I love getting the keys to a new car. But I was more excited than normal to get behind the wheel of our new Peugeot 208, because it comes with impeccable credentials, having been named Best Supermini at our 2012 New Car Awards.
Yet in the few weeks since it joined our fleet, I’ve barely seen the 208. You see, my wife has also taken quite a shine to the latest addition to our driveway. She particularly loves the sleek and stylish looks – especially the eye-catching LED daytime running lights and ‘floating’ front grille.
She also adores the way it drives, particularly its light and direct steering, eager 1.2-litre petrol engine and smooth ride, which combine to make the 208 feel equally at home in the city as on the open road.
When I am allowed to drive, I can see why Mrs Fretwell is so fond of it. The seats are supportive and comfortable, while friends have commented on how impressive the interior is compared to previous Peugeots.
It’s modern and well built, there are plenty of upmarket materials and the doors close with a reassuring thud. The airy cabin is also packed with plenty of desirable options, including the Cielo panoramic glass roof, parking sensors and directional foglights. We’ve also added the £400 sat-nav option for the standard touchscreen control centre, while there are two USB inputs for your iPod as well as Bluetooth for hands-free phone calls. All these options have taken the price to a heady £15,690 – although the low running costs should help offset this extra outlay.
The three-cylinder engine emits only 104g/km of CO2, so costs just £20 a year to tax, plus it promises diesel-rivalling fuel economy of 62.8mpg, although we’re currently managing only 35mpg. I’m confident this figure will improve once the three-cylinder engine has been properly run in.
In the past, we’ve highlighted a potential issue with the positioning of the dials, pointing out that the chunky-rimmed steering wheel obscures the speedo. However, as I’m taller than the average driver, I have no such problems. I do wish there was more adjustment in the driving position, though. The steering wheel can be adjusted for reach and height, but I can’t raise it as high as I’d like. Also, the seat doesn’t go low enough, meaning I’m forced to have the panoramic roof’s retractable sunblind permanently open to give me a few extra millimetres of headroom.
Other than that, my only real bugbear is the tiny glovebox. As with all Peugeot and Citroen models, it also houses the car’s fusebox, which means there’s precious little space left for any storage. As a result, I have to rely on the rather narrow door pockets and deep centre console cubby to store my odds and ends.
This minor niggle aside, though, I’m enjoying my time with the car. It looks great, drives well and comes with enough big car gadgets and gizmos to make it feel a cut above the current supermini competition. Now all I need to do is figure out how to convince my wife to let me drive it!
“While I can’t say I’m a big fan of the 208’s flawed dashboard layout, I love the car’s eager and refined three-cylinder petrol engine.”
Owen Mildenhall, Senior road tester
“Peugeot really has done a fantastic job on the 208. It’s no wonder that it’s won so many road tests.”
Ruhban, via www.autoexpress.co.uk