From £11,349
Refined and desirable, the 208 makes a big improvement for Peugeot, if not for the class

Our Verdict

Peugeot 208

Peugeot has shown dynamic promise of late. Will the Peugeot 208 be a hit?

What is it?

Peugeot’s vital new 208 supermini, which has now officially touched down in the UK. A full road test workout beckons, for the car on which so much of the Peugeot brand's success depends. For a first impression though, in right-hand-drive form and on British roads, we tested a 1.6-litre, 91bhp e-HDi – which is likely to be a popular version for us Brits.

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.

What's it like?

European drives of the 208 have suggested that the biggest gains relative to the 207 have been made on desirability, quality and driving dynamics. The car is certainly a much more attractive prospect than both the 207 and 206. On this evidence, though, all those dynamic comparisons with the excellent 205, and suggestions that Peugeot has created a class-leading hatchback here, may both have been premature.

Our ‘Allure’ spec test car looked handsome, and does justice to Peugeot’s status as a maker of mature and sophisticated European cars much better than the 207 ever did. Loaded with satin-finished brightwork inside and out and, for the most part, well finished, the 208 is a car you could really want.

But on close inspection, it doesn’t match the material quality standards of the best superminis on the block. You won’t find hard, rough cabin plastics like those on the Peugeot’s interior door cards, around its steering column and at the foot of its centre console in the likes of the VW Polo or Honda Jazz. Still, if you can forgive that much, the car’s cabin is very pleasant. Its instruments, aligned to be viewed over the top of the steering wheel, didn’t cause a problem for this tester.

During typical town motoring, there’s a similar story to tell:  the 208 is good, but not without fault. High, upright pedals, a baggy gearshift and a slightly troublesome clutch don’t instantly make driving the car a pleasure, while a power steering setup that can feel sticky at the straight ahead, and overly elastic off centre, doesn’t at first inspire much fun.

But handling is taut, grip is well balanced, and our test car’s engine was at once punchy, refined and economical, returning better than 55mpg in urban use. The 208’s ride lacks the absorbency to deal with medium-sized bumps in the road with as much class as the very best compact hatchbacks, but its ride is generally quiet and liveable, and its handling more involving than some.

Should I buy one?

Without radically changing the class order, the 208 consolidates Peugeot’s position amongst the makers of the best superminis. It’s a car to have on your shortlist; for us, it would be hard to choose over a Fiesta, Polo or Jazz. But if you don't mind taking style over substance in some respects, it might be right up your street.

Peugeot 208 1.6 e-HDi Allure

Price: £17,845; 0-62mph: 12.2sec; Top speed: 115mph; Economy: 74.3mpg; CO2: 99g/km; Kerbweight: 1090kg; Engine type, cc: 4 cyls, 1560cc, turbodiesel; Power: 91bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 170lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox: 5spd manual

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Comments
15

13 June 2012

Taking Style over substance? - Thats a loaded point.

So its cheaper than a Polo, more substantial than a Fiesta. It sounds as if they might have positioned it in a decent middleground.

Its a shame they have continued with the cheap suspension of the 207, but none of the competition offer IRS i guess thats to be expected, its just that when peugeots small cars were the best they didnt have a dead beam axel at the back.

The best version is never going to be a car with a heavy diesel in its nose, so i look forward to a test of the 1.2 petrol which i suspect is a much better drive.

In France the Allure model has the option of dark tinted rear windows. For some reason Peugeot has decided to inflict these on the UK market, no choice for us. This trend cant come to an end soon enough for me. 

13 June 2012

It is a similar suspension to Peugeot 207 but modified, if that is, you meant the rear suspension. I believe they have registered some patent for it- I don't recall what the modification aims to achieve, probably better cornering grip.

seb

13 June 2012

I would wait for the new Renault Clio, trust me!

13 June 2012

Indeed ... WHAT IS IT??

Gone are the days of the achingly pure and beautiful Peugeot (Pininfarina's 406 Coupe being the pinnacle) ... Everything went pear-shaped with the introduction, in 2006, of the hideous 207 and the even worse 308 a year later with nose jobs that looked like a clown's mouth without the grease paint ... Now we have this abomination ...

WHAT IS IT LIKE?? ... "rough cabin plastics", "high, upright pedals, a baggy gearshift and a slightly troublesome clutch", "ride lacks the absorbency to deal with medium-sized bumps in the road" ... Hmm ... Sounds like heaps of fun ...

SHOULD I BUY ONE? ... For £17,865? ... As the French would say ... NON!

 

13 June 2012

Quote:

 Its instruments, aligned to be viewed over the top of the steering wheel, didn’t cause a problem for this tester

How tall is the tester? I suspect 6 foot or more. I think this will be a real issue for shorter people, like myself.

22 August 2012

superstevie wrote:

Quote:

 Its instruments, aligned to be viewed over the top of the steering wheel, didn’t cause a problem for this tester

How tall is the tester? I suspect 6 foot or more. I think this will be a real issue for shorter people, like myself.

I have once sat in a 208 next to a woman who was less than 5 foot tall.

-Surprisingly, she had absolutely NO problem seeing ALL the instruments (in fact, even below it!).

I am 6 foot tall and the 208 driving position suited me perfectly. So I presume most drivers of different sizes should be able to see the IP.....

 

13 June 2012

It does not seem like much of a move forward going by this road test.The old 207 platform,which was indeed inherited from the 206 i believe,has not helped imo.

14 June 2012

Used to have a 205 that combined good ride and handling . Still dont think Peugeot has produced anything as good since . Who on earth signed off that instrument binnacle . Smacks of trying to be different for difference sake even though the design does not work . 

Nil poin

20 June 2012

Have you tried an RCZ or 508? Both drive very well and have that sparkle old Peugeots used to have...

DriverVIBE.com

....Celebrating Great Cars & Great Writing....

MrJ

14 June 2012

Fussy styling, pouty mouth, ergonomics of the madhouse.

Add a "baggy gearshift" and a "slightly troublesome clutch".

Result: Mais Non! 

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