New Peugeot 208 Allure 2015 review

Facelifted Peugeot 208 aims to take on the MINI and DS 3 with new personalisation options

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Peugeot is treading a brave path by aiming its facelifted 208 at the likes of MINI and DS. The personalisation options aren’t as extensive, but they do inject new appeal into the strong-selling supermini. The three-cylinder turbo can’t transform it into a hot hatch, but offers enough to become our pick of the updated 208 range. That said, if rock-bottom running costs are key, it’s hard to ignore the new 79g/km BlueHDI diesel.

The 208 is Peugeot’s best selling car. It sold more than 32,000 units in the UK last year, and over a million of the superminis have rolled off the production line in France since 2012.

To sustain this success, Peugeot has injected some new life into its second smallest car – adding upgraded engines, better specs and new safety kit.

Like any mid-life facelift, the styling changes are subtle. All cars get a sharper front bumper, wider grille and newly-designed headlamps, as well as new colours, 3D ‘claw’ LED taillights and refreshed alloy wheel designs.

Peugeot wants to cash in on the lucrative personalisation market, too, so from June you’ll be able to spec a 208 with various option packs and special textured matte paint. The latter, Peugeot says, is “subtly granular to the touch”, yet “more hard-wearing and easier to care for than conventional matte paint.” It’ll be available in two shades of grey from launch, and costs £645.

Under the bonnet, Peugeot has added fuel-saving tech so that all engines are now Euro 6 compliant. Claimed to be the most economical production combustion engine in the world, the 74bhp 1.6-litre BlueHDi emits just 79g/km of CO2 and returns 94.2mpg. Elsewhere, Peugeot has also introduced a new three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine – it's the one fitted to our test car.

In fact, it’s exactly the same 108bhp unit as in the refreshed DS 3, albeit with a five-speed manual gearbox as opposed to the smooth EAT6 auto. It feels more responsive in the 208, and a quick glance at the performance figures confirms this. It’ll do 0-62mph in 9.6 seconds thanks to a healthy 205Nm of torque, which is quicker than the 99bhp Ford Fiesta EcoBoost (11.2 seconds) and the 113bhp Vauxhall Corsa EcoTEC (10.5 seconds).

What’s more, the tall gearing means despite having only five ratios, the 208 is suitably at home on the motorway. Unlike rivals that leave you longing for a sixth cog, the Peugeot will quietly sit at 70mph in fifth, returning admirable fuel economy in the process.

As a result you’ll find yourself driving around town in second where you’d normally use third – and on A and B roads at 50mph in fourth – but there’s more than enough grunt in reserve for overtaking, and plenty of power to surge away from the lights if needed. There’s the usual characteristic three-cylinder thrum under hard acceleration, but it sounds throaty rather than wheezy, and encourages you to rev it all the way to the red line.

However, don’t think the addition of a turbocharger has turned this 208 into a hot hatch. The steering still lacks feel, and while there’s plenty of grip the suspension does err on the soft side. That’s great if you spend most of your time in town – or even on the motorway – but if your commute includes challenging country roads then the Ford Fiesta remains the handling benchmark.

The basic Access gets air-con, Bluetooth, cruise control and six airbags but you’ll need step up to the Active for alloy wheels and DAB, while our high-spec Allure test car gets bigger rims, auto lights and wipers and rear parking sensors. The top-spec GT Line replaces the previous range-topping Feline and XY cars, adding sportier details and automatic climate control as standard. Safety-conscious buyers can add Active City Stop to all but the entry-level car for between £250 and £430 depending on trim, while sat-nav is a £400 option across the range. 

Practicality is unchanged from the outgoing model. This three-door may be more stylish, but the five-door is infinitely more practical if you ever carry rear seat passengers. The decent 285-litre boot is about par for the class, and there are plenty of storage areas dotted around the cabin. 

Interior quality is pretty good, too, and all but the basic trim gets a seven-inch touchscreen. It’s not a patch on VW’s latest Polo, but can easily compete with the Renault Clio and new Hyundai i20 thanks to the supportive seats and soft-touch dash materials.

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