Andrew Frankel
16 March 2012

What is it?

Three cylinder engines, so long an oddball configuration, seem soon to become the norm. Vauxhall, VW and Ford have them and we can now add Peugeot. And you’ll not need more than a minute in the Peugeot 208 1.2VTI to see why.

Here is a cracking little engine, as full of fizz at its redline as its four pot brethren are of protestation. It’s smooth, easy on the ear and capable of conferring performance quite beyond its apparently modest output.

What's it like?

And this is illusory only in part. Of course its infectious enthusiasm helps create the mere perception of speed, but its nature also means you’re egged on into actually using its power while the less smooth fours always tempt you to change up. But here’s the killer: the 1.2-litre three cylinder 208 is so much lighter than the 1.4-litre four, their power to weight ratios are a meaningless 3bhp/tonne apart. But while the 1.4 does 50.4mpg, the 1.2 does 62.7mpg.

Given the price advantage too, the case for three over four would already be unanswerable. But it doesn’t stop there: the three lightens the car by an astounding 95kg – almost 10 per cent of its entire weight - and every gramme of it off the front end. In a light car like this, the effect on handling is transformative. It has balance and poise unknown to other 208s, and steering of a different order.

Should I buy one?

Forget all the figures and instead hear this: for decades we’ve been searching for the small Peugeot hatch that’s actively fun to drive, like once they all were. And at last it’s here. It’s not a GTI and it doesn’t need to be. It is said that less is often more, but rarely more so than in the brave new world of the Peugeot 208.

Peugeot 208 1.2 VTi Active 5dr

Price: £11,600 approx; 0-62mph: 12.2sec; Top speed: 108mph; Economy: 62.7mpg; Co2: 104g/km; Kerbweight: 975kg; Engine type: front, transverse, 3cyls, 1199cc; Power: 82bhp at 6000rpm; Torque: 87lb ft at 2750rpm; Gearbox: 5-speed manual

Join the debate

Comments
11

Re: Peugeot 208 1.2 VTi

2 years 31 weeks ago

It's as much an indication of how poor the Peugeot's 1.4 is, as how good the 1.2 is. There are so many 4 cylinders willing to rev, it doesn't mean they all do though, same with three cylinder. I doubt Ford's 1.0 ecoboost creates such a substantial weight difference compared to the 1.6, as the 1.2 and 1.4 here.

Re: Peugeot 208 1.2 VTi

2 years 31 weeks ago

Interesting performance / economy from this non-turbo 3 pot. Imagine a small turbo bolted on - minimal extra weight but with 25% more power, now that could be modern GTi with - by modern standards - warm hatch figures.

Re: Peugeot 208 1.2 VTi

2 years 31 weeks ago

so far this looks to be the sweet spot in the range, and once stop start gets fitted it will fall well below the magic 100g/km too, which in a car the size of a 208 with petrol power is unheard of.

I too would like to see a bigger of turbo'd version of this new 3 pot, that would make the car truely amazing.

I would also like to see this engine find its way into the current 107 before it dies. That could be the power unit for the sporty version that car has been crying out for.

Re: Peugeot 208 1.2 VTi

2 years 31 weeks ago

This engine appears to be great, and the car it's in seems equally fantastic. I'm glad Peugeot has kept the weight down as well. I think this car will be best in its class.

Re: Peugeot 208 1.2 VTi

2 years 31 weeks ago

theonlydt wrote:
It's as much an indication of how poor the Peugeot's 1.4 is, as how good the 1.2 is. There are so many 4 cylinders willing to rev, it doesn't mean they all do though, same with three cylinder. I doubt Ford's 1.0 ecoboost creates such a substantial weight difference compared to the 1.6, as the 1.2 and 1.4 here.

Well the 1.4 was co developed with BMW, is carried over from the 207 and is used in the Mini, so it cant be that bad - can it?

What we should really be talking about is the weight saving, the 208 is apparently model for model approximately 100kg lighter than the 207, and now they have shaved off another 95kg with a new engine that sounds very good fun, if any other manufacturer had shaved off for the sake of argument 200kgs off a new model they would be shouting from the rooftops.

If they can save that off a supermini I wonder what they can do with the replacement for the 308. If this was BMW or Audi reducing weight by that amount it would be headline news.

Re: Peugeot 208 1.2 VTi

2 years 31 weeks ago

artill wrote:
so far this looks to be the sweet spot in the range
Agreed. It looks as if Peugeot could've turned a corner here. Although beige does it no favours.
artill wrote:
I would also like to see this engine find its way into the current 107 before it dies
As magical as that would be, I'm doubtful :( as an Aygo owner I can only imagine how fun it would be in said triplets! However, I suspect the 1.0 that is also available in the 208 will be offered in the next-gen triplets, so who knows... maybe this 1.2 will be, too!

"The creative adult is the child who survived."

Re: Peugeot 208 1.2 VTi

2 years 31 weeks ago

The 1.4 wasn't exactly the best engine around and this make the comparison easier for the new 1.2 3 cylinders. I experienced the 3 cylinders in the last Polo, my sister owns one. It's ok for the city but out town and in motorway it feels low powered. The extra bhp of this may be useful.

Re: Peugeot 208 1.2 VTi

2 years 31 weeks ago

turini wrote:
Interesting performance / economy from this non-turbo 3 pot. Imagine a small turbo bolted on - minimal extra weight but with 25% more power

As far as i'm aware, that will happen soon-ish. Probably with the launch of the new 308/1 next year, or maybe even with the 2008 later this year.

Having seen the car this week ( i had a drive near the place where the test drives are happening ) i have to say it looks better in real life. Less busy. But that greyish pink color is truly hideous.

Re: Peugeot 208 1.2 VTi

2 years 31 weeks ago

Autocar wrote:
Three cylinder engines, so long an oddball configuration, seem soon to become the norm. Vauxhall, VW and Ford have them and we can now add Peugeot.

Have we forgotten the 107?

Re: Peugeot 208 1.2 VTi

2 years 30 weeks ago

Nobby Hightinkle wrote:
Have we forgotten the 107

The fact that its a Daihatsu engine and not used in any other Peugeot is why its not mentioned.

This new Peugeot engine sounds impressive though compared to the 107's given the very simelar CO2 figures, yet superior performance in a much bigger car.

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