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Car Review

Peugeot 208 review

£20,135 - £28,120
710
Published: 13 Jun 2024
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The supermini you buy because of how it looks inside and out, not because of what it costs or how it drives

Good stuff

Edgy, imaginative design, frugal hybrid powertrain gives a useful alternative to all-electric e-208

Bad stuff

Love it/hate it idiosyncratic driving position, laggy touchscreen, not very spacious

Overview

What is it?

It’s the smallest Peugeot you can buy, now the 108 has said au revoir and Peugeot has sadly quit the city car game. This generation of 208 has been around since mid-2019. It replaced a car also called ‘208’ (because after the 206 and 207 Peugeot realised it was going to run out of numbers sooner or later) and it sits on a platform that also underpins the Vauxhall Corsa, DS 3 Crossback, and Peugeot’s own 2008 crossover.

What’s been done to keep it fresh?

It got a facelift in mid-2024, which made it 37 per cent more LED-tastic. The claw-inspired running lights now dominate the car’s cheerful cheeks, the grille has more colour-coded vanes, and there’s new LED light clusters front and rear. It’s one of the most striking and handsome superminis around.

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As oodles of dreary-looking Chinese runabouts arrive, Peugeot must be relieved to be building one of those rare small cars where you’d know it was a Peugeot even if you covered up the badge. Which was also redesigned recently, come to think of it. 37 per cent more lion-tastic.

Under the bonnet are two new semi-electric hybrid engines. You can’t plug them in for a charge-up: if that’s your preference, then the all-electric e-208 is for you, so check out our full verdict on that car at this link. We’ll concentrate here on the combustion versions, and they’re still plenty popular. In fact, the pre-facelift 208 was Europe’s best-selling car in 2022.

Engine choices then?

No diesels any more. As well as the older 74bhp and 99bhp petrol units, the hybrids are offered in 99bhp and 134bhp tunes. Sadly there’s no longer a 200bhp 208 GTI: this generation of 208 never got to wear a pair of running shoes and a striped tracksuit. Boo.

The hybrids are automatic-gearbox-equipped only, which is just as well because shifting with the manual gearbox is like whisking coal. Peugeot says adding the dollop of e-boost reduces fuel consumption by 15 per cent, though your mileage will vary depending on where that mileage is. It’s not a machine built primarily for striding along motorways, after all.

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Is it as mad on the inside as on the outside?

Oui, though Peugeot has tried to rationalise it a bit for the 2024 update. So, while the steering wheel remains a tiny saucer you have to position very carefully to avoid obscuring the digital dials, there are some useful updates.

The touchscreen’s swelled from 9in to 10in across, and there are rationalised shortcut keys on the centre console. The automatic gearbox cars also inherit Vauxhall’s drive selector. So it no longer looks like there’s a miniature electric razor laying about on the central tunnel.

And is it good to drive?

It’s fine. The ride is less firm than in the heavier e-208, and if that’s a concern then avoid GT-line trim and go for Allure with smaller wheels. But the 208 is not a car you buy for its sharp dynamics. It’s one you buy for its sharp creases and sabre-toothed switchgear.

Frankly, after Peugeot spent so long in the design doldrums, we can forgive the so-so dynamics. It drives alright, but looks terrific and that’s a lot better than where Peugeot was two generations of supermini ago.

What's the verdict?

The supermini you buy because of how it looks inside and out, not because of what it costs or how it drives

It’s been a worthwhile update for the 208, honing its smartest-in-class looks while usefully broadening an engine line-up that wasn’t anything to write home about before. It’s still an idiosyncratic thing to punt along a road, because of the acquired taste cabin architecture and driving position, but we like living in a world where the French still attempt brave, wilfully different design choices even in workaday superminis.

And now the Ford Fiesta is sadly departed and other superminis will also be following it out the door soon, the 208 is, by dint of standing out from the crowd, likely to be higher than ever in supermini shopping lists.

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