The Peugeot 208 has had a mid-life refresh, but the highlights are still the small steering wheel and the potential 83.1mpg economy from the 1.6 BlueHDi 100 diesel engine.
The latest generation of the Peugeot 208 was launched in 2012, but already we have a mid-life refresh, with styling revisions, personalisation options, and the latest Euro 6 compliant engines.
The exterior design of the 208 has had slight revisions, and the highlights of the interior are still the small steering wheel and the modern dash, with a touchscreen as a central feature.
One of the new features is the textured paint. This was applied to our test car, giving the appearance of a matt grey colour – with lime green highlights. It’s assumed that Peugeot knows its market and that this is what the market wants!
The 1.6-litre diesel engine is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. A car with the same engine achieved 141mpg over 1,337 miles, so it has the potential to be efficient.
The main feature that dominates the driving experience of the Peugeot 208 is the tiny steering wheel. This does help to create an extra fun factor – through novelty value if nothing else.
Peugeot decided that there’s not enough room to look through the steering wheel to the dials, so the dials have been positioned so that you look over the steering wheel to view them. The implications of this depend on a person’s size and driving position, but the chances are that most people will have some form of obscured view of the instrument cluster – in my case, the very bottom of the dials, as well as the trip information, are covered by the top of the steering wheel rim. You can still see most of the dials, but it’s just slightly annoying. The wheel also has thick spokes, so you can’t wrap your hands around the wheel as you would expect to do with a small sporty wheel.
The 208 is also a small, light car, so you can feel the potential for fun and agility. With a petrol engine, especially the GTi, this works. However the diesel engine in our test car is all about efficiency, so there’s not sufficient performance to make the most of the chassis.
The driving position may not be perfect for everyone, and the pedals are also very close together, perhaps suggesting that the target market for the car is not men with large feet.
Whilst the handling potential is compromised by the diesel engine, ride comfort is reasonable. The 100bhp engine is more about efficiency than setting your pants on fire, and there are sweeter shifting manual gearboxes around.
The official combined fuel economy of 83.1mpg – equating to 87g/km CO2 – sounds impressive, but regular Green Car Guide visitors will know what’s coming next – real-life economy always struggles to match such figures, and our average over a week of mixed driving fell well below this, to 56.4mpg. Our theory that good aerodynamics make the key difference in real life is once again supported by this result – short superminis aren’t the most aerodynamic vehicle shape.
The base price of the Peugeot 208 1.6 BlueHDi 100 Allure 5 dr is £17,045. Our test car had various options including ice silver colour with lime/yellow interior trim (£430); textured paint £645; lime/yellow personalisation interior trim pack (£350); alloy wheel upgrade (£100); and reversing camera (£200). So although the 208 is one of the more affordable superminis, this car is getting quite pricey.
There are different, and cheaper, trim levels, starting with Access, through Active and then Allure, to GT Line. There’s also a choice of petrol and diesel engines.
You want to like the Peugeot 208 – the company has made an effort to inject some driving fun with the small steering wheel, and the chassis feels like it has the potential to be playful. However this engine is designed for efficiency rather than fun, so the combination doesn’t bring out the best in the car.
We rate the Peugeot 308 HDI 120 very highly – it’s good to drive and the engine is flexible and efficient. Our advice would be to stretch to that car if lots of long journeys are to be undertaken, where the diesel engine will deliver effectively.
If your driving is primarily comprised of shorter journeys in urban areas, then by all means buy a 208, but a petrol engine probably suits the car better.
The Peugeot 208 1.6 BlueHDi 100 Allure gains a Green Car Guide rating of 7 out of 10.