Peugeot 208 hatchback - Engines, drive & performance
The latest Peugeot 208 is light and agile but the steering lacks feel
Sitting on all-new underpinnings, the Peugeot 208 is as fresh as new cars come and future-proofed to accept fully electric propulsion. It's an impressive feat of packaging and engineering, and the new 208 is around 30kg lighter. Sadly that hasn't translated into a great driving experience; it’s not bad by any stretch, but the 208's shortfalls make you realise just how good the Ford Fiesta is in this department. The Peugeot's slightly firmer than the Clio, making it slightly more agile but a touch less relaxed on the motorway.
The 208's steering is light and has very little feel, while the small steering wheel can sometimes feel a little odd around town. Its size and shape takes a little getting used to, and you can sometimes lose track of where the front wheels are pointing. Rear visibility can also be a bit restrictive, both over your shoulder and out of the small rear windscreen. The eight-speed automatic gearbox has been improved and now shifts gears very quietly, while the six-speed manual still feels a bit rubbery.
Peugeot 208 petrol engines
Petrol is expected to power the majority of 208s and your choice is fairly straightforward: the same 1.2-litre PureTech three-cylinder engine, but in 75, 100 or 130 guises. They're named roughly in line with the power they offer, and the entry-level 75 model gets 74bhp and takes 14.9 seconds to get from 0-62mph. It also has almost half the pulling power of the 100 version, so we'd avoid it unless you're on a really tight budget. The 99bhp model also gets a six-speed manual gearbox instead of a five-speed, making it more flexible for motorway cruising. Its extra power and grunt should make it feel much more lively, as attested by a brisk 9.9 second 0-62mph dash. In back-to-back testing it proved quicker than the equivalent Renault Clio, if slightly less refined. It's also possible to fit the PureTech 100 with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, but this reduces its acceleration to 62mph by around a second.
The range-topping PureTech 130 model has a punchy 129bhp, cutting its 0-62mph time to just 8.7 seconds, which is 0.3 seconds faster than a Ford Fiesta EcoBoost with 138bhp. It comes with Peugeot's eight-speed automatic as standard and is a brilliant engine. It has very little lag for a turbocharged engine, the rev needle zips around to the redline and it makes a cultured noise too.
Peugeot is still offering one diesel in the 208, despite the fuel's decline in popularity of late, and it could appeal if you spend lots of time on the motorway. At 1.5-litres in capacity and with four cylinders, the BlueHDi 100 is bigger than the petrol engine and has the most torque (250Nm vs 205Nm for the PureTech 100), getting it from 0-62mph in 10.2 seconds. It comes with a six-speed manual gearbox and should prove adept at overtaking and cruising.
For the first time in Peugeot's history, the 208 launched with the option of a fully electric powertrain alongside petrol and diesel engines. Badged the Peugeot e-208, it's fitted with a 50kWh lithium-ion battery pack and a 134bhp electric motor, so not only is it the most efficient version, it's also the most powerful. It can get from 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds, with a single-speed gearbox making for uninterrupted progress.