Can the classy new Peugeot 208 break the stranglehold on the small car market that is held by the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo?
It is a tough ask when other good small hatches like the Toyota Yaris and Honda Jazz take only a nibble of the cake. Peugeot reckons it is up to the challenge with a new little car that says quality both inside and out. With the launch range, they are targeting the ‘green’ buyer with some startling claims for economy and emissions.
There are five petrol and five diesel engines to choose from with manual or semi-automatic transmission. One of the more interesting is the new 1.2-litre petrol model. This sets new standards in smoothness and refinement for a three-cylinder engine – most of the others feel ‘odd’ to drive.
What it lacks in outright power it makes up for in smoothness and sheer willingness. Performance is perky for this capacity. The sprint to 62mph takes 12.2 seconds and top speed is 104mph. This should be enough for everyday drivers and there are hidden bonuses.
The 1.2-litre returns some impressive figures for a petrol car. The Combined Cycle economy of 62mpg shows its economy potential with sensible driving. Emissions of 104g/km are rewarded with zero road tax in the first year and just £20 on subsequent years. Whether you achieve these ‘target’ figures in everyday motoring will depend on your driving style!
Even more dramatic returns come from the 1.4 HDi diesel. This is a more sluggish performer, taking 15.5 seconds to reach 62mph and topping out at 101mph. But boy does it reward you at the pumps with a staggering 74mpg on the Combined Cycle!
This 1.4 HDI diesel has emissions of just 98g/km making it exempt from road tax. So if you are all out to save money, the sacrifice in driving pleasure may be worth it.
Harking back to the first 2-series hatchback, the 205 that was launched in 1983, there is an expectation that Peugeot will ultimately add a hot version of the 208. This would carry on the tradition started by the 205 GTi, one of the marque’s more iconic models.
I got a taste of what might come when I had a session with the 1.6 VTi. This was a pleasure after driving the more hair-shirted models. A power output of 120bhp means that it is as quick as some of the original hot hatches of the 80s. Enough for 0-60mph in 10.9 seconds.
Enough too, for me to feel the potential of the 208 as a sporty car. Can’t wait until they bring that one along.
Compared with the 207 that it replaces, the new model is something of a wonder as it is smaller on the outside and bigger on the inside. It has also lost 242lbs of weight and this helps with the handling and economy. On the road, the 208 feels more poised and more agile.
So the 208 should prove as easy on the pocket as it is on the eye with its clean, free-flowing lines and good aerodynamics. The three and five-door models manage to project different looks. Both are quite sophisticated sets of wheels.
The classy look and finish is repeated on the interior of the 208. and Peugeot has A clear instrument binnacle on top of the dash, a big information screen in the centre and a small diameter steering make an advanced-looking cockpit for a compact car.
Prices for the new 208 span from and eye-catching £9,995 for the starter model, a 1.0-litre petrol in the lowest trim, to the best part of £16,000 for a flagship model with all the kit and a rorty 120bhp 1.6 VTi engine. That fuel-sipping diesel is listed at £13,495.