- Car Reviews
- Peugeot
- 208 (2012-2019) Review
# Peugeot 208 (2012-2019) Review

Written by
Andrew Brady


1/6
1 / 6

- Launched: 2012
- Small hatch
- Petrol, diesel
## Quick overview
 Pros
- Attractive styling
- Very efficient engines
- Interior feels different
 Cons
- Doesn’t quite drive with old-school Peugeot magic
-space isn’t great
- You need to choose engines carefully: some are great, others less so
Overall verdict
On the inside
Driving
Cost to run
Prices and Specs
## Overall verdict
"The Peugeot 208 is an upmarket-looking small hatch that is really ageing well. It is interesting inside, practical and cheap to run, and is comfortably competent to drive. With second-hand prices now particularly good value, it’s a car that’s certainly worth checking out."

"Peugeot has delivered front-running small hatches for decades. The famous 205 was the star model in the 1980s, and the 206 proved very popular in the 1990s. It may slightly have lost its way with the 207, but by 2012, it was fully back on form with the 208. This is a car that looks great, is nice to sit in and delivers out on the road

The pretty and head-turning looks that made the 205 such a well-loved model were back. The 208 looked upmarket and classy, yet had a sporty air, too. There was more than the odd styling cue that referenced the legendary 205, including the shape of the rear pillar, complete with an inset panel that carried the legendary ‘GTI’ script on the sportiest version

There was nothing evolutionary about the interior, though. This was an entirely new layout based around a tiny steering wheel and instrument binnacle mounted up high. Peugeot christened it ‘i-Cockpit’ and it presented drivers with the unusual concept of looking at the instruments above the steering wheel, rather than peering at them through the wheel itself

The rest of the cabin was smartly finished with, rather like the exterior, nice attention to detail and some upmarket design details. It was designed around a centrally-mounted touchscreen, but not all cars actually had the screen, with the button-packed stereo looking a bit misplaced on cheaper models. You really do need the colour screen to get the best effect

Where the 208 couldn’t quite match the magic of the 205 was in the way it drives. It was neat and tidy, and rather good fun by class standards. But it wasn’t invigorating in the way a 205 was, and that tiny wheel promised a much more go-kart-like drive than was actually delivered. Ride quality also didn’t quite have the typical Gallic pliancy that used to characterise French cars

Peugeot 208 engines were surprisingly high-tech compared with the middling motors that went before. The 1.2-litre VTi engines had variable valve timing and were sweet-revving, while 1.6-litre VTi engines delivered more power. There were turbocharged range-toppers too, a 1.6-litre THP with either 156PS or, in the 208 GTI, 200PS. Diesel engines were strong, again in that regular Peugeot way, with the 1.6-litre e-HDi delivering effortless drive in either 92PS or 115PS guises

Even though this is a car built for the city, you’re better off sticking with a manual-gearbox 208. It may have a disappointingly sloppy shift, but the alternative is either a neck-jolting automated manual called ECG, or a lethargic regular automatic in 1.6 Puretech guise

The Peugeot 208 was updated in 2015. It didn’t need much, as it was such a pretty car anyway, although the neat LED front and rear lights are appealing. Revised engines were even better – 1.0-litre or 1.2-litre Puretech, and the choice 1.2-litre turbo Puretech that produced 110PS. Revised BlueHDi diesels were introduced too, some delivering record-breaking fuel economy

Today, the Peugeot 208 remains an appealing, attractive car that feels just a slight cut above the rest. It is practical, has generally proven to be reliable, and should be very cheap to run. With prices now getting very affordable for early cars, read on to find out what you need to know

If you're looking for the newer version, you need our Peugeot 208 (2020-) review

 Is the Peugeot 208 right for you?
The Peugeot 208 is a safe, solid choice. It feels that bit more special than something like a Vauxhall Corsa, with a dose more style and panache. It’s a car that’s ageing gracefully, and the early models certainly don’t look like eight-year-old motors, despite the impressive value for money they now deliver

