Peugeot 208 review
The Peugeot 208 is affordable, stylish and good to drive but it's still beaten by the Ford Fiesta overall
The Peugeot 208 is the latest in a long line of supermini hits from the French brand, and follows in the wheel tracks of the 205,206 and 207. Stylish, well-equipped and cost effective to run, the Peugeot 208 is a stern rival for the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and Renault Clio.
The Peugeot 208 is available in three and five-door bodystyles, plus there’s a range of efficient petrol and diesel engines. The latest three-cylinder 1.0-litre and 1.2-litre VTi units debuted in the 208, while the 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre HDi diesel will be familiar to owners of other Peugeot models. Also available is a 1.6-litre THP turbo petrol, which can comes with an output of either 156bhp or 200bhp.
The Peugeot 208 is available in Access, Access+, Active, and Allure trim levels. All models get electric windows, cruise control and remote central locking, while Access+ models and above get air-conditioning. Go for the Active and you’ll benefit from a DAB radio, Bluetooth and a USB connection. Allure models go one stage further with dual zone climate control, a leather steering wheel and automatic operation of lights and wipers.
However, the available trim levels doesn’t end there, because the three and five-door models are available luxurious XT and Feline trim respectively. Both feature upmarket trim for the seats, a touchscreen sat-nav and panoramic glass roof. There are also the recently introduced Look and Roland Garros special edition models. Sitting at the top of the range is racy GTi hot hatch, which is available in standard and very well-equipped Prestige guises.
Whatever model you choose, you’ll get the same well-built and stylish interior, plus enough room to accommodate five adults at a squeeze. The Peugeot 208 also rivals the best in the class for boot space, plus there’s plenty of useful storage in the cabin.
The Peugeot 208 should also prove cheap to run. The stop-start equipped diesel emits just 87g/km and claims 83.1mpg at the pumps, while even the fire-breathing GTi will return nearly 50mpg with CO2 emissions of 139g/km.
Our choice: 208 1.2 VTi Allure 5dr
The Peugeot 208 still manages to stand out from the supermini crowd thanks to its daring styling and both three and five-door models get the same crisp lines and neat detailing, while alloy wheels and front foglights are standard across the range.
The Allure trim Peugeot 208 gets extra visual appeal courtesy of its bright LED daytime running lights, colour-coded door mirror housings, privacy glass for the rear windows and 16-inch alloy wheels. The Peugeot 208 GTi and XY models are much bolder, and come fitted with a 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, which contribute to their edgy designs.
Inside the Peugeot 208, it’s clear its designers have dared to be different with its dash layout - unfortunately the end result is a little hit and miss. While the touchscreen infotainment system and switches for the standard dual-zone climate control are handily placed and straightforward to use, some of our testers found that the high-set dials were obscured by the small, thick-rimmed steering wheel.
Happily, the interior quality of the Peugeot 208 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 the Audi A1, and seven-inch touch screens on the centre console come as standard on mid-range Active spec models upwards.
The Peugeot 208 is loosely based on the same underpinnings as the old 207, which means it’s a composed and capable performer on the road.
While it doesn’t feature the most sophisticated suspension set-up, the Peugeot 208 benefits from quick steering, strong grip and decent body control. The electrically assisted steering is a little lifeless and the standard stability control is too eager to cut in, but the Peugeot feels more agile than rivals such as the Renault Clio and Kia Rio.
Traditionally, Peugeot models have been famed for their soft and quiet ride – and overall the 208 does a good job of upholding this reputation. It feels a little firm at low speed and can crash into potholes, but once up to speed the Peugeot soaks up bigger lumps and bumps.
Petrol powered models use a line-up of three-cylinder engines. The entry-level 68bhp 1.0-litre VTi unit is smooth and keen to rev, but it feels a little sluggish in the 208, so most buyers will be better of the livelier 82bhp 1.2-litre VTi. There’s also a 120bhp 1.6-litre VTi that’s only available with an old-fashioned four-speed automatic gearbox, plus the luxurious XY can be specified with a powerful 156bhp 1.6-litre THP turbo.
Diesel fans can choose between the slightly strained and lethargic 70bhp 1.4-litre HDi and the more muscular 92bhp and 115bhp 1.6-litre HDi, which is fitted with the brand’s excellent stop-start system.
All versions get Peugeot’s slightly vague five-speed manual, while the 1.2-litre VTi can be fitted with the firm’s EGC automated manual gearbox – although this transmission is slow-witted, clunky and best avoided. A precise six-speed manual is reserved for the higher-powered 1.6-lire HDI and all 1.6-litre THP petrol models.
Sitting at the top of the range is the fiery 208 GTi hot hatch. With 197bhp, firmer suspension and a wider track, the GTi is the sportiest Peugeot 208. It can’t quire match the Ford Fiesta ST for thrills, but the refined GTi’s grown-up driving dynamics and muscular performance gives it the feel of a junior VW Golf GTI.
Peugeot has long struggled to shake off its reputation for flaky quality and poor reliability and while the 208 certainly feels more solidly built than its predecessor, some owners have reported electrical glitches, particularly with the infotainment system.
On the plus side, most of the mechanicals are tried and tested. While the 208’s durability will be a concern, its safety credentials are top-notch as all cars get six airbags, a speed limiter, stability control and five star Euro NCAP crash test rating.
The Peugeot 208’s 285-litre boot is smaller than those found on the Ford Fiesta and the Toyota Yaris. Plus, it’s hobbled by a high lip. However, boot space increases to 1,076-litres when the rear-seats are lowered.
Although the Peugeot 208 three-door’s rear seats offer as much room as the five-door’s, headroom is more limited. However, the cabin boasts plenty of useful storage, including a number of cup-holders, decent door bins and a deep cubby ahead of the gearlever. On the downside, the large fusebox takes up more than half of the glovebox’s storage capacity.
Rear seat occupants in the Peugeot 208 should enjoy similar amounts of head and legroom as they do in the Ford Fiesta, but you’ll struggle to fit three adults across the narrow rear bench.
On paper, the Peugeot 208 makes good financial sense thanks to its wide range of petrol and diesel engines.
Elsewhere, CO2 emissions of 99g/km mean you’ll pay nothing for your tax disc, plus it’s almost as cheap a company car choice as the hybrid Toyota Yaris. Better still, our experts predict the Peugeot 208 will retain 41.1 per cent of its value after three years – slightly more than the Ford Fiesta.
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 price premiums over the efficient 1.2-litre three cylinder VTi petrol models, so unless you plan to rack up in excess of 18,000 miles they’re best avoided.
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. Once again, though, this model is best suited to high mileage use.
Servicing, general maintenance and insurance costs should be very affordable. Peugeot even offers its Just Add Fuel finance schemes, which for a competitive monthly outlay cover all costs apart from what you put in the tank.