PEU­GEOT FIGHTS BACK WITH STYLISH 208

French firm stakes claim to su­per­mini crown as im­pres­sive new model ticks all the right boxes

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - ANDY EN­RIGHT

BEAT­ING up the rest in the su­per­mini sec­tor ought to be easy for Peu­geot. It’s a com­pany with a bril­liant track record in small cars and here, in the UK, peo­ple like the brand. That’s the sort of foun­da­tion for suc­cess that most car mak­ers would give their eye teeth for, but it’s one that has seemed to hang like a mill­stone around Peu­geot’s neck in re­cent years.

Many will re­mem­ber the fan­tas­tic 205 of the 1980s, and a good many more will prob­a­bly have had first­hand ex­pe­ri­ence of the big-selling 206 that fol­lowed. As pretty as it was, the 206 was never a great car and its qual­ity is­sues de­terred a good many cus­tomers from shop­ping with Peu­geot again. That made its suc­ces­sor’s task a good deal trick­ier and while the 207, launched in 2006, was a much-im- proved model, it was al­ways play­ing catch-up.

As a re­sult, Peu­geot canned it early and brought us this car, the 208, now im­proved with Euro6 com­pat­i­bil­ity, ex­tra equip­ment and a smarter look. Let’s see how it drives in ba­sic 1.0-litre VTI petrol form.

Driv­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence

I’m not go­ing to make any apolo­gies for sin­gling out this three-cylin­der 1.0-litre petrol en­gine above the many oth­ers avail­able in the 208 line-up be­cause it’s my favourite. That said, the rest of the pow­er­plants cer­tainly aren’t bad, but in­dulge me for a mo­ment while I tell you about this three-pot VTI unit which puts out 68bhp. If you re­ally want more grunt, then it also comes in 1.2-litre 82bhp form.

A 1.0-litre en­gine doesn’t sound as if it would de­liver much fun in a su­per­mini. The 208 is a big car in su­per­mini terms and with just 68bhp on tap, you might ex­pect it to feel very un­der-pow­ered. What saves the day is this pow­er­plant’s su­per-light weight.

The three-cylin­der en­gine takes a mas­sive 95 ki­los out of the car’s front end and that has an ab­so­lutely de­fin­i­tive ef­fect on the way the car han­dles.

The body con­trol, the steer­ing re­sponse and the tenac­ity of the 1.0-litre car’s front end means you may find your­self dis­solv­ing into gales of laugh­ter as you punt it down a twisty road.

So while the 1.0-litre model’s

0-62mph time of 14.0 sec­onds doesn’t prom­ise much on pa­per, get be­hind the wheel and you’ll ex­pe­ri­ence one of the most re­ward­ing small cars you’ll have driven in a very long time.

De­sign and Build

Peu­geot has tried to make this 208’s styling a bit more as­sertive and dis­tinc­tive. The restyled front bumper cre­ates a sharper and more pre­cise line, with a wider grille and deeper chrome fin­isher that is now fully in­te­grated. Plus most mod­els get two-tone head­lamps, with black and chrome masks and a hi-tech LED light sig­na­ture. At the rear, the full LED light clus­ters have been re­designed to in­cor­po­rate Peu­geot’s 3D ‘claws’ mo­tif.

In­side, not too much needed do­ing. Soft touch plas­tics, tac­tile switchgear, chrome high­lights and al­most fault­less er­gonomics show other su­per­mini sellers how it should be done.

As be­fore, the two main talk­ing points in­side are the small­ness of the steer­ing wheel (over which you view the high-set in­stru­ments) and the colour touch­screen at­tached to the fas­cia that con­trols au­dio, trip com­puter and stereo func­tions and to which you can add a now wider range of clever down­load­able apps. The wheel is now trimmed in full­grain leather from Ac­tive trim, while the soft-touch moulded dash­board strip — which is stan­dard re­gard­less of trim level — has smarter grain­ing on higher spec­i­fi­ca­tion mod­els.

