In-depth reviews

Peugeot 208 review - Engines, performance and drive

With petrol, diesel and all-electric versions, the 208 range offers great flexibility.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

3.9 out of 5

£16,310 to £33,505
  • Good-looking
  • Performance
  • Electric option
  • High list price
  • Tight rear space
  • Expensive optional kit

Peugeot has ensured that there’s plenty of clever new tech underpinning the 208. It’s every inch the modern supermini, and that’s because the car is based on Peugeot’s CMP platform, something it shares with the new Vauxhall Corsa following Peugeot/Citroen’s buyout of Opel/Vauxhall. 

The 208 and Corsa share engine technology, which is most definitely a good thing. The 1.2-litre three-pot PureTech unit is a gem, with very little low-down turbo lag. It has a real fizz to the way it spins up to the red line, and, unlike in the old 208, the motor doesn’t make itself heard too much. The eight-speed auto gearbox isn’t brilliant, changes are virtually silent, while the six-speed manual feels quite vague and rubbery.

Body control is a little better than with the Renault Clio, but the 208 feels slightly firmer, overall. Its damping set-up absorbs bumps well, remaining settled most of the time, and Peugeot has delivered in achieving just enough comfort on the motorway, as well as a little more handling agility on twistier roads. At low speeds around town it can get a bit jarring, but on the whole it’s soft and compliant. 

The new 208 is a definite leap on from its predecessor in terms of driving dynamics, but unlikely to really challenge the myriad qualities of the class-leading Ford Fiesta. At 1,090kg, it’s 88kg lighter than the equivalent Renault Clio, and has a little more capacity from it’s 1.2-litre engine. Along with the 208’s strong torque figures, this means it has the measure of its close rival on performance.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

Engine options include a 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol with either 75bhp, 99bhp or 128bhp, a 1.5-litre diesel with 99bhp and a 134bhp EV version. The full-electric e-208 offers a WLTP-tested range of 217 miles, and its packaging is all but identical to the equivalent petrol or diesel 208, thanks to that CMP platform. The electric motor sits under the bonnet, while the 50kWh battery pack lies under the rear seats. 

Predictably, the 1.2-litre 74bhp petrol is quite ponderous, taking 14.9 seconds to reach 62mph from rest. The better all-round option would be the 99bhp petrol variant, as it delivers a far more impressive sprint time of 9.9 seconds, with the six-speed manual box, and a maximum speed of 117mph.

The 1.2-litre PureTech petrol unit also comes as a 128bhp model, with eight-speed auto transmission, managing 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds and a top speed of 129mph. The 1.5 BlueHDi 99bhp diesel is only offered as a six-speed manual and sits somewhere in the middle in terms of performance, achieving 0-62mph in 10.2 seconds.

The e-208, with its 50kWh battery, has 134bhp, but more significantly can deliver all of its 260Nm of torque from standstill. Acceleration is noticeably more rapid, with Peugeot's all-electric city car making the dash to 62mph in 8.1 seconds.

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