Perky little car has great looks
In recent years Peugeot’s attractive, but dynamically dull cars have watered down memories of the entertaining 205 and 308 days, and Peugeot must be hoping this 208 will be a step in the right direction. Sampled in Britain just prior to its New Zealand launch, it employs the same platform as its 207 ancestor, with the same wheel base and the same MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension. It weighs a tad less, thanks to careful choice of materials, lighter engines – the 1.2 is 21kg down on its predecessor – and smaller overall dimensions, with 70mm cut, largely from the front overhang. Peugeot says the cabin is actually roomier, making better use of the space and with slimmer seat backs to preserve rear leg room. My three-door car restricted rear access but once strapped in there was plenty of headroom and ample space for my 1.6-metre frame. My test car used the 1.2-litre threecylinder engine with a five-speed manual transmission and it’s an impressive wee unit, with a growly engine note boasting character that belies its modest capacity. At round-town speeds it feels livelier than 60kW and 118Nm suggest and though it’s more relaxed at open-road speeds, it felt refined enough for extended highway cruising at Britain’s 113kmh motorway limit. Thanks partly to England’s crowded roads and a traffic jam which turned a 40-minute return trip into a six-hour odyssey, I averaged 6l/100km over 190km, generously over the 4.5-litre claim.
The 208 is an elegant little car, with a presence that attracts admiration. The cabin is smart too. The Allure spec I tried had supportive and well-shaped seats with contrast piping, a sporty flatbottomed steering wheel, and good ergonomics that are a big step forward from recent small Peugeots, though I’d have liked a larger glovebox and better-placed cup holders.
Peugeot NZ gets a $23,990 1.2-litre VTI manual in Active specification, a $25,990 1.6-litre auto and a top-spec $28,990 1.6-litre auto Allure. All get five doors, and a 7-inch touch screen as standard. Peugeot Division manager Simon Rose expects to sell 30 or more per month after the cars go on sale on October 12. He had taken 11 cash deposits before launch and says there is demand from clients previously driving other brands. He says a lot of people “fall in love with the three-door styling but opt for the five-door”.
Peugeot’s designers for creating a more attractive, more useable cabin from a smaller footprint, and penning such a handsome face, which imparts a grown-up air to a small-car format without seeming out of proportion.
It took a while to get used to the clutch’s extended travel before take-up, but really, my only reservation was the car’s ride. Peugeot’s chassis engineers are excellent at ironing out the big bumps but at least on Britain’s poor back-road surfaces the car still transmits all the annoying little jiggles.
Peugeot power: The 208 is an elegant little car, with a presence that attracts admiration.