Review

Peugeot 208 hatchback

Price  £11,695 - £21,995

Peugeot 208 hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Stylish looks
  • Well equipped
  • Cheap to run
Cons
  • Uncomfortable ride
  • Clumsy gearbox
  • Fiesta is more fun to drive

At a glance

The greenest
Active 1.4 HDi 70 5dr £15,445
The cheapest
Access A/C Puretech 1.0 VTi 68 3dr £11,695
The fastest
1.6 THP 200 GTI Prestige 3dr £21,995
Top of the range
1.6 THP 200 GTI Prestige 3dr £21,995

"The Peugeot 208 is a stylish looking supermini that's cheap to run and has plenty of kit."

The Peugeot 208 is a compact three or five-door hatchback that competes with cars such as the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo. It's pitched as the stylish alternative to those models and it's certainly a good-looking car inside and out, while a facelift has added a few more personalisation options as well as even more efficient engines. It's reasonably well equipped, too.

However, with the exception of the range-topping GTi model, the driving experience couldn't be described as fun. Dull handling and steering that doesn't offer much feedback are to blame. The upside is that the 208 feels quite grown-up – although again models like the VW Polo and Hyundai i20 feel even more mature.

The interior is well screwed together and the materials feel plush, at least on higher-spec versions. The dashboard looks quite novel, too, with the instrument binnacle mounted above the small steering wheel. The idea is that you look at the dials over the top of the wheel, rather than through it. It works reasonably well, but some drivers may find the wheel actually obscures the instruments, which is hardly ideal.

The 208 is offered with a wide range of engines. Small-capacity three-cylinder petrols are all the rage at the moment and Peugeot has made sure the 208 doesn't miss out. There are 1.0 and 1.2-litre versions, capable of over 60mpg, while road tax is cheap or even free on some versions.

Peugeot has a reputation for building good diesel engines and the 208 is available with a choice of these, too. The 1.6-litre HDi is our favourite, thanks to its useful pulling power, excellent fuel economy and free road tax across the board. If economy is your number-one priority, the 1.6 BlueHDI 75 is the model to buy. It's the most economical combustion engine in the world to date, producing a frankly stellar 94.2mpg and emits just 79g/km of CO2. It certainly isn't the quickest, though, taking more than 13 seconds to sprint from 0-62mph.

The trim range has been streamlined, following a rather confusing layout of models pre-facelfit. The three-door car is available in every spec, from Access A/C to GTI, while the five-door ranges from Access A/C to the sport GT Line.

Doubts surrounding Peugeot reliability still linger, but in the 208's case they're unfounded. Its average faring in the 2015 Driver Power survey, coming in at 73rd, may not be the best statistic, but its reliability score was one of its higher ratings. Safety is also good, although the car earned its five-star Euro NCAP rating in 2012, while newer models have faced a tougher test.

 

MPG, running costs & CO2

4.5 / 5

The Peugeot 208 offers low running costs across the range and includes the most efficient combustion engine in the world

Engines, drive & performance

3.5 / 5

The Peugeot 208’s diesel engines are very impressive, but it’s not as much fun to drive as a Fiesta

Interior & comfort

3.7 / 5

The Peugeot 208 has a nicer interior than the old 207, but some rivals are more comfortable

Practicality & boot space

3 / 5

Peugeot 208 has a big boot and the option of three or five doors

Reliability & safety

3.1 / 5

The Peugeot 208 should be more reliable than the car it replaced

What the others say

4.1 / 5
based on 4 reviews
4 / 5
The tiny steering wheel adds to the sporty feeling. At 3cm less in diameter than the 207's and the smallest in the class, it makes the car feel alert, with quick reactions once away from dead-ahead. A further benefit is that you view the dials over the top rather than through it, giving a head-up feel.
4 / 5
There are characterful 1.0- and 1.2-litre three-cylinder units at one end of the range, and two 1.6s at the other, with the more powerful one sporting a turbocharger. Between these is the 1.4 that's expected to be the biggest seller.
3.5 / 5
The Peugeot 208 hatchback has every chance of becoming a firm favourite with small hatchback buyers. It's smart, efficient and practical. With three- and five-door bodystyles it also offers variety. It does, however, have a ghost of the past to compete with. The 205, a product of the Eighties, is remembered fondly and as a result it has become benchmark to which all other small hatchbacks are measured. Few make the grade – even the 206 and the 207 that followed the 205 didn’t match up. So the 208 has great expectations heaped upon it and, at first glance, it looks like a worthy successor to the great 205.
5 / 5
It's not perfect, but taken as a whole it represents a really fresh package that is likely to appeal to a wide range of buyers - and for good reason. Peugeot really does seem to have started with that blank piece of paper designer types are always going on about.
What owners say 
4.2533333333333
4.3 /5 based on 15 reviews
60%
 of people would recommend this car to a friend
Last updated 
16 Jun 2015
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