De­spite the slightly more com­pact out­ward di­men­sions, there’s a lit­tle more room on the back seat than you might ex­pect — and de­cent lug­gage space be­hind. Don’t get us wrong: 285-litres isn’t huge by su­per­mini seg­ment stan­dards but it’s a very us­able space that can be ex­tended to as much as 1,076-litres of you push for­ward the rear bench.

Mar­ket and Model

Ex­pect to pay some­where be­tween £10,000 and £11,500 for the 1.0 VTI petrol ver­sion of this 208 and within that span, there’s a £500 pre­mium for the five-door bodystyle. Think care­fully about pay­ing the £1,300 pre­mium to go from this en­try-level 1.0-litre petrol model to the 1.2: that’s quite a lot ex­tra to pay for an ex­tra 14bhp.

A range of per­son­al­i­sa­tion packs are

now avail­able to match the cur­rent buy­ing pref­er­ence in this seg­ment. And no mat­ter which three or five­door 208 model you opt for, you’ll find a com­pet­i­tive level of stan­dard equip­ment in­cluded.

Yes, you’d prob­a­bly get more if you bought some­thing from a bud­get brand but nev­er­the­less, even the en­try-level ver­sion of this car is de­cently kit­ted out with cruise con­trol with a speed lim­iter to help you keep your li­cence in ur­ban ar­eas, a stereo with an AUX-IN jack and wheel-mounted con­trols, re­mote cen­tral lock­ing and elec­tric front win­dows.

Fresh tech­nol­ogy in­cludes a ‘Mir- rorscreen’ fea­ture, which al­lows you to du­pli­cate the func­tion­al­ity of your smart­phone on a dash­board in­fo­tain­ment dis­play that’s stan­dard from ‘Ac­tive’ trim up­wards and is com­pat­i­ble with apps like Coy­ote, Parko­pe­dia, Glympse, and Sy­gic.

Safety-wise, buy­ers can now spec­ify fea­tures like a re­vers­ing cam­era and the Ac­tive City Brake sys­tem that scans the road ahead as you drive for po­ten­tial col­li­sion haz­ards.

Cost of Own­er­ship

Peu­geot has clearly thought long and hard about cost of own­er­ship fig­ures be­cause they’re amongst the best in the busi­ness. This 1.0-litre model re­turns 65.7mpg on the com­bined cy­cle and puts out just 99g/km of CO2.

What’s also clear is that this is a car that pays more than mere lip ser­vice to en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns.

With 25% of re­cy­cled or nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als mak­ing up its mass of poly­mers, it walks the walk.

The rear bumper and apron assem­bly are made en­tirely us­ing these ma­te­ri­als, sav­ing around 1,600 tonnes of car­bon diox­ide in man­u­fac­tur­ing alone per year.

Any­thing else? In­sur­ance is group 5 for this 1.0-litre vari­ant on the 1-50 scale. And resid­ual val­ues have proved to be a step change from the dis­ap­point­ing 207, while ser­vic­ing in­ter­vals are ev­ery 12,500 miles.

Plus there’s a three-year/60,000mile war­ranty with Peu­geot road­side as­sis­tance.

Sum­mary

The 208 has proved to be a land­mark car for Peu­geot and the most re­cent changes should fur­ther en­able it to con­tinue to re­claim lost mar­ket share for its brand in the su­per­mini seg­ment.

Go for a three-cylin­der petrol model like the en­try-level 1.0-litre VTI vari­ant we’ve been look­ing at here if you want the most fun be­hind the wheel and the low­est over­all run­ning costs.

The public at large seems to be catch­ing on to what a good pack­age this is.

They bought the 206 in huge num­bers and that wasn’t a great car. Now that Peu­geot has fi­nally brought us the su­per­mini we knew they were ca­pa­ble of, at a price that’s right, sales are de­servedly grow­ing. Our ver­dict: 78/100. Peu­geot’s much im­proved 208 is a su­per­mini that now makes a con­vinc­ing case for it­self, even in its least ex­pen­sive three cylin­der 1.0-litre VTI petrol guise.

The dis­tinc­tive new ex­te­rior of the Peu­geot 208 is com­ple­mented by its in­te­rior soft touch plas­tics, tac­tile switchgear and fault­less er­gonomics

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