The Peugeot 208 rated fair to middling when it was launched three years ago. Has a facelift and a new petrol engine changed that?

What is it?

It’s the new, facelifted Peugeot 208, fitted for the first time with PSA's Puretech 110 three-cylinder engine, lifted straight from the Citroën C4 Cactus.

As well as the new engine option, the refreshed range benefits from a variety of styling upgrades including a new front bumper, a wider grille and revised 'lion claw' LED tail-lights. The 110 engine tried here, however, is only available in Allure spec upwards, which also brings new two-tone headlights - incorporating LED running lights - trim and spec upgrades, and a fresh alloy wheel design.

Peugeot has also added new personalisation pack options, each of which adds interior and exterior coloured accents including a 3D-effect grille, highlights to the door mirrors and front fog-light surrounds, and contrasting stitching inside the cabin. New paint finishes are also available, including bright Orange Power metallic and Lime Yellow.

At the top of the range there's also a new GT Line trim level - mirroring the 308 range - that comes with 17in wheels, sports seats with contrasting red stitching, and aluminium pedals.

We always said the previous 208 was good, rather than great, so has this new version moved it up the rankings?

What's it like?

Give it some beans and the Puretech 1.2 thrums away in typical three-cylinder fashion. With 108bhp it’s not exactly fast and it feels long-geared, but it will still get you off the line and up to 62mph in 9.6sec.

There’s also enough mid-range punch to haul you along comfortably while returning a decent 62.8mpg; CO2 emissions match the class best, too.

It’s a shame that Peugeot didn’t take this opportunity to refresh a few of the other things that let the old car down. The five-speed manual gearbox, for example, sticks with its long throw and loose gate, and it never feels satisfying to use.

The optional six-speed auto works reasonably well, however. The upshifts are smooth, although it can jerk a bit as it drops back into the lower gears around town.

The steering, as before, lacks feel, while the small wheel, combined with an eager rack, continues to make the car a little pointy. Meanwhile, the brakes are a touch over-assisted and grabby at low speeds.

Where the 208 excels is ride comfort - as long as you avoid the larger 17in wheels. The suspension rarely gets troubled, even by the most rotten roads, and could happily fool you into thinking you’re in something larger and grander than a supermini.

However, what you gain in compliance is lost in the car’s composure through bends. As before, when you start to hustle the 208 down a fast B-road there’s a fair degree of body roll.

It also pitches and dives on the brakes, or under acceleration, as the previous model did. It’s a decent handling car in the main, but if you’re looking for a fun drive, the Ford Fiesta still rules the roost.  

It’s a familiar theme in the cabin, too. Peugeot has stuck with its controversial i-Cockpit design, so some people will find it tricky to see all of the dials, depending on their height and driving position.

Back to top

Otherwise it’s good, with a broad spectrum of seat and wheel combinations to keep drivers of various sizes happy. The front seats are also comfortable and put you in a commanding position overlooking the stylish dashboard.

It remains a spacious cabin that will seat four adults as well as any supermini reasonably can (although models fitted with a panoramic roof have limited headroom) and the 285-litre boot is about average for the class. 

The standard 7.0in touchscreen includes software upgrades and new apps, plus a new Mirror Screen function which allows you to display your smartphone, with all its apps, on the infotainment system.

There are also new optional features, such as city brake assist, which helps prevent front-end collisions, and a rear-view parking camera, which should help avoid rear-end shunts. Parking assist is now also available for the first time on the 208 range.

Should I buy one?

The new three-pot Puretech engine is certainly likeable. It performs as well as rivals' equivalent units and is as economical and efficient. Unfortunately, the rest of the 208 package hasn’t improved enough to shake up the field.

It should still be on your list if space and refinement are important, but there are better alternatives if you want driver appeal. Ultimately this new 208 remains mid-table, rather than troubling the best in class.

2015 Peugeot 208 1.2 Puretech 110

Location Austria; On sale June; Price £15,495; Engine 3 cyls, 1199cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 108bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 151lb ft at 1500rpm; Gearbox 5-spd manual; Kerb weight 1060kg; Top speed 118mph; 0-62mph 9.6sec; Economy 62.8mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 103g/km, 15%


Join the debate

Add a comment…
jmd67 14 May 2015

The way the bonnet disappears into

The way the bonnet disappears into the grille looks like someone's top lip when they've popped their false teeth out. How hard can it be to style a decent looking car? Pugs are pig ugly these days...
michael knight 14 May 2015

"It should still be on your

"It should still be on your list if space and refinement are important, but there are better alternatives if you want driver appeal."
John can you elaborate on which in the class you're thinking of? I'm assuming Fiesta. But it would be helpful to not have to mind-read. I don't really love the 208, but the combo of economy, decent pace and the interior, is a good one. Shame it looks so ugly on the outside.
Dave Ryan 13 May 2015

Star rating gives it away...

"The Peugeot 208 rated fair to middling when it was launched three years ago. Has a facelift and a new petrol engine changed that?"

Well, judging from the 3 stars appearing right next to that question, I'd say the answer is no. Perhaps a rethink of the layout (or choice of taglines) is required, as it does make the rest of the article seem a tad redundant.