Peugeot 208 Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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What is it like to drive?

Let's get the diesel out of the way first. Peugeot’s diesels are smooth and extremely frugal, but the 208 diesel is blunted and leaden. Ignore it.

The 74bhp petrol, meanwhile, is best left as the vehicle of choice for the L-plate contingent, but one up from that, the 99bhp version, is a cracker. It makes the chirrupy 3cyl noises we like without the vibration we don’t, and has a decent slug of performance. Just a pity that the standard six-speed manual that it’s joined to is less precise than we’d like.

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You can solve that by either speccing the eight-speed auto, or if your budget stretches that far, opting for the 128bhp 3cyl 1.2-litre, which gets said auto as standard. The extra poke doesn’t turn the 208 into a warm hatch, but it’s spritely enough to make the car feel bright and energetic. 

How does it handle the twisty stuff?

The chassis itself isn’t trying to be as agile and chuckable as a Fiesta, but it feels wieldy purely because the steering wheel is pocket-sized. The ride’s fine on 16s, but the handsome 17s that arrive on GT trim do the 208’s refinement no favours, and the ride gets slightly uncomfortable. 

Still, it’s better than the e-208, which, at around 300kg heavier than a petrol-powered 208, has forced Peugeot to toughen up the springs and redesign the rear suspension to support the heft. With firmer settings and less overall travel, the e-208 is noticeably more fidgety still.

What’s the difference like off the line?

The entry-level 74bhp petrol engine takes a heady 14.9secs from 0-62mph and is best avoided, while the mid-range 99bhp takes a more respectable 9.9secs (10.8secs in auto guise), with the range-topping 128bhp variant cutting that to 8.7secs.

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The e-208 beats that by half a second, but accelerates much more gradually than some of its rivals, without the insta-thwack YouTube thrives on. It’s particularly good for zipping around town, while the regen is well-judged too. It all feels very… normal. Click these blue words to head over to our full review.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

Peugeot 208 1.2 Puretech 130 Allure Premium + 5DR EAT8
  • 0-628.7s
  • CO2103.0g/km
  • BHP129
  • MPG
  • Price£23,945

the cheapest

Peugeot 208 1.2 PureTech Active Premium 5dr
  • 0-6214.9s
  • CO294.0g/km
  • BHP75
  • MPG
  • Price£17,625

the greenest

Peugeot 208 1.5 Bluehdi 100 Active Premium + 5DR
  • 0-6210.2s
  • CO285.0g/km
  • BHP100
  • MPG
  • Price£21,655

Variants We Have Tested

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