Peugeot 208 review

Our Rating: 
3
3.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Peugeot 208 is an affordable and stylish car but is beaten by major rivals for reliability and build quality.

For: 
Good looking, lots of equipment, range of economical engines
Against: 
Not as fun to drive as a Fiesta, notchy manual gearbox, firm ride

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The Peugeot 208 is the Peugeot supermini tasked with continuing the success of the 205, 206 and 207. It offers a stylish alternative to the likes of the Volkswagen Polo, Renault Clio and Ford Fiesta.

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

Styling

4.2

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.

Driving

3.2

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. 

Reliability

3.4

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. 

• Best superminis to buy

Practicality

3.4

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. 

Running Costs

4.4

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.

Disqus - noscript

Was the choice of a 'naked' actor who looks like a young Keith Chegwin - ex TV prgramme 'Naked Jungle' deliberate for the advertisement?

The reviewers do not mention this, but all Peugeots feature a non adjustable ECO mode. This has nothing to do with fuel economy but is designed to prevent you accidently flattening your battery. Sounds good, but what it does is to cut off all but essential power after 30 minutes of using your radio with the engine switched off. It is a very frustrating facility.
The Peugeot claim of a sub 100 g/km CO2 figure with a combined economy figure of 65 mpg is questionable. You need to achieve 66 mpg for a petrol car or 74 mpg for a diesel to match the sub 100 g CO2 emissions claim.

How is the feature frustrating? the car is to be driven and not a lounge, who sits in their car for an hour just listening to music? It's an excellent feature or you'd prefer the option of a flat battery instead?

The weird (some might refer to it as "ground breaking" or "unique") driving position with a frisby for a steering wheel which, despite its puny size, manages to obscure the ridiculously high mounted (but because of the steering wheel) almost impossible to see instruments makes this car a total non-starter for anyone shorter than about 5ft10in. This rules out the vast majority of females who have always been the main market for this sort of pseudo designer shopping trolley. No doubt many who bought it to be the first with the new model are now regretting it and I wouldn't be surprised if some are no longer driving owing to the build up of speeding penalties as the result of not being able to see the speedometer. Maybe a bit OTT but I'm a bit annoyed since I'd have bought one otherwise but its' hopeless as a driving school car; maybe the fact that it won't attain the "learner car" image that damaged the Fiat 500s street cred as the result of a short and ill-fated affair with BSM will help the 208 in the street cred stakes but I don't see it being anywhere near as common place as its 206/7 predecessors.

I'm trying to find comprehensive user reviews of the Peugeot 208GTi. I've already test driven this Peugeot and Ford's Focus ST3 & Fiesta ST, Mazda MX5, Renault Clio, Seat Ibiza 1.4TSI (local Seat dealership inept in arranging a test of the Leon FR), Astra GTC, Toyota GT86, Audi TT, Peugeot RCZ. But I can't find any independent owner's review of the Peugeot 208GTi. Certainly, of all the cars I've tested, (with prospect of buying a new dealership model,) the Peugeot 208GTi seems to tick all the boxes: performance, driver comfort (the Peugeot pampers the driver far more than both Fords or any Seat), items included in base price, vehicle tax cost, mpg, service cost, fully comp. insurance cost, model availability and delivery... surely the GTi isn't young enough to have no reviews other than Peugeot's own website comments? Even the highlighted link wording "GTi version" ON THIS PAGE, links back to the top of THIS page: how crazy is that?!
I’ve watched and read the TopGear hothatch review of Peugeot Ford Renault. Please can anyone help with independent user review of the Peugeot 208GTi? Thanks.

I bought a 208 GTi in January mate, testing everything you did (except the SEAT, as they couldn't get the one I wanted) I chose the 208 because it's a fantastic all rounder, and although it's a brilliant day to day car, it's still respected in 'proper' driving circles (Evo magazine are pretty found of it for one) the fiesta is tempting, but you can see why it's 2 grand cheaper than the 208 - no standard leather, aging dash design and even on little things like no standard DAB radio or proper spare wheel. The fiesta is brilliant, but day to day I'd have (and did) choose the 208. It seems pricey next to the fiesta but next to the mini john cooper works hatch (same engine) spec for spec it's over 7 grand cheaper. It's great, but for something bigger in the same price range look at the Kia ProCeed gt, very similar in character to the 208 but slightly softer, bigger and bit slower. Either way, hope that helps mate

This is what I just posted on the GTi page: I was considering the Audi A1, the Mini, Fiesta, and Polo, but wasn't really convinced by any of them....I know they're very good, but I just didn't like them. Then I saw the Peugeot 208 GTi and instantly liked it. Took it for a test drive, liked it more, and bought it the next day. Have had it for a month now and like it more the more I drive it. Took it for a long ride on the highway yesterday...wonderful! The quality of the interior is great...better than the Audi and the current Mini, for me at least. And I think the body looks great, and it's nice that it's the only one I've seen on the roads. And of course it's amazing to drive. What I don't like: the red on the handles, the glossy back plastic (will look bad in a few years), the fact that the windows don't open remotely when it's hot (this is something I use all the time to cool off the car before getting in). The much-discussed issue of the steering wheel blocking the instrument panel is a non-issue...if you adjust the wheel to where it's supposed to be, there's no problem at all. I was concerned about Peugeot's reputation in terms of reliability, and in this regard went with my heart over my head...but supposedly they've worked hard to improve quality recently...we'll see!

Last updated: 30 Jan, 2014

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