Peugeot 208: Second report

4 Feb, 2013 10:15am Jamie Fretwell

Our Peugeot 208 has been beset by niggles. Can we wash them away?

To make any relationship work, you have to put the time in. So I’ve got out my bucket and sponge in a bid to reignite the spark with our Peugeot 208.

Our honeymoon period was wonderful. The showroom-fresh metallic paint looked brilliant, the 208’s light steering was great around town and the three-cylinder engine sounded fantastic. Then the car broke down.

I was driving along the motorway when a light on the dash warned me of an engine temperature fault, and the engine cut out. After a quick call to Peugeot Assistance, an AA van came out to me, and 90 minutes later a mechanic diagnosed a loose coolant pipe. It was simple to fix, but as the car had only done 2,000 miles, it put a strain on our relationship.

Barely a week later, we were back in the garage. I’d been told that a technical service bulletin had been put out on our car to check some bolt fixings. It wasn’t serious – less than 300 UK vehicles were affected – and Palmers Peugeot in Hemel Hempstead, Herts, did the work for free in two hours. But it reinforced a stereotype about French cars’ reliability, and I started to think the 208 would emulate my old Renault Clio, which regularly went wrong.

The more time I’ve spent in the Peugeot, the more minor niggles I’ve noticed. On one occasion, while driving along a main road, the sat-nav went blank and displayed the message ‘GPS fault’. It rectified itself soon after, and this hasn’t happened since, but drivers posting on the forum have reported similar problems.

Another annoyance is that the sat-nav doesn’t have a postcode input – you need the full address of your destination. This isn’t always possible, so I’m forced to switch to my smartphone’s sat-nav app instead.

Fuel economy hasn’t impressed me much, either. It’s rising steadily – I now average 36.9mpg compared to 35.6mpg in November – but that’s still a long way off the claimed 62.8mpg figure. We’d hoped for better now there’s more than 4,000 miles on the clock.

I’ve mentioned before that the glovebox is tiny, as Peugeot didn’t move the fuse box in the switch from left to right-hand drive, but I’ve since noticed another cost-cutting measure. As the bonnet release is in the passenger footwell, you have to walk round the car if you want to access the engine bay. Again, it’s only a minor niggle, but at this time of year, you’re doing it more often to fill up the screenwash reservoir. Finally, the windscreen wipers are coming up frustratingly short, leaving dirty patches as they sweep across the screen.

All of this has left me disheartened about life with our supermini. Peugeot’s slogan is Motion & Emotion – I only hope a clean, and some quality time at the wheel, can change my emotions from frustration to happiness.

Our view

“Our 208’s £400 optional glass roof is great. Yes, it’s pricey, but this big-car touch brightens the cabin no end.”
Tom Phillips, Web reporter

Your view

“My 1.4-litre Honda Jazz makes the 208’s fuel economy look really bad. My car averages 48mpg, and has done since new.”
Alan, via

Disqus - noscript

The previous generation Fiesta also had the bonnet release in the passenger footwell.

Not the end of the world to open the passenger door, especially as you need to get out of the car in the first place.

I wonder if this was a review for a Polo, or a new bmw MINI (speak about LHD to RHD - the clubman has it's rear passenger door facing into RHD traffic!), would these 'niggles' - a hose coming loose, a preventative service item, a third party sat nav that once loses satellites and has a suboptimal input criteria - be glossed over to focus on the handling, or AEs obsession for german hard plastic interiors?

It's almost as if AE *wants* anything negative that they can write about French cars, so as to appease their bmw/vag advertiser paymasters.

Agree with all of this. I would add my normal plea for fewer illusions about "rule cheat" three cylinder engines whose real world economy is light years poorer than the supposed one.

Guys it's FRENCH!!! of course the build quality will be like lego! Accept it LOL.

Here we go again with the received opinions! The only vehicle which I know for certain actually went "bang" just out of the showroom was certainly not French. Wouldn't you like to know what it was!
Oh and I had one car of my own which developed the first of many faults just as I drove away from the dealers. That was an Austin Metro and buying it was the last time I listened to received opinions about motor cars.

