Peugot 208 - Wheels, etc

Can this stylish supermini tackle Peugeot's troubles?

Price: £12,795
Engine capacity: 1.2 litres
Power output (BHP@rpm): 82@5750
Top speed (mph): 109
0-62 mph (seconds): 14
Fuel economy (mpg): 62.8
CO2 emissions (g/km): 104g/km

Life is currently difficult for Peugeot, France's most famous carmaker.

A fortnight ago, the firm's financial troubles provided the basis for a minor diplomatic incident when a French minister told the automaker to cut jobs in Spain, rather than France. Those cuts are due to come on the lines that make Peugeot's smaller cars – including the 208 – which are currently running at around 60 per cent capacity, a shortfall resulting from European consumers' preference for cheaper Asian cars, or more premium German ones. Not to mention as Peugeot's traditional strength in the markets most threatened by the eurozone's financial trembles.

This shouldn't be a reflection on the 208, though. Indeed, as Peugeot slowly completes its 8-series line-up, it's producing some excellent cars. And a lot rides on this one.

For a mid-range brand, Peugeots have a history of being good-looking – from its glorious road bikes through to 1983's très French 205. But it's something that was lost in the last decade or so. When Jean-Pierre Ploué was appointed head of design at PSA (ie the entire Peugeot/Citroen group), he noted Peugeot hadn't made a beautiful car since 1996's Coupé (aka the 406). Recent models like the sumptuous 508 have changed that, and the work overseen by Gilles Vidal on the 208 confirms a dramatic stylistic shift.

From the outside, the 208 looks almost semi-elliptical in shape. It's tall enough to be practical but curves – from bumper to bumper – in a near-foetal position, hugging the road. Or in Vidal's words, it's like "a popular piece of music that touches the human soul regardless of culture". One wouldn't go quite that far, but it's a great look for a mass-market car regardless. I tested the five-door but the three is a more pleasing aesthetic proposition.

Inside, air-conditioning vents subconsciously mirror the grills on the front bumper. The cabin itself feels slick and simple – something accentuated by a small, nimble, steering wheel. A simple interior is the result of a number of controls being sublet to a seven-inch touchscreen which comes on all but the most basic model. It also encompasses the car's controls plus the usual media functions.

You can add sat-nav to it for £400, a price that makes a TomTom preferable but, such is the screen's predominance in the cabin, an independent device will look like clutter. The multimedia interface was baffling, too. I've driven higher-spec new Peugeots with excellent, intuitive systems, yet the 208's player struggled to get beyond my iPod's genre menu and it took 10 minutes of fiddling trying to get to the right track.

Space-wise, the 208 is excellent for a supermini. I used it over the weekend of my wedding and managed to fit all our nuptial swag in the 285-litre boot and on the backseats with ease.

So, the 208 delivers then. And, if the company can market and sell it effectively, it ought to compete with big-selling perennials like the Focus and the Polo. You'll be able to tell if they manage it by having a flick of the Financial Times around this time next year.

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

    £22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

    Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

    Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

    Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

    £70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

    Day In a Page

    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions
    Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

    Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

    Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
    General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

    All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

    The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
    How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

    How Etsy became a crafty little earner

    The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
    Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

    King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

    Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
    Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

    Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

    The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
    Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

    Don't fear the artichoke

    Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
    11 best men's socks

    11 best men's socks

    Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
    Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

    Paul Scholes column

    Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
    Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
    London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

    Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

    Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
    Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

    Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

    Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
    Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

    Khorasan is back in Syria

    America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
    General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

    On the campaign trail with Ukip

    Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
    Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

    Expect a rush on men's tights

    Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions