The 207's successor launched in 2012 with an all-new exterior and interior design, as well as an innovative dashboard layout known as the Peugeot i-Cockpit that has been adopted by the 308, 2008 and, most recently, the 3008 as well. Peugeot's best-selling model, the 208 owes its success to a stylish exterior design, a quality interior, low running costs, as well as refined and frugal diesel engines. However, it's not the best supermini to drive (that honor belongs to the Ford Fiesta), the ride quality could be better, and the small steering wheel does not cater to everyone's taste.
PROS & CONS
- Stylish Design
- Low Running Costs
- Frugal Diesel Engines
- Luxurious Xy Trim
- 208 Gti Marks Peugeot's Return To Hot Hatch Greatness
- 208 1.6 Bluehdi 120
- 208 1.2 Vti 110
- 208 1.2 Vti 110
- Suspension Gets Unsettled Over Rough Surfaces
- Steering Wheel Is Too Small For Some Tastes
- Imprecise Gear Changes On Manual Models
- Not The Most Fun Supermini To Drive
- Poorly-Equipped Entry-Level Model
Stay Away From
- Entry-Level Model With 1.0 Vti Engine
Known Problems & Recalls
- Peugeot Recalled A Batch Of 208S Built Between September 2013 And November 2014 To Replace The Front Suspension Wishbone Mounting Bolts Because They Might Not Have Been Built To The Correct Specification. Owners Can Detect Broken Mounting Bolts Through Noises And Poor Steering Control
- Some Owners Have Complained Of Electrical Glitches, Particularly With The Infotainment System, Which Sometimes Reboots For No Apparent Reason
- The Peugeot 208 Has Rather Poor Reliability Scores In Surveys
Peugeot offers a vast engine lineup for the 208, including turbocharged gasoline and diesel units that provide a reasonable balance between fuel economy and performance. The three-cylinder 1.2-liter turbocharged gasoline unit with up to 110 PS (109 hp) is both efficient and reasonably quick, so we'd recommend it if you want a gasoline engine. As for the diesel units, the 120 PS (118 hp) 1.6-liter four-cylinder unit with a six-speed manual transmission is the pick of the range, thanks to its remarkably low fuel consumption and good performance. For those who want more, the 200 PS (197 hp) 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline in the 208 GTi is the answer.
The Peugeot 208 offers fine handling characteristics, but it can't quite match segment leaders like the Ford Fiesta or Renault Clio. It's also a very spec-sensitive car, which means handling varies from car to car depending on wheels and specification. Make the right choice and everything should be okay, though. Despite its small size, the 208 is mature and composed on the motorway. Overall, the 208's capable chassis offers loads of grip while the small steering wheel gives direct inputs. The Fiesta is more fun to drive on a twisty road, though.
Euro NCAP has assessed the Peugeot 208 in 2012 and has found it a very safe car. The French supermini's five-star overall rating breaks down as it follows: 88 percent protection for adult passengers, 78 percent for child occupants, 61 percent for pedestrians, and an 83 percent mark for safety assist systems. The 208 comes as standard with six airbags, Electronic Stability Control, speed assistance system, and Isofix child seat anchor points at the rear, among other things.
The Peugeot 208's suspension is comfortable most of the time, soaking up bumps nicely and offering a similar ride quality to the class leaders. However, at low speeds over rougher road surfaces the suspension feels unsettled. Noise levels are low for the segment, with little wind or road noise penetrating the cabin. Getting the right driving position can be difficult, though, because the lever adjustment for the backrest lacks finesse. Finally, although the i-Cockpit is designed to allow the driver to see the instrument dials above the small steering wheel, in practice that doesn't happen for drivers who prefer a higher position for the wheel.
When it comes to build quality, the Peugeot 208 has evolved significantly over the 207. The cabin is on par with the Ford Fiesta's as far as the materials and assembly quality is concerned but lags behind the Volkswagen Polo. Even basic models feature soft-touch plastics while higher trim levels get a leather-wrapped steering wheel. However, the harder plastics found lower down the dashboard are not nice. The 208 scores high for interior design, with the Peugeot i-Cockpit layout looking smarter than what the competition offers thanks to the lower number of buttons and the raised dials.
Peugeot builds the 208 both as a three-door and five-door hatchback. The latter version is more practical and can accommodate five adult passengers in decent conditions – however, three adults in the back will not be very comfortable during longer trips. The cabin features plenty of storage spaces, and the trunk is big for the class: 285 liters up to the parcel shelf and 1,152 liters with the rear seats folded down (by the way, they don't fold down completely flat). Both values are better than what the Fiesta and Polo offer, but the high load lip makes loading luggage a little harder than it should be.
Mid to higher trim levels offer a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system which looks high tech and is bigger than the Ford Fiesta's. Packing USB connectivity, a DAB digital radio and Bluetooth phone connectivity, the interface is usually easy to use and allows users to type postcodes directly into the satellite navigation system using the touch screen. Downsides include the scrolling sub-menus with fancy graphics that take some time to get used to as well as some of the primary controls that can be difficult to adjust on the move.
If fuel economy is essential to you, the 208 will make you happy, particularly if you get a diesel-powered model. The most fuel-efficient Peugeot 208 comes with the 75 PS (74 hp) 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbo diesel engine. It averages just 3 l/100 km (78.4 mpg US) and emits 79 g/km CO2. However, the 1.4-liter diesel engine isn't too far from these figures. The most economical gasoline engine variant is the 1.2 e-VTi which returns 4.1 l/100 km (57.4 mpg US) and emits 95 g/km CO2.
The entry-level Access model comes with a rather basic standard equipment that includes six airbags, ESP, cruise control with speed limiter, remote central locking, front power windows, tire pressure monitoring system, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, among other things. In some markets, the Access trim lacks manual air conditioning, which is rather embarrassing for a car made in the 21st century. If you want a decently-equipped 208, we recommend the Active trim level, which gets you a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, as well as a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, manual air conditioning, as well as electrically adjustable and heated lateral mirrors, among other things.
The Peugeot 208 is cheap to buy and run as long as you keep it simple with the specification – or if the previous owner did. The diesel units and the 1.2-liter turbocharged three-cylinder gasoline engine offer the best balance between fuel economy and performance. The 208 GTi is a good choice if you want a hot hatch, but it's not as fun to drive as the Ford Fiesta ST. Overall, the Peugeot 208 is a welcome improvement over the 207. It offers a stylish bodywork that offers impressive levels of space, with its other upsides including a varied engine lineup, a refined ride, and cheap running costs.