Perky lit­tle car has great looks

Central Otago Mirror - - FEATURES -

The Go

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.

Show

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.

Com­pany spin

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”.

Bou­quet

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.

Brick­bat

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.

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