The Peugeot 208 has so much to live up to, thanks to Peugeot's successes with its 205 and 306.

With hits like that in its back catalogue, is it any wonder that its latest chart entries fail to scale the same giddy heights? Those heights aren’t necessarily defined by sales, but by lasting affection and identity. In other words, by what they mean to enthusiasts.

When was the last time that a Peugeot gave you ‘the drive of your life’, as one of the French car maker’s advertising tag lines once promised?

Our guess would be the late 1990s, when Peugeot seemingly handed Ford the right to make the most entertaining ‘normal’ cars in Europe and gave us instead the 1007, 206 and 307. The Peugeot 207, it’s fair to say, was even worse than the 206.

Recently, Peugeot has had better times. So here we are, with a replacement for the 207, on the back of some moderately entertaining, engaging family cars that show genuine promise.

The new 208 is based on an overhauled ‘PF1’ platform inherited from the old 207, so although the skin, cabin and many of the engines are all-new, the mechanicals aren’t. Suspension is by MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam at the rear, which remains the supermini class standard.

Peugeot is to be congratulated, however, for having taken more than 100kg of kerb weight out of the 207, which should contribute to the 208's efficiency, performance and handling.

If the 208 can recapture a little of the original spirit, this could be Peugeot’s best small car for a generation. We’ll see.

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