Peugeot 208 review
The new Peugeot 208 is great to look at and offers good performance, but can’t eclipse the best in the supermini class.
The new Peugeot 208 majors in great design. It brings a sense of style that provides a real feelgood factor, helping it stand out in the crowded supermini market. Building on recent success stories in the shape of the 3008 SUV and 508 Fastback, Peugeot faced high expectations for its new small car, and on many levels it succeeded.
But, supermini customers are a demanding bunch. While the 208 certainly looks stunning and rides well enough, it offers a compromised package due to its mediocre passenger and luggage space and expensive optional kit. You’ll certainly pay for those good looks, as the 208 has a high list price when compared to its competitors.
About the Peugeot 208
Peugeot is most certainly back on the charm offensive with the latest, all-new 208 supermini. With a history steeped in stylish small cars such as the popular 205 and best-selling 206, the somewhat odd looks of the 207, and other big grilled models of its era, represented something of an aberration for the brand. The original 208, launched in 2012, improved matters but more recently Peugeot has moved its design game on again.
Peugeot redefined its design language back in 2016 when it introduced the 2nd-generation 3008 SUV. Since then, the firm has unveiled the 508 Fastback and all-new 2008 compact crossover, models praised for their style, desirability and driver appeal. And yet recent products haven’t quite delivered as individual class-leaders.
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This is where it gets serious for Peugeot. The highly competitive supermini marketplace is core for the French company and yet it includes the all-round talents of the Ford Fiesta, the badge-appeal of the VW Polo and, not forgetting, the resurgent Renault Clio. If it was to beat these rivals, Peugeot could not afford to have the 208 under-deliver in any area.
So, Peugeot needed to ensure that comfort and refinement, decent driving dynamics, strong efficiency and plenty of technology were all present in the 208 if it truly wanted to shake up the supermini sector. How did it do?
The 208, along with the new Vauxhall Corsa, sits on PSA Group’s new CMP small car platform. The platform has been designed from the outset to offer different powertrain configurations, so that means the 208 can come with a petrol engine, a diesel engine or as a pure-electric vehicle. Options for the 208 run to a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged petrol with either 75bhp, 99bhp, or 128bhp, a 1.5-litre diesel with 99bhp or a 134bhp full-electric version.
Although the car is only available in a five-door bodystyle, Peugeot has introduced six trim-levels for the 208 range - Active, Active Premium, Allure, Allure Premium, GT Line and the stand-alone GT trim that is only offered with the e-208 electric model.
Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloys, air-conditioning, Bluetooth, a DAB radio, a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, while moving up to the Premium trims (for an extra £650) adds sat-nav. Rather strangely, navigation is an optional extra for the higher GT Line versions, which also feature front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera. It’s fair to say there’s a wealth of equipment on offer, but you’ll need to be prepared to pay for it.
With this in mind, it would only be wise to consider other rivals before committing to any purchase. The competition is fierce in this sector and as well as the cars we’ve already mentioned, the likes of the Skoda Fabia, Hyundai i20, Kia Rio and Toyota Yaris should not be discounted. The Mazda 2 and Citroen C3, meanwhile, also provide an individual take on what makes a great supermini and will probably be considered by the kind of buyer who’s attracted by the 208’s sharp looks.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe new Peugeot 208 is great to look at and offers good performance, but can’t eclipse the best in the supermini class.
- 2Engines, performance and driveWith petrol, diesel and all-electric versions, the 208 range offers great flexibility.
- 3MPG, CO2 and running costsThe Peugeot 208 is expensive to buy and insure, but offers a range of frugal engines.
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe 208 looks great and includes lots of new tech, but you’ll certainly pay for it.
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe design-led 208 offers a quirky driving position, but can’t compete on the basics of practicality.
- 6Reliability and safetyPeugeot customers rate improved quality and reliability, but the 208 misses out on a top safety rating.