Peugeot 208 Review

Find out more about the Peugeot 208 in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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  • Pros
  • Stylish exterior
  • Fun to drive
  • Frugal engines
  • Cons
  • Not especially spacious
  • Peugeot badge carries reliability worries
  • Not as good to drive as some rivals
  • MPG
    55 - 76
  • CO2
    97 - 116 g/km
Review

 

Following on from the hugely popular but ultimately uninspiring 206 and the relatively unloved 207, the 208 was tasked with bringing Peugeot back to the head of the pack in a supermini segment once ruled by small French hatchbacks.

 

Fortunately for Peugeot, the 208 delivered in spades, rekindling something of the fire started by the 205. Not only was it a massively good-looking car, but it had a joie de vivre that had been missing from France’s little cars for years.

 

The 208’s i-Cockpit has been designed to make the car feel more entertaining to drive, with its tiny steering wheel and high-set dials, while the dashboard has been pared down to remove many of the buttons, which have relocated to the central touchscreen.

 

It isn’t a hugely spacious model, with limited space for rear passengers and a relatively small boot, but superminis rarely are, and the 208 does stand up well in comparison with its rivals. It offers similar space to the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo, as well as having five doors on all but the go-faster GTI models.

Latest model

 

The 208 arrived on British roads at the end of 2012, and it hasn’t yet seen a considerable update. It’s still a stylish and spacious alternative to the key players in the segment, though, giving the Ford Fiesta and VW Polo a run for their money.

 

Inside, it offers a smart-looking, minimalist cabin that’s dominated by a standard-fit touchscreen infotainment system and the so-called ‘i-Cockpit’. It’s a design that has been introduced to make the car more enjoyable to drive, and it involves a set of high-mounted instrument dials and a tiny steering wheel, which is supposed to be reminiscent of a go-kart.

 

There is a degree of go-kart feel to the way the 208 drives, too, with a sprightly change of direction elicited from the steering and decent response from the small, light pedals. It rolls quite a lot, even in go-faster GTI guises, but it has plenty of grip and it’s good fun to drive quickly.

 

It also provides decent value for money, with the £14,000 entry-level asking price including alloy wheels, digital radio and a DAB digital radio.

 

You get a choice of engines ranging from the basic 1.2-litre 81bhp petrol to the more efficient 1.4-litre diesels, but all will achieve sensible economy figures.

 

Range-topping GTI models, however, use a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine that pumps out 205bhp, enabling a 0-60mph time of less than 6.5 seconds before hitting a 143mph top speed. That performance comes at the expense of economy, although 52mpg and 125g/km CO2 emissions are respectable for such a fast car.

 

Value for money

 

Prices for a new 208 start at £14,000, and that buys you the entry-level Active model with 15-inch alloy wheels and a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

 

Spending a little more can add goodies such as larger wheels, sports styling, climate control and automatic headlights, while opting for extra performance can set you back more than £22,000.

 

You can save yourself a considerable amount of money, though, by opting for a used model. Early, high-mileage examples come in at around £3,700, while low-mileage ex-demo cars can be around £3,500 cheaper than list price.

 

Looks and image

 

The 208 has a chic and stylish design that has earned it praise from all corners, and the look has aged well without needing wholesale updates. That the car has survived for almost five years without receiving a significant facelift is testament to just what a good job Peugeot’s designers have done.

 

The interior is equally noticeable, with a minimalist structure and a sizeable touchscreen sitting atop the dashboard. Equally noticeable, however, is the tiny steering wheel and the high instrument dials, which are designed to make the car more fun to drive.

 

There is a range of paint options available, from pearlescent whites to metallic blues and even a sort of matt-effect textured grey.

Space and practicality

 

The mainstream 208s (other than the GTIs and some special editions) are offered solely with five doors, which aids practicality, but superminis such as this are never going to make ideal family cars.

The 285-litre boot is competitive for the segment, and it’s more than capable of swallowing the weekly shop, but fitting two children’s school bags, musical instruments and sports gear in there might be a bit of a squeeze. Certainly, it won’t take a family’s suitcases for a week-long holiday.

 

Further forward, there is room for four, and though adults might find the rear leg- and headroom a touch underwhelming, children will be perfectly happy back there, even for journeys lasting a couple of hours.

 

What’s under the bonnet

 

The 208 engine range is surprisingly extensive for such a small car, and includes a whole host of petrol and diesel options.

