For the 208 Peugeot has gone back to its roots, and came up with a little stunner. Gone are the excess fats and gaping Coelacanth mouth of the 207, replaced by a slimmer body, tighter lines and fine detailing in the head and tail lights. At the front Peugeot’s signature Lion emblem sits snugly between two artistic bonnet creases, while foglamps are well integrated into the front bumper. The wave-shaped tail lights add to the Pug’s zesty style, though some might find the overall look slightly too feminine. One thing is for sure, the cub of the Peugeot range will definitely be a hit with the ladies!
The interior is as quirky as the best from Citroen, but that is no bad thing. It features an interesting blend of fine materials, and perceived quality is up there with the best in its class. The centre console is dominated by a touchscreen media interface (which can also be used to view your pictures) which ‘grows’ out of the dashboard, while controls for dual climate control are neatly positioned below the centre airvents. The placement of the main dials can trouble some taller drivers as the top of the steering wheel cuts right through your line of vision. The only way around it is to move the steering wheel to its lowest position or to move the seat up, but then the ‘wheel might be brushing your knees. Nestled between the sculpted dials is a full trip computer, and the steering wheel also houses satellite controls for radio and other music inputs. Rear head and legroom is on the tight side, but luggage space (at 285 litres) is class leading. And no, there is nothing wrong with your eyes – the doorhandles are multi-coloured, like the interesting paintjobs of the TVR’s of old … The interior of this car model is also elegant looking because of its leather car seat covers. You may also add some car accessories to give more color and life to the vehicle.
We had the naturally aspirated 1.6 VTi engine under scrutiny and it this revvy unit made light work of almost everything we threw at it. Though it thrives between 3000-5000rpm, it doesn’t feel sluggish at lower revs, nor does it give up the ghost towards the red line. The 1600 engine hits a respectable 120bhp at a slightly noisy 6000rpm, while peak torque (160Nm) is available from 4250rpm. In combination with a slick five speed manual gearbox it is a perfect little runabout, but a sixth gear would be helpful on the motorway to keep revs, consumption and engine noise to a minimum. The chassis is a little gem and finds a good balance between city road ironing and back-road hugging. It’s a touch on the firm side, leading to some choppiness over bigger undulations. On the flipside it sucks to the inside of any corner like a melting plastic bag, with minimal understeer and bodyroll. Steering feel and feedback is good and makes for an entertaining experience when you feel like throwing the 208 at some twisty stuff. With a low kerb weight of just over a tonne, the cutesy Peugeot shoots to the 62mph mark in only 8.9 seconds and will top out at 118mph. Peugeot claims 48.7mpg for the EU combined cycle, but expect figures in the mid-thirties if you don’t behave.
The 208 is a big step in the right direction for Peugeot. It doesn’t need to give an inch to any of its competitors, and as long as people don’t associate it with its less successful predecessor it should find a place in the hearts of many buyers who are not afraid to venture outside of the ‘norm’. The styling is fresh, the handling is crisp. The interior also exhibits the most interesting design you’ll find in the B-segment. With an OTR price of just over £15,000 (5-door Allure spec) the 208 finds itself wedged in Polo-Fiesta territory, but it sure has the goods to get a decent slice of the Supermini pie.