Volkswagen Polo vs Peugeot 208
The latest eco Volkswagen Polo is now petrol-powered, but is it a better fuel-sipping supermini than the diesel Peugeot 208?
With fuel prices staying surprisingly low, the diesel versus petrol debate continues to rumble on. In the past, buyers looking to save on their motoring bills would go for a diesel-powered model, but the latest generation of frugal unleaded cars is just as easy on your wallet.
One of the most recent petrol arrivals is the Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion. The first two generations of this car were diesel only, but this new model has switched allegiances. Under the bonnet is a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine that combines with weight-saving and aerodynamic tweaks to deliver CO2 emissions of just 94g/km and claimed 68.9mpg economy. Yet this efficiency doesn’t come at the expense of quality and everyday usability, because in every other regard, the BlueMotion is just as comfortable, refined and well equipped as the standard car.
However, if you want a supermini with headline-grabbing efficiency figures, the Peugeot 208 takes some beating. Fitted with the brand’s entry-level 1.6-litre HDi diesel, the recently facelifted model combines 90g/km CO2 emissions with claimed 80.7mpg economy. The neat style, bold interior and personalisation options only add to the 208’s appeal.
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Used car tests
So which of our fuel-sipping superminis makes more sense? Read on to find out.
Our contenders take different approaches under the bonnet. The Polo’s 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol uses direct injection and turbocharging to deliver 94bhp and emissions of just 94g/km.
Peugeot has actually made its entry-level diesel bigger, as this detuned version of its familiar 1.6-litre HDi engine replaces the old 1.4-litre unit.
Peugeot proves that you don’t have to sacrifice style to save fuel. Not only is there a greater choice of brighter colours than on the Volkswagen, you can also add a number of personalisation packs that bring bright trim inserts to the interior and exterior.
The Polo can’t be customised in the same way as the 208, but it can be fitted with more big-car features. Adaptive cruise control (£395), xenon headlamps (£795) and heated seats (£360) can all be added. These items aren’t even available on the Peugeot.
First place: Volkswagen Polo
The switch from diesel to petrol power has given the Polo BlueMotion a new lease of life. Smooth, responsive and frugal, the three-cylinder unit delivers money-saving efficiency with no compromises on the drive. Like all Polo models, the newcomer is also well built and boasts a cabin that’s a cut above when it comes to quality. The only cause for concern is the below-par residuals.
Second place: Peugeot 208
Recent changes have helped keep the stylish 208 in contention, while this entry-level diesel engine delivers enough performance and strong economy. However, the Peugeot isn’t as refined as the petrol Polo, plus it doesn’t feel as grown-up to drive. And while it looks good, the 208 can’t match the VW’s interior for premium appeal. And crucially, it costs more to run.
Other options for similar money...
New: Ford Fiesta 1.5 TDCi Style ECOnetic
Price: £15,795Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl, 94bhp
At this price point, you’re limited to a Fiesta Style, which misses out on alloys and a DAB radio. But sparkling handling and 82g/km CO2 emissions are a bonus. Haggling could get you a Zetec for the same price.
Used: Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI BlueMotion
Price: £15,490 Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 108bhp
Alternatively, you could stretch to a used VW Golf BlueMotion diesel, which claims 83.1mpg economy. It also offers superb refinement and a more spacious cabin. We found a 4,000-mile 2015 model for £15,490.
|VW Polo 1.0 TSI BlueMotion||Peugeot 208 1.6 BlueHDi 75|
|On-the-road price/total as tested||£15,605/£16,850||£15,395/£15,395|
|Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)||£6,008/38.5%||£6,620/43.0%|
|Annual tax liability std/higher rate||£404/£809||£491/£982|
|Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)||£1,145/£1,908||£978/£1,629|
|Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost||16/£480/A/£0||15/£363/A/£0|
|Servicing costs||£288 (2yrs/20k)||£12.99 p/m (3yrs/35k)|
|Engine||3cyl in-line/999cc||4cyl in-line/1,560cc|
|Peak power||94/5,000 bhp/rpm||74/3,500 bhp/rpm|
|Peak torque||160/1,500 Nm/rpm||230/1,750 Nm/rpm|
|Transmission||5-spd man/fwd||5-spd man/fwd|
|Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel||45 litres/foam||45 litres/foam|
|Boot capacity (seats up/down)||280/952 litres||285/1,076 litres|
|Turning circle/drag coefficient||10.6 metres/N/A||10.4 metres/N/A|
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery||3yrs (60,000)/1yr||3yrs (60,000)/1yr|
|Service intervals/UK dealers||Variable (1yr)/223||12,500 miles (1yr)/300|
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.||22nd/30th||10th/5th|
|NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars||90/86/41/71/5 (2009)||88/78/61/83/5 (2012)|
|0-60/30-70mph||9.6/10.1 secs||12.6/13.8 secs|
|30-50mph in 3rd/4th||4.9/7.1 secs||5.3/9.1 secs|
|50-70mph in 5th||11.4 secs||12.7 secs|
|Top speed/rpm at 70mph||119mph/2,500rpm||106mph/1,900rpm|
|Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph||59/43/63/69dB||68/45/63/69dB|
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range||49.2/10.8/487 miles||57.9/12.7/573 miles|
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket||133/94g/km/13%||131/90g/km/16%|
|Auto gearbox/stability/cruise control||No/yes/yes||No/yes/yes|
|Metallic paint/xenon lights/AEB*||£545/£795/£395||£495/no/£430|