Review: Peugeot 208 - sophistication and style
Peugeot’s 208 continues the French marque’s upward trajectory. Jonathan Crouch reports on the frugal 1.6-litre e-HDi diesel variant
The 208 hatchback sees Peugeot build yet more sophistication and style into its supermini line. With some extremely economical engines and a focus on making the car better to drive and better to sit in, this could well be one to watch. Especially in frugal but responsive 1.6 e-HDi diesel form.
The best thing about the 207 was its engine technology and the 208 carries on where the 207 left off with probably the most impressive range of efficient engines in the whole supermini class. Arguably the cleverest units are reserved for the diesel line-up, with the ‘e-HDi’ micro-hybrid technology that’s already been widely used across Peugeot’s larger models.
There are two units from which to choose, a 68bhp 1.4 and a 92bhp 1.6, with or without the Gallic brand’s rather jerky EGC semi-automatic transmission. We elected to try a manual 1.4, valuing the extra potential performance that sees this variant reach sixty from rest in 10.8s on the way to 118mph. And on the move, it feels fun to drive, helped by the tiny steering wheel, above which you must look to see instrumentation that’s been raised up near the windscreen like an MPV.
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True, the electric power steering could do with a little more feel and you get a slightly notchy manual transmission. Otherwise though, there’s enough in the 208’s repertoire to see off the Clios, Puntos and Corsas that many buyers will be trading up from and there’s a quality of ride and chassis balance that seems impossible when you learn that this car’s suspension set-up has been carried over largely unchanged from the stodgy old 207.
The 208 represents a new design direction for Peugeot in this class. Many of the styling cues are directly attributable to the SR1 show car which debuted at the 2010 Geneva Show and while the basic silhouette could be accused of being a little more generic than its predecessors, the detailing is crisp, the surfacing neat and the overall shape is extremely cohesive. A fat-arched GTI version would look fantastic.
While the Peugeot 207 was a reasonably competent and perfectly inoffensive thing, it was always a tough car to recommend over a bunch of very talented rivals. Peugeot certainly doesn’t want the 208 to follow that path and has equipped it to challenge for class honours, especially in the 1.6-litre e-HDi diesel guise we’ve been looking at here. This engine is one of the picks in the line-up, still frugal but with enough performance for longer trips.
It’s a key part of a 208 line-up that confirms the way that Peugeot as a brand appears to have rediscovered its mojo. Anybody who loves small, fun cars will raise a glass to that fact.
Statistics: Peugeot 208 1.6 e-HDi
Price: £14,345 to £18,045
0-62 mph: 9.7 to11.8
Max speed: 114 to 118
Co2 (g/km): 98 to 99
Combined mpg: 74.3
Power BHP: 91 to 114
Ins. Grp. (1-50): 17 to 19
Length (mm): 3,962 to 3,965
Width (mm): 1,710
Height (mm): 1,460
Weight (kg): 1,625 to 1,665
Warranty (years): 3
Warranty (miles): 60,000
Service int. (miles): 12,500
Boot Cap. (litres): 285