First Drive: 2015 facelifted Peugeot 208

The concept of a facelift is a simple one – about halfway through a car’s life cycle a new look is adopted for the car by changing the plastic bits of the front and rear. It’s too expensive to actually alter the sheet metal, so a facelift is usually limited to new front and rear bumpers, lights and grille.

On this facelifted Peugeot 208 however, the concept of a facelift is taken to its logical extreme – only the front has been changed. Well, almost only the front, as the taillights have come in for a refresh but that is all round the back. At the front end however, the bumper is different, with sharper lines, and the grille is far more aggressive. This, along with