Tasty petit four
Little Peugeot brings a touch of Paris to the city-car class
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.
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.
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.
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.