Most of the engines are sound, particularly the later, post-facelift Puretech units. You’ll get decent miles per gallon plus OK performance and refinement. The diesels are particularly strong, as they are genuine fuel-sippers with plenty in reserve

The 208 also has that novel interior, which is far from mainstream. It will certainly feel weird at first, but many find that once they get used to it, they love the airy feel and, again, the still-modern appearance. Add in reasonable practicality and low running costs for the classy Peugeot’s appeal to be clear

 What’s the best Peugeot 208 model/engine to choose?
It’s a safe bet to go for a 1.2-litre engine: the 1.0-litre (and earlier 68PS 1.2-litre) is just a bit too light on pulling power, and the 1.6-litre non-turbo engine somehow disappoints (despite it being shared, randomly, with the Mini hatchback). If you’re going for a 1.6-litre, go for a THP version – ideally the fruity GTI, which has bags of grown up performance. There was an early 1.4-litre VTI too, which produced 95PS, and is a decent all-rounder – if not as economical as the 1.2-litre

Diesels are strong, just as they always have been with Peugeot. The post-facelift BlueHDi engines are exceedingly fuel-efficient and meet the very latest emissions standards. So you won’t be excluded from city centres any time soon

Entry-level trim is Access, and is just a bit too basic. You get air-con on Access+, but we prefer Active, which gets alloy wheels, the multifunction touchscreen and the all-important USB input to bring your smartphone life into your car. Allure is the fancy trim and, early on, Peugeot offered two decadent variants: Feline and XY. Then there’s the GTI, whose red-pinstriped appeal is obvious

 What other cars are similar to the Peugeot 208?
If we’re talking French hatchbacks, we naturally have to mention the classy Peugeot’s most feared rival, the Renault Clio. That’s a car with pretty styling and an upmarket air of its own. The Citroen C3 is the sister car to the 208, but only really an genuine alternative in the latest-generation guise, launched in 2017

Best-sellers include the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo, and the latter has its own sister models: the SEAT Ibiza and Skoda Fabia. The Honda Jazz is a roomy alternative, the Toyota Yaris has petrol/electric hybrid appeal, while the Mazda 2 is a sporty competitor to the Peugeot

## Comfort and design
"The 208’s elegant, well-proportioned exterior is supported by an interesting and distinctive interior design. The first thing you’ll notice is the tiny steering wheel, much smaller than in any rival, which is positioned nice and close to the driver. It stands proud of the instrument binnacle itself, which is located higher up on the dashboard within its own wide cowl. (In a neat touch, some 208 have an illuminated strip around the instrument binnacle, which looks great at night

The wheel feels odd at first. Italmost on yourand we guarantee the first thing you will do is try to raise it up so you can see the instruments through it. You won’t be able to: it’s a completely different layout where you stare at the dials above the wheel instead. Peugeot believes this creates a more open-plan interior and allows the design to be more sculptural and interesting

It's certainly that. The 208’s dashboard has flowing lines that give it a sense of multi-layered depth. It makes most of its rivals seem plain and boring, particularly as the stand-proud centre console shows off the central touchscreen so prominently. It’s still a layout that feels modern and contemporary, despite being launched more than eight years ago, which shows how forward-thinking the design was

The front seats are comfortable, particularly as you move up the range and get to enjoy nicely bolstered chairs. They’re particularly good in the 208 GTI. Even the steering wheel is good to hold, with a nice chunky design and gleaming Peugeot lion in the centre

 Quality and finish
Peugeot didn’t always have a great reputation for quality, but the classy-looking 208 shows how much it’s moved on. It looks smart from the outside, with smooth surfaces, some lovely metallic colours and, on posher variants, a particularly upmarket chrome finisher around the windows