 

As standard, the 208 gets an 81bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine, but customers can also choose a 1.6-litre 74bhp diesel that returns 94.2mpg on the combined cycle.

 

Mid-range cars also get the option of a more powerful 1.2-litre petrol engine, in the shape of the three-cylinder turbocharged PureTech 110 unit, which offers 108bhp and a six-speed automatic transmission, as well as a 99bhp 1.6-litre diesel capable of more than 80mpg.

 

High-spec GT Line cars come with the option of a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 163bhp and a 118bhp 1.6-litre diesel, but the range is crowned by the GTI.

 

Using the same basic engine block as the 163bhp petrol, the GTIs have been upgraded to produce 197bhp (205bhp in the GTI by Peugeot Sport) – a lot for front-wheel-drive cars – and both offer a top speed of 143mph and a 0-60mph time of around 6.5 seconds.

 

Running costs

 

Running a 208 ought to be a relatively inexpensive exercise, with frugal engines and sensible insurance premiums keeping day-to-day costs to a minimum. There is always the concern, though, that it will go wrong at some point, as Peugeot’s reliability record leaves something to be desired.

 

Fortunately, all new 208s come with a three-year warranty, which should keep unexpected bills to a minimum for a while at least.

Things to look out for

 

Peugeot’s reputation for reliability is not brilliant, but the 208 has generally been regarded as one of its more dependable models.

 

There has been a recall to the bonnet latch, though, and some cars were recalled for having air in the braking system that reduced braking performance, so check this work has either been done or is not necessary before you splash the cash.

 

Some cars have also been known to suffer infotainment screen issues, which can only be sorted by a Peugeot dealer, while some find that the manual gearbox is sometimes reluctant to go into reverse. It’s not a fault per se, but it seems to be an irritating design flaw inherent to that transmission.

 

Rivals

 

The 208’s main rivals are the ever-popular Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa, both of which are deserving of the huge sales they achieve thanks to impressive driving dynamics, strong aesthetics and solid interior quality.

 

Volkswagen’s Polo, and its sister cars, the Skoda Fabia and Seat Ibiza, are strong contenders, too, offering impressive build quality and excellent practicality, while the Citroen C3 and Renault Clio offer home-grown rivalry with sharp styling.

 

Outside Europe, the hugely spacious Honda Jazz and the brilliant-to-drive Mazda2 offer much of the Japanese competition, while the Toyota Yaris, Mitsubishi Mirage, Nissan Micra, Hyundai i20 and Kia Rio are also popular choices.

 

Depreciation warning

 

Peugeot 208s do depreciate relatively quickly, but the positive side of that is that you can pick a fairly new, low-mileage example for a song.

 

We’ve seen six-month-old 208s with little more than delivery mileage selling for thousands of pounds less than the list price. Of course, it’s not technically a new car, and it will have less warranty remaining, but the saving makes it a hugely compelling option – particularly if you’re not too fussed about colour and interior trim options.

 

Early 208s with higher mileages, meanwhile, tend to sell for around £3,500-£4,000, while a three-year-old car with a sensible odometer reading will probably set you back something in the region of £5,500.

Which 208 to Pick

Trims Explained

The Peugeot 208 is offered in a choice of five main trim levels, including GTI mdoels, although a number of special editions have been sold for a limited time.

Active

Active is the entry-level trim and its £14,000 asking price buys you 15-inch alloy wheels, a seven-inch touchscreen, digital radio and LED daytime running lights.

Buyers will also get a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Allure

Moving up to the Allure trim costs an extra £1,700.

It adds rear parking sensors, automatic headlights and wipers and larger alloy wheels to the spec sheet.

GTI

At the top of the range, however, are the GTI cars. The basic GTI prestige comes with the turbocharged 1.6-litre engine, heated sports seats and a panoramic glass roof.

The GTI by Peugeot Sport boasts lowered suspension, a wider track and a Torsen front differential, as well as even larger 18-inch alloys.

Summary

  1. Low-mileage used examples represent excellent value
  2. Car has been subject to two recalls, so ensure work has been done
  3. Watch out for infotainment problems, which have to be sorted by a dealer
  4. Prices for new models start at £14,000
  5. Used examples cost from £3,500
  6. Plenty of kit as standard
  7. Practicality is competitive, but it’s no family car
  8. GTI models are fast but expensive
  9. Peugeot Sport GTI is one of the best hot hatches on the market
  10. New cars don’t hold their value well, but used cars can be very cheap