Tasty petit four

Lit­tle Peu­geot brings a touch of Paris to the city-car class

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test - NEIL DOWLING neil.dowling@cars­guide.com.au

THE city-car mar­ket gets a French makeover that is as up­lift­ing as an early-morn­ing choco­late crois­sant. Peu­geot’s 208 baby hatch is cute, ca­pa­ble, com­fort­able and af­ford­able— a light-car en­trant you must con­sider, even though per­for­mance is weak and there are a few cabin nig­gles.

The pretty re­place­ment for the 207— a de­light to drive but oner­ous to own— is roomier, bet­ter equipped, cheaper, safer and prom­ises to be bet­ter built.

VALUE

The Al­lure four-door hatch tested here is $21,990 as a man­ual, a deft price match with sim­i­larly equipped ri­vals such as the ex­cel­lent Kia Rio and Ford Fi­esta. Euro ri­vals can cost more.

This 208 has the same engine and per­for­mance as the $10,000 dearer Mini, which may make own­ers of the lat­ter cringe. Peu­geot matches most ri­vals with its own capped-price ser­vic­ing at $810 for three years, with in­ter­me­di­ary no­cost ser­vice vis­its.

The Al­lure vari­ant gets Blue­tooth and six-speaker au­dio with iPod/USB con­nec­tiv­ity, a neat cen­tral touch­screen, cruise con­trol, dual-zone cli­mate air­con and even a cooled glovebox.

DE­SIGN

Love it. The de­sign is fresh, clearly Euro­pean and its lines clev­erly shrink the car. De­spite this, it’s as big in­side as many ri­vals— Toy­ota’s Yaris ex­cepted— and Peu­geot wins out-of-town buy­ers with a full­size spare wheel.

Dash de­sign is dom­i­nated by the in­tu­itive, easy to view touch­screen. Gauges are mounted in a high bin­na­cle viewed over the steer­ing wheel rim. It places the steer­ing wheel low to give a sporty driv­ing po­si­tion, yet the di­als are clearly vis­i­ble. But the vents are small and air­flow re­lies heav­ily on the fan while the trans­la­tion from left to right-hand-drive leaves us with small, awk­wardly placed ped­als more ac­com­mo­dat­ing of size-8 shoes than 10s.

TECH­NOL­OGY

Peu­geot’s par­ent com­pany PSA makes the 1.6-litre four­cylin­der engine (88kW/ 160Nm) for fam­ily use and also sells to BMW-Mini. There’s a turbo ver­sion for the 208 GTi.

De­spite the 208 Al­lure’s con­tem­po­rary tech­nol­ogy, it has a fo­cus on fuel econ­omy and low emis­sions so, in tick­ing th­ese boxes, it loses in per­for­mance.

The lo­ca­tion of the touch­screen pre­views the por­ta­ble tablet tech­nol­ogy of the fu­ture. For now the 208 screen is su­perb in its ease of use. Sat­nav is an op­tion.

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