assisted steering means the Peugeot 208 is less lively than the Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio.
With 197bhp, firmer suspension and wider tracks, the GTi is the sportiest Peugeot 208, even if the Ford Fiesta ST trumps it for thrills. The Peugeot 205’s character is absent in the GTi, but it does have a turbocharged engine, loads of grip and an agile chassis.
Peugeot came second to last for reliability in Auto Express’ 2013 Driver Power Survey. The Peugeot 208 is nowhere as reliable as the Volkswagen Polo or Hyundai i20 as faults with touch screens and the engine’s electrics have been reported.
It did get five stars in the Euro NCAP crash test though, scoring 88 per cent for adult occupant protection. ESP, ABS, six airbags, seatbelt reminders and a Thatcham-approved Category 2 immobiliser are fitted on each model.
The Peugeot 208’s 285-litre boot is larger than the 207’s with the rear seats folded. There’s also more interior space thanks to the slimmer seats. Although the three-door’s rear seats offer as much room as the five-door’s, headroom is more limited.
A small steering wheel requires drivers to peer over the wheel when checking the speedometer and rev counters. This might make viewing the lower dash difficult for some, even with an adjusted steering wheel.
The Peugeot 208 is available with a range of efficient petrol and diesel engines.
Choose the tax-free 1.0 VTi petrol engine and get an economical 65mpg. Those after more power should choose 1.2 VTi, which does 62.7mpg and emits just 104g/km of CO2. The GTi is also surprisingly economical. It returns 47.9mpg and emits just 139g/km.
All the 208 diesels are road tax-free as they return more than 74mpg and emit less than 100g/km of CO2. The HDi versions promise low fuel consumption and emissions but have significant premiums over the efficient 1.2-litre three cylinder VTi petrol models.
Stop start and an EGC gearbox make the e-HDi diesel models the most efficient in the range, returning 81.3mpg and emitting 87g/km of CO2. Although the diesel engines offer great economy, they are best suited to high-mileage drivers.
Servicing, general maintenance and insurance costs should be very affordable – although if the Peugeot 208 is anything like the 206 and 207, bills can mount with age. Small Peugeots don't have a great reputation when it comes to longevity and some of the interior trim and electrics could wear down with more miles.