Peugeot 208 (2012-2019) review
The Peugeot 208 is good looking, affordable and fun to drive, but can’t quite match the class leaders
The Peugeot 208 sits firmly in the mainstream of the ultra-competitive supermini class. It goes head-to-head with top sellers like the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo, but offers its own unique blend of style and customisation.
In its favour, it offers plenty of practicality for passengers and luggage, and has a pleasing-looking interior. It’s easy to drive, too, with some very strong engines (as long as you avoid entry-level models) and safe, secure handling. The most recent facelift brought improved levels of infotainment and safety to the 208, too.
However, the Peugeot 208 isn’t quite as mature or as much fun to drive as a Ford Fiesta. Overall, this is a good value, easy-to-live-with supermini choice, although the interior layout, with its awkward-to-see instrumentation, means we'd highly recommend you try before you buy.
The first generation Peugeot 208 has been for sale since 2012. Whether you're buying new or used, and whether it's a basic model or the rapid 208 GTi, it's a supermini that offers a premium feel when compared to rivals, although it does have its flaws.
Chief among these, and one that might be a deal-breaker if you're thinking of buying a 208, is the dashboard layout. It was the first Peugeot to use the iCockpit layout, which features the dials set high on the dashboard, so you look over the steering wheel rather than through it to see them.
In cars like the 3008, the iCockpit system is fine, as you can set a comfortable driving position and still see the dials. But in the 208, the small steering wheel has to be set low, otherwise the rim obscures the dials, and if you're tall, that can place the wheel in your lap, making for an awkward driving position. Some people won't have a problem, but others might, so it's well worth trying before you buy.
Get beyond that, and the 208 is a pretty reasonable supermini. There's decent space in the boot, and the interior has a premium feel that put the 208 at the front of the class when it was first launched. Rivals have caught up now, but the 208 still feels like a premium product.
Power comes from a range of punchy three and four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. We like the PureTech 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo, as it offers surprising punch and decent economy. Go for a 208 GTi and you get a 1.6 THP turbo petrol engine with plenty of power, but this hot supermini isn't the most agile in the class. Diesel power is also available, although we'd only really recommend it if you're doing lots of motorway miles.
The majority of 208s are five-door, although the 208 GTi was only sold as a three-door hatchback. And while the model range has changed over time, with Allure trim being offered as a high-spec variant for a long time, the line-up in 2019 comprised Active, Signature, Tech Edition and GT Line trims. Prices start from around £15,000, with the most expensive models closing in on £19,000.
All cars are decently equipped, with air-con, heated electric door mirrors, cruise control, touchscreen radio with DAB, USB and 12v sockets, six airbags and an alarm all included. Kit such as sat-nav, rear parking sensors and cameras, alloy wheels, auto lights and wipers and climate control all available further up the range.
As the 208 has been on sale for over seven years, it's not at the cutting edge of the supermini class. So while it was competitive at launch, it now gives second best to newer cars such as the VW Polo, Ford Fiesta, SEAT Ibiza and the 208's close relation, the Citroen C3. Elsewhere, cars like the Skoda Fabia, Hyundai i20, Kia Rio and Toyota Yaris offer reliable and dependable transportation, while the Mazda 2, Vauxhall Corsa and Renault Clio are all worth considering, too.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Peugeot 208 is good looking, affordable and fun to drive, but can’t quite match the class leaders
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe 208 boasts a range of peppy engines and is easy to drive, but other rivals are more fun on the road
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsThe Peugeot 208 makes good financial sense thanks to its range of frugal petrol and diesel engines
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe smart cabin in the 208 has a pleasant feel, and equipment is generous
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe 208 is supermini-sized on the outside, but space inside is generous for both passengers and luggage
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe 208 is tried and tested but needs to improve its reliability ranking. It scores highly for safety