Peugeot’s all-new 208 shows off the company’s new philosophy of a streamlined, downsized and affordable range.
Peugeot 208 1.2 VTI Active reviewed by David TaylorWe’re all well-aware the French car making-trio Peugeot, Citroen and Renault aren’t having the best of luck financially especially in the European market. Peugeot especially relies on sales of its smaller city cars and this is why the Peugeot 208 has to be a very good offering. The French at Peugeot are pitching their 208 directly into one of the most hotly-contested markets in South Africa, the B-segment.
From first impressions, the Peugeot 208 has a distinct girly look about it – a fact confirmed by the number of girls who admired the car. It’s not a problem at all and it follows on from the classic 206 and 207. These cars are meant to be fashionable runabouts, which are designed to navigate the narrow, cobbled backstreets of a Parisian suburb, which brings me to my next point. Upon delivery I was quite surprised at how small the Peugeot 208 is. A quick glance online at one of the many car data websites confirmed the new version is 7cm shorter than the 207.
The Peugeot 208 interior
Being a taller than usual guy, I was a little worried I wouldn’t fit. Thankfully, I’m glad I was wrong and the new Peugeot 208 is actually quite spacious inside. Even with three passengers, at no point did I feel cramped. Massive kudos to Peugeot for accomplishing this near-impossible task! Then I worked out that the boot space must have been compromised as a result of the interior spaciousness, and again I was wrong. The Peugeot 208 features a boot, which can hold a useful 331L worth of stuff.
I was driving the 1.2 VTI Active version which is powered by a naturally-aspirated 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine with 60kW and 118Nm. It may sound small and slow, but when you consider the 208 tips the scales at 970-odd kg, it suddenly seems okay. The added bonus of this small engine is you don’t get nailed at the fuel pump. Peugeot claims a combined figure of 4.5L/100km and I was seeing 5.9L/100km which I blame on the fun, zesty nature and addictive sound. For those who don’t know, a three-cylinder motor has a delicious little growl to it. Some have even suggested it sounds like a Porsche 911…
Performance is okay. It’s not the fastest little thing around, nor does it intend to be. If you want a fast Peugeot, the 208 GTI is on its way to our shores in the near future. I discovered the Peugeot 208 suddenly becomes quite fun especially in town where it thinks it’s a go-kart. I blame the go-kart tendencies on the smaller than usual steering wheel. It is rather good fun, especially when you’re charging through traffic circles and best of all, you can push hard and fuel consumption doesn’t become unreasonable. Drive like this in a turbocharged hot hatch and the consumption figure almost doubles.
This particular Active model has quite a few comfort features, which give it a bit of an edge over the competition. There’s an LCD screen which acts as an interface for the radio, USB, Bluetooth phone controls; there are steering wheel-mounted controls for cruise control and radio, folding mirrors, trip computer and a number of safety features. The audio system is a little complicated, but when you take the time to learn how it works, it’s rather smart. You may be buying a budget car, but that’s no excuse not to have all the safety features like four airbags and ABS.
The Peugeot 208 1.2 - ConclusionAs good as the specification level and space inside the Peugeot 208 is, this Peugeot is going up against some tough competition from established rivals. Yes, it is good, but there are products which will be chosen purely on badge preference and after-sales service. Despite the hard work done here by the French, the old curse of servicing and resale will haunt them, which is a shame as the list price includes a 3-year/100 000km warranty and a 5-year/60 000km service plan. That said, the Peugeot 208 offers a stylish, comfortable alternative to the masses and for me, the fact you’re driving something which has a personality is what makes this little car rather good.
Peugeot 208 - PricePeugeot 208 1.2 VTI Active - R169 900
- Why you should: fun to drive, bursting with character, zippy engine, light on fuel, good specification.
- Why you shouldn’t: Feminine design, stiff competition in this segment, French resale and servicing curse may hurt in the long run.
- It would be better if: the driving position was altered slightly. Despite my best efforts the top of the steering wheel blocks the digital speedometer. It should be perfect if you’re not 6ft tall!
- View the Peugeot 208: New / Used
- Competitors worth checking out: Toyota Yaris, Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo, Renault Clio, Kia Rio, Hyundai i20, Chevrolet Sonic, Mazda2, Opel Corsa, Citroen C3.