Peugeot 208 review
The Peugeot 208 offers stylish looks, a quality interior and low running costs to rival the Ford Fiesta
Traditionally, small Peugeots have done extremely well in the UK market, and following in the footsteps of the 205, 206 and 207, the Peugeot 208 doesn't disappoint. The 208 is a rival the Volkswagen Polo and the Ford Fiesta, but the latter of these has recently had a facelift, meaning it edges it slightly in terms of style and efficiency. But the Peugeot 208 is still a great, stylish alternative.
There's a wide range of trim levels available, with the three-door versions coming in Access, Access+, Allure, XY and GTi trims, while the five-door models miss out on XY and GTi, but get a posh Feline version, instead. All models come well-equipped with LED rear lights, electric front windows and six airbags.
The Peugeot 208 is more of a heavily revised 207 rather than an all-new car, so like the 207, the 208 is not the greatest car to drive in its class. The GTi version, with a power output of 197bhp, firmer suspension and wider tracks is a lot more fun to drive than the standard models, but still not as good as a Ford Fiesta ST, for example.
A Peugeot 208 FE Hybrid was revealed at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show. This super-efficient concept emits just 49g/km of CO2, but as yet there are no plans to see it through to production.
Our choice: 208 1.2 VTi Active 5dr
The Peugeot 208 really has a stand-out interior - it gets raised dashboard dials and chrome-ringed controls that wouldn't look completely out of place on an Audi. Mid-spec Active spec gets a seven-inch touchscreen on the centre console, too. It's a similar story on the outside, the 208 was largely influenced by the sporty SR1 concept car, and this can be clearly seen in the bold nose. There's even an option to get a striking SR1-style floating radiator grille on the Allure spec. Top spec models enjoy LED daytime running lights and 16 or 17-inch alloy wheels, while the Peugeot 208 GTi features a three-dimensional chequerboard grille, twin exhausts, a roof spoiler, extended sills, as well as wheel arches and figure-hugging sports seats. The luxurious XY offers the same styling upgrades as the 208 GTi, but with regular suspension settings and the standard range of lower-powered engines.
The Peugeot 208 comes with a range of efficient diesel and petrol engines and while the diesels offer the best economy, you shouldn’t automatically opt for one - especially if you don't do a lot of miles. While the HDi versions promise low fuel consumption and emissions, plus cheap road tax, they command a significant premium over the punchy and surprisingly efficient 1.2-litre three-cylinder VTi petrol models. Unfortunately, all the other petrols, like the 120bhp 1.6 VTi, get a wobbly five-speed manual carried over from the 207 and its lack of sixth gear means that it can be noisy on a motorway. There's a 155bhp turbo 1.6-litre, too, which is fast but also far too expensive. The 208 is leaner and more agile than the 207 it replaced, thanks to dramatic weight loss which helped improve the car's handling. On the downside, big bumps can send a crash through the cabin. Lifeless and over-assisted steering means that the 208 just doesn't feel as fun to drive as a Ford Fiesta or the new Renault Clio. The GTi model doesn't quite have the character of the iconic 205 GTi, but it does have a punchy turbocharged engine, bags of grip and an agile chassis.
Peugeot hasn't exactly got the best reputation for reliability, finishing second from bottom in Auto Express' 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction manufacturer ratings survey. It only avoided dropping off entirely because the poll was extended to 32 car manufacturers in 2013. The Peugeot 208 doesn't feature in the survey because it's too new, but expect the much-improved interior to go a long way in helping to make the 208 part of Peugeot's comeback. The Peugeot 208 did manage to achieve the full five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash test, with 88 per cent for adult occupant protection. ESP and ABS are fitted as standard across the range, as well as six airbags, seatbelt reminders for the driver and front passenger and a Thatcham-approved Category 2 immobiliser. As the 208 shares its underpinnings with the 207, it uses many parts that have already been tried and tested. However, it doesn't quite surpass the Volkswagen Polo or Hyundai i20 in terms of reliability, as some owners have already reported faults with the engine electrics and touchscreen of the 208.
The exterior dimensions of the 208 are smaller than those of the 207, on which it's based, but despite this, it actually offers more space on the inside thanks to redesigned, slimmer seats. The Peugeot 208 also has a bigger boot than its predecessor, now offering 285 litres of space with the folding rear seats in place - that's 15 litres more than what the 207 had to offer. Five-door versions are significantly more practical than the three-door model, as it's easier to get in and out of. Inside the three-door version, the rear seats offer as much space as the five-door, but headroom is limited, so it's worth remembering that the GTi model only comes with three doors. In the front of the cabin, a dramatic redesign has resulted in a lowered steering wheel, meaning drivers actually look over the wheel to view the speedometer and rev counter, not above it. Because of the new layout, some drivers will not be able to adjust the steering wheel enough to fully view the lower section of the dials.
All diesels in the range claim to return more than 74mpg and emit less than 100g/km of CO2, meaning all are exempt from road tax. The e-HDi diesel models fitted with stop-start and an EGC gearbox are the most efficient options in the 208 range, returning 81.3mpg and emitting a tax-free 87g/km of CO2. The 1.0 VTi petrol also claims to beat the taxman, and has an official fuel consumption figure of 65mpg. However, we'd opt for the 1.2 VTi, it's faster yet, and still manages 62.7mpg while only emitting 104g/km of CO2 - this means it falls in road tax band B, which is only £20 a year. Even the 197bhp GTi version returns a respectable 47.9mph and 139g/km of CO2. Servicing, general maintenance and insurance costs should be very affordable indeed – although if the 208 is anything like the 206 and 207, you can expect the bills to mount up with age. Small Peugeots don't have a great reputation when it comes to longevity, and some of the interior trim and electrics could prove suspect once the miles start to add up.