Peugeot 208 review
The Peugeot 208 has eye-catching looks and is pleasant to drive, but rivals are more practical and offer better value
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 has some terrific small cars in its back catalogue, most notably the 205 which was a huge success across Europe in the 1980s and ‘90s. The company went off the boil a bit thereafter, and although it’s produced respectable numbers of subsequent cars, there’s been nothing that’s hit the spot in quite the same way. Part of the problem has been a lack of design flair, which Peugeot has done a lot to address in recent years.
The new focus on style really came to the fore in 2016 when Peugeot introduced the second-generation 3008 SUV, which effectively redefined its design language. Follow-up models have included the glamorous 508 fastback and the fashionable 2008 compact SUV, both of which have won plaudits for their style, upmarket feel and pleasant driving characteristics.
But it’s the supermini sector where Peugeot really had to get serious. It’s a core battleground for the French marque, and one of the toughest around with a range of excellent rivals that include the Ford Fiesta, VW Polo and resurgent Renault Clio. Peugeot knew it had a fight on its hands, and to its credit the latest 208 has the chops to take the fight to all of them.
Mixing with the best is one thing, but beating them is another, and it’s a big ask for Peugeot to return from the fight as a champion. 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, and in many respects it has succeeded.
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 offers five trim-levels for the 208 range - Active Premium, Allure, Allure Premium, GT and GT Premium. All are available with petrol or diesel engines, but picking the e-208 electric rules out the GT spec.
Active Premium equipment includes 16-inch alloys, air-conditioning, Bluetooth, a DAB radio, a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, plus LED headlamps and daytime running lights.
Allure gets you climate control, LED rear lights, some gloss black exterior detailing and upgraded upholstery fabric, while Allure Premium brings Peugeot’s 3D i-Cockpit configurable dash with a Head-Up Display, as well as a 180-degree reversing camera.
GT brings 17-inch alloy wheels, connected 3D Navigation, a 10-inch touchscreen and sporty styling details, with GT Premium adding keyless entry, adaptive cruise control, lane assist and heated seats.
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 Peugeot 208 has eye-catching looks and is pleasant to drive, but rivals are more practical and offer better value
- 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.