Peugeot 208 hatchback

£11,695 - £18,245

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. 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-litre BlueHDI 75 is the model to buy. It's the most economical combustion engine in the world to date, returning a frankly stellar 94.2mpg and emitting 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 recently been streamlined to make it less confusing. The three-door 208 is available in every spec, from Access A/C to GTI, while the five-door range goes from Access A/C to the sporty GT Line.

Doubts surrounding Peugeot reliability still linger, but in the 208's case they're unfounded. Its average faring in our 2015 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, where it came 73rd, may not be the best statistic, but reliability was one of its higher ratings. Safety is also good, although the car earned its five-star Euro NCAP rating in 2012 and the testing has become more stringent since then.