Strong choice of petrol and electric drive, it looks fantastic and the build quality is stunning. Take note, VW
Fine margins really: not as roomy as a Polo, touchscreen still a fiddle. The ride’s jiggly, especially in the e-208
What is it?
A calculated gamble. The new Peugeot 208 is, on the face of it, yet another handsome French supermini from a nation that’s bloody terrific at building desirable small cars. And note that it’s not a 209 either, but a ‘new 208’, Peugeot having settled on names ending in ‘08’. So, same name, new face, and the same desire to duff up the Renault Clio, Citroen C3 and Ford Fiesta, while pinching a few sales from the supposedly posher likes of the Audi A1 and Mini.
Except, there isn’t just a new Peugeot 208. There’s also a new Peugeot e-208. All-electric drive, but identical looks. No blanked-off grilles, platypus nosecones or even bespoke paint. It’s just a new 208, and just as you’ll choose between petrol and diesel (and pick the former), there’s now a third way. No fanfare, no gimmicks, just an electric option. If the demand is there, this could rewrite supermini history. As long as it’s not pants.
Before we get to the nitty gritty of combustion versus current, and range vs running costs, let’s just cover off the visuals – this is a seriously handsome supermini, less gawky in the face than the old 208 and less fussy than the over-creased Audi A1 or VW Polo. Prettier than a Fiesta too, and more modern than a Mini. Peugeot’s come a long way since it decided that styling cars was more complicated than just grafting a Gotham’s Joker grin on the front and heading for the wine cellar. The high-spec models with triple-LED ‘claw’ lights and 17-inch rims are extremely handsome. And the expectations don’t fall flat when you climb inside either.
The range (of models, not the battery) is pretty simple: things kick off with a 74bhp petrol and five-speed manual, the middle version is a 99bhp of the same 1.2-litre turbo with a sixth gear or an optional eight-speed auto, and then there’s the same engine again, this time with 128bhp as a range-topper with the automatic ‘box as standard. There’s only one diesel engine, a 99bhp 1.5-litre four-pot, but sales are expected to be minute. And of course, you can have an e-208 with running costs, says Peugeot, identical to the petrol one over four years.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
No, hush about the 205. That was three decades ago, Get over it. This is a great small Peugeot. Gorgeous, well-made, technically on-point and good enough to drive. Need more room? Get an Ibiza. Need more fun? Buy a Fiesta. A bigger warranty? The Kia Rio. Sure, there are small battles the 208 doesn’t win, but be in no doubt this is an enormously desirable car in its own right because of Peugeot’s bloody-mindedness to do it its own thing.
The styling, the wacky cabin, the electric option, the revamp of the financial side to keep residuals strong and monthly prices affordable smacks of bravery that’d be beyond plenty of other rival brands. And so this is a very likeable car. One that, with a slightly less bimbly ride, and snappier touchscreen would in fact be a worthy class-topper.