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Long-term review

Peugeot 208 - long-term review

£23,775 / £25,225 as tested / £318pcm
Published: 19 Aug 2020
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SPEC HIGHLIGHTS

  • SPEC

    Peugeot 208 GT-line 1.2 PureTech 130 EAT8

  • ENGINE

    1199cc

  • BHP

    129bhp

  • 0-62

    8.7s

Our Peugeot 208 has a mystery button (and an annoying roof)

The all-new 208 still has a mystery, do-nothing button inside, like pretty much all Peugeots from the past half-decade. It’s on the end of the indicator stalk. Its twin on the wiper stalk works the trip computer, but on the left… nothing. Why isn’t it set up as a Favourites button, perhaps shortcutting to navigate-me-home, or muting the sat-nav, or shutting up the parking sensors? 

When so many functions have been buried in the touchscreen, and so many more operated by touch-sensitive pads amid the dashboard, it’s a tad maddening there’s a random, tactile, physical button hanging about in here for no reason whatsoever. I keep pressing it in different combinations, wondering if I’ll ever unlock a secret 208 Easter egg. 

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Maybe one day, a bigger steering wheel will fold out of a hidden locker, or if I triple-click it while whistling the French national anthem and winking my left eye, a genie will emerge from the USB port and grant me three wishes. 

A rational driving position, please. Next up, I’d solve another button-related quirk of the 208 – that turning the engine on and off requires a two-or-three second push of the engine start button. Some sort of ‘are you sure’ safety feature perhaps, but when literally every other car starts on the ‘p’ of the push, it just feels like the Peugeot’s computer has gone to sleep every time you want to rouse or kill its well-mannered tri-cylinder engine. 

And for my final genie of-the-random do-nothing button request? I’d have to be deleting the £500 panoramic glass roof. 

This isn’t a weight-obsessed grumble about the centre of gravity. The 208 is not a car that sells on handling. It sells on its spaceship interior. And why wouldn’t you want that bathed in all the extra illumination of a beautiful summer’s day?

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Answer: heat. This is my bugbear with giganto-glass roofs: they provide a deeply ironic real-life case study of the greenhouse effect. And no matter how much the glass is tinted, or electrochromatically farted about with, or even how well-insulated the sliding blind beneath the pane is, I’ve never encountered one that didn’t turn the cabin into a gently simmering slow-cooker. 

The 208’s glass roof is indeed tinted to what the trade calls ‘hen night limo levels of privacy.’ I guess more people just presume it’s a black-painted roof. And there’s a sliding (not motorised, which is fine) blind I can drag forwards to pretend the roof is indeed opaque. But to no avail – it’s always a stuffy sweatbox, and I’ve taken to driving to weird and secluded corners of local park parks in a futile attempt to seek out shade. 

Of course, the answer is to use the 208’s climate control. But I’ve noticed that, when left on the ‘auto’ setting, the 208’s blower seems to be working exceedingly hard to maintain a stable temperature. And this was confirmed last week when I spent a few days in the all-electric e-208. It arrived with a metal roof, not a glass one. Now, in an EV, with no engine noise to muffle the fan speed, it quickly becomes blatantly obvious - and annoying – if the A/C is doing overtime.

But in the e-208 – where sparing use of the air-con is critical for ultimate battery range – with no glass roof ushering in the sunlight, the 208 was able to keep its cool.

And you know what? Even with a sheet of steel for a roofskin, it certainly didn’t feel any less futuristic inside.

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