The point about the fuzebox and the bonnet release are relevant, because its the same on the 207, so they haven't learned or bothered, so until we in the UK do complain in numbers nothing will change.

Paul, you are so right to mention this. Other magazines are running long-term tests with these 3-cylinder cars and finding astonishingly poor fuel economy.

That's a darn shame! I mean Autoexpress reducing this car's rating to 2 stars only. Just last year this was their Best Supermini ahead of Audi A1 and Ford Fiesta. Very poor judgement on the part of "Britain's Biggest Selling Weekly Car Mag"

Would the bonnet release on the passenger side not be a benefit?, being able to pop the bonnet at the side of the road while (slightly) away from traffic passing by. As for the coolant hose looks like someone forgot to tighten the clip at the factory, although it would be prutend to check fluid's regularly and the drop in coolant level would have been noticed and no breakdown.

I'd would be worried about the fuel economy as my 2.0L fiesta ST gives 36mpg when driving very smoothly,30mpg the rest of the time :D

I was under the impression that reliability and build on French cars was better these days.

My daughter has one of these, apart from the mentioned recall (45min not two hours) it's been perfect.
she's averaged over 50mpg from day one, now after 6k she's getting 53, and she doesn't drive a gently as I'd like!

What is really annoying about the bonnet release catch is that the door has to be open to give it room to be released. So if your car is in a single garage, there is no room to open the door and thus, you can not open the bonnet. So much for checking your car
before a long journey.

The poor coverage of the wipers is another fault carried over from the 207

Why does Peugeot not learn from earlier mistakes? French arrogance and a total lack of interest in customer fedback is my conclusion.

Why is the car industry so infatuated with 3 cylinder engines? The originators, Suzuki, had a good reason, the small size of the engine made it fit better in their small car. The only benefits I can think of are cost (fewer moving parts), lighter and requiring
less energy to turn themeselves over. This should give a small economy benefit compared to 4 cylinders. However, with the 208 and
Ford's versions, reported economy figures are truly awful. I think I will stick with the 65mpg I get from my old 207 SW with an antiquated 1.6 4 cylinder diesel engine and no stop-start.

About time AE flagged up the HUGE disparity between 'claimed' and 'actual' MPG with these petrol cars.

35 mpg is very very poor for an 82hp runaround like this

Are the wipers the right way round for RHD. I remember they weren't a few years ago. As for reliability, It's Eurojunk. PSA at that. What do you expect?

I fully agree with Fadyady previous comments. Auto
Express judgment does not seem to be very objective.
Tom Phillips may have had some unpleasant or disapointing experience but we need to remember that in the German ADAC extensive breakdown statistics the 207 came in 2nd place in 2011 (7th place in 2012) well above the VW Polo, Opel Corsa, Toyota Yaris, to give a few exemple. It is a bit too early to provide statistics on the 208 but given my personal experience (504, 206, 406 coupe) I am confident that the 208 will prove to be a reliable product. It certainly has been praised in numerous publications and tests so far.

I dunno, my 2002 3-cyl 1.2 Polo gets about 45mpg average and the official is 47. Obviously that's well past being run in, and on the motorway that drops like a stone (more like high 30s) but for town and A/B roads it's pretty good.
Still wish I'd got a diesel one though.

I understand that you are annoyed, but you don't have to be rude talking about "french arrogance". Don't have to spread some stereotypes like this.

That's stupid, look at the latest reliability surveys and you will see that you are wrong.

The 1007 was actually full of problems, Peugeot admitted that, however some other models are quite good now, look at the reliability index.

Key specs

  • On fleet since: November 2012
  • Price new: £13,895
  • Engine: 1.2-litre 3cyl, 82bhp
  • CO2/Tax: 104g/km/£20
  • Options include: Panoramic roof (£400), sat-nav (£400), metallic paint (£495), Electric pack (£160)
  • Trade-in now: N/A
  • Insurance group/quote: 8E/£232
  • Mileage/mpg: 4,197/36.8mpg
  • Costs: £280.80 (winter tyres)
  • Any problems?: Coolant leak, one-off sat-nav fault, service bulletin