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 continues the French firm's long tradition of making supermini sales hits such as 205, 206 and 207. It offers a stylish alternative to the likes of the Volkswagen Polo, Renault Clio and Ford Fiesta, but has recently been overtaken by the facelifted Ford in the fight for class honours.
Three-door versions of the Peugeot 208 come in five trim levels; Access, Access+, Active, XY and GTi. Owners of the five-door Peugeot 208 miss out on the XY and GTi models, but Peugeot has made up for this by offering the classier Feline trim in the five-door range. Buyers can also spec their Peugeot 208 with the luxury Allure package for around £1,400
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
Peugeot 208 still manages to stand out from the supermini crowd thanks to it 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 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.
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.
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. It’s the cheaper than a Ford Fiesta and a Toyota by £1,000 and £800 respectively and is very well equipped thanks to plenty of big-car features, such as dual-zone climate control.
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. 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.
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.