Move inside and it doesn’t disappoint. The dashboard has an upmarket soft-touch upper surface, set off by some nice trim materials including piano black and polished chrome on some versions. Even the basic version gets piano black interior door pulls, polished door handles and a smart set of backlit instruments. None of the seat upholstery materials look downmarket either

You need to move up through the range to enjoy features such as leather steering wheels, while the basic stereo thatin place of the touchscreen looks poor quality. It is possible to pick out cheaper plastics lower down the dashboard, too. But generally, the 208 has a quality of finish that may surprise those who remember the packing crate-style interior of the rattly 205. It’s a genuinely smart-looking car

 Infotainment
All but base Access 208s feature a central colour touchscreen infotainment system. It isn’t the most responsive of screens, using more old-fashioned tech. But it’s still reasonably comprehensive, offering a basic form of smartphone control when you plug in your device, plus audio controls (DAB and Bluetooth are standard) and trip computer information. Sat-nav was an option

Good news for those purchasing a 2015-on 208: following the facelift, Apple CarPlay was standard, along with MirrorLink to pair with other brands of smartphone. It means that even if you don’t have sat-nav fitted, you should be able to access it via your mobile device

A colour reversing camera was also fitted to some 208s, again using the central touchscreen

 Space and practicality
The 208 feels grown up behind the wheel, thanks to its supportive seats. Once you’re used to the bizarre-at-first driving position, you realise the space opened up by the tiny steering wheel makes it feel airier and more open-plan. The steering wheel also has lots of adjustment, both up and down, and in and out. It’s thus a pity this is spoiled by pedals that are positioned much too close together. This means taller drivers have to move the seat too far back, or put up with adriving position that is further heightened by, yes, the tiny and low-set steering wheel

Passengers will feel comfortable, though. The dashboard is cut away and the side windows drop down low, giving a bright and panoramic view out to the sides. Even locating the door mirrors further back adds to the feeling of spaciousness: you get a view forwards through the little front quarterlights

space isn’t so great – particularly behind a taller driver, as they’ll have tothe seat backwards to compensate for the pedals, which are located too close. Overall, space is no better than average, and if those in the front won’t compromise, it’s decidedly tight and cosy back there. At least five-door models are a bit easier to get in and out of than the awkward three-doors – bear this in mind if fancy a 208 GTI as an everyday family car

The boot is a bit below average in terms of space, carrying 285 litres with the seats up. The load lip is also pretty high. With the rear seats folded, the boot extends to a more impressive 1,152 litres. The space is reasonably wide and the flat sides mean it’s a practical shape

## Handling and ride quality
"Small Peugeots used to be all about driver engagement. But things move on, and there’s certainly no way you could get away with selling a car as lively as the old 205 these days. The 208 is a much more mature and grown up performer, albeit with a little of the old Peugeot magic in places."

The suspension remains pleasingly roll-free through corners, even in more basic versions. It’s easy to thread along twisting roads as quickly as the smaller-sized engines will allow. This is great for maintaining momentum and extracting every last PS from the fuel-efficient motors

It’s athe steering doesn’t deliver more feedback, though. Yes, it’s very quick, darting from lock to lock with alacrity. But the action itself is disappointingly remote, which means you don’t quite have full confidence to exploit the speed of the system

As for ride quality, the 208 is set up to be a little sportier than, say, its sister car, the Citroen C3. You can tell this by the reduced amount of roll through bends, but also in the slightly firmer and more irritable ride quality. It seems to pick out surface knobbles a little too keenly, and has a decidedly pernickety edge on versions with larger alloy wheels

The salvation comes when the suspension is worked harder. There, you’ll discover the 208 has strength in depth, coping with challenging roads without throwing in the towel. It’s not as fluid and free-flowing as famous Peugeots of old, but it seems to have a bit more resilience than some small cars, which should see driver confidence

 Engines and gearboxes
We like Peugeot 208s with smaller engines. They are sweet and surprisingly willing cars, able to make the most of their somewhat meagre power outputs with free-spinning eagerness. OK, the very lowest-PS models are probably a stretch too far, so we’d perhaps avoid the 68PS 1.2-litre VTi and 1.0-litre Puretech

However, the 82PS 1.2-litre Puretech belies its so-so 0-62mph time with a charming energy that sees it happily driven in a vocally flat-out manner all day long without complaining. Better still is the turbocharged 1.2-litre Puretech 110, which has more pulling power lower down in the rev range, and even more smoothness and bite higher up. It’s a superb engine and really suits the 208 well. We prefer it to the earlier 1.4-litre VTI 95, although this is still worth considering if you want an early 208 with more poke

The non-turbo 1.6-litre motors are ill-suited to the 208. If you want a bigger engine and more power, make sure it’s a THP turbo. Or you could instead go for a diesel, which are rattlier, but still authentically French and so very easygoing. A 1.6 BlueHDi 100 motor feels like it could effortlessly drive all day long without pausing for breath – and so impressive is the fuel economy, it probably could do exactly that

The manual gearbox in the 208 is on the sloppy side. It’s an odd combination of lethargic heaviness and stodgy vagueness. It’s very French, but at least the clutch is light. And the alternative is far worse

The EAT6 automated manual gearbox will drive you to distraction. It seems to always change gear at the wrong moment, takes an age to snick into the next gear, and delivers a nodding-dog-style lack of smoothness that is anything but appealing. The alternative, a regular automatic paired with the 1.6-litre engine, feels dreary and unenthusiastic. You’ll be longing for the manual before the test-drive is complete

 Refinement and noise levels
Peugeot’s little petrol engines aren’t bad for refinement. They’re not exactly silent, but the noise they make isn’t too objectionable, and their characterful enthusiasm seems to suit the 208. The larger petrol engines drone more, although the THP turbo does have plentiful power. That means you don’t have to drive it particularly hard, which helps refinement

As expected, the diesels are clattery – it’s hard to conceal diesel noise in cars this small – but the later BlueHDi engines are noticeably better in this regard. And the diesels do cruise very well, thanks to their relaxed, tall gearing

The 208 isn’t class-leading in other respects for noise, with apparent road roar and wind rustle. It’s by no means disastrous, but again, it does remind occupants that this is a small car pretending to be a large one, rather than one that benefits from big car refinements

 Safety equipment
In 2012, the Peugeot 208 was awarded a full five-star crash safety score by independent test body, Euro NCAP. It scored 88 percent for adult occupant protection, 78 percent for child occupant safety, 61 percent for pedestrian safety and a notably impressive 83 percent for safety assist

The latter score was helped by the standard fitment of electronic stability control, and also a speed assistance system – Peugeot’s cruise control system offered, at the flick of a switch, a speed limiter that meant you could set a maximum speed and the car would not allow you to exceed it

There are no knee airbags in the 208, but it does offer front, side and curtain airbags – the latter extending to the rear seats as well. The front seats also have seatbelt pretensioners and load limiters

Isofix is standard on the outer rear seats, but not on the front passenger seat, and it lacks an airbag cut-off switch. Also, while there’s a seatbelt reminder for the front seats, the rear seats miss out on this

With the 2015 facelift, Peugeot introduced an optional safety kit that included an Active City Brake function. At speeds of up to 20mph, it would alert the driver about an obstacle ahead and, if he or she didn't react, automatically apply the brakes. Many used models have this fitted, and it’s a piece of safety equipment that’s worth looking out for

## MPG and fuel costs
"Excellent fuel economy is guaranteed in almost every 208. The tiny engines are the best, with official fuel economy of almost 66mpg from the 1.0 VTI and 63mpg from the 1.2 VTI. Of course, you won’t get this in everyday use, particularly if you’re working the engines hard, but it’s still a sign of the engines’ overall efficiency."

Another reason we like the Puretech 110 engine is its staggering official fuel economy of 65.7mpg. The trouble is, its sheer effervescence and punchy feel means you’re unlikely to show the restraint to get near this, but it’s still likely to prove a fuel-efficient motor

The diesels are excellent. The 1.6 BlueHDi 100 with start-stop was rated at 94.2mpg under the contemporary fuel economy tests. Again, this is unrealistic in everyday use, but it’s still certain to prove very efficient. Even the earlier 1.6 e-HDi 92 manages almost 80mpg

 Insurance groups and costs
Pick the right Peugeot 208 and you’ll enjoy impressively affordable insurance costs. A basic Access 1.0-litre comes in at group five, moving up to group six for the more desirable Access, and even 1.2-litre versions are in group eight. This helps keep insurance costs down for the cheapest 208

The diesels are a little more expensive, and there’s a surprising jump up to group 16 for the 1.6-litre e-HDI Active. We’re surprised to see a 1.6 BlueHDi 100 Allure weighing in at group 20, which is why you’re probably better off sticking with the sweeter petrol engines. Oh, and another word of warning: we love the 1.2-litre Puretech 110 engine, but in appealing GT Line trim, a group 18 insurance rating seems a bit too high for comfort

 VED car tax
Ultra-low CO2 emissions mean the Peugeot 208 is a cost-effective car in terms of VED (road tax). The lowest-power 68PS motors benefit from free tax, and even the popular 1.2-litre 82PS versions only cost £20 a year. Most of the diesels are free to tax, although the larger engines are pricier – the 1.6 VTI 120, for example, costs £150 a year (without offering that much extra power compared with the 1.2)

Although the 1.2 Puretech 110 will cost you a bit more in terms of insurance, you will save on VED. Its CO2 emissions of 103g/km mean a £20 annual tax bill, which should offset any extra costs in terms of insurance compared to the thirsty 1.6-litre 120. Remember, you’ll save on fuel bills, too

## How much should you be paying for a used Peugeot 208?
"We love how you can buy an early Peugeot 208 for less than £4,000. They will be 1.2-litre VTI cars, probably in base Active spec, although there’s the odd 1.4-litre VTI Allure thrown in there if you don’t mind higher miles (and higher fuel bills). These cars still look fresh and modern, and show why the 208 range is becoming an increasing appealing used car buy."

Up your budget to £5,000 and there’s plenty more choice from the pre-facelift model range, including some really well-equipped Allure and Feline models. This is also the point at which facelifted models come into reach. They’ll probably have higher mileage and will be entry-level 1.0-litre versions, but it’s still impressive that you can get into a refreshed 208 for so little

If you can afford £6,000 upwards, there’s a wide array of desirable facelifted 208 models on sale, including the choice 1.2-litre engine. It was a popular car, so there’s a broad choice of colours and trims: pick a five-door with the touchscreen display (for Apple CarPlay and smartphone MirrorLink), and you’ll have a bargain entry point into a car that still feels contemporary, but won’t lose you a fortune in depreciation over the next couple of years

 Trim levels and standard equipment
The basic 208 Access didn't even have alloy wheels, but did have cruise control and a speed limiter. Access+ trim added electric door mirrors and manual air-con, but Active is the preferred entry point: it has alloy wheels, a colour touchscreen, USB, Bluetooth, DAB and split-fold rear seats

Allure has LED running lights, larger 16-inch alloys, dark rear glass, climate control, leather steering wheel and auto lights and wipers. Posh Feline models have even larger 17-inch alloys, sat-nav, a panoramic glass roof and ambient lighting. Peugeot also offered an upmarket XY variant, which it intended to be a luxury alternative to the GTI, with sports seats, LED indicators and aLED instrument surround

Post-facelift, the appealing GT-Line grade was introduced. This has some of the features from the range-topping GTI, paired with a more economical range of engines. You can even get it in some of the bright post-facelift colours, such as vivid orange with lime green exterior accents. It’s worth noting that all 2015-on 208s have air-con and Bluetooth as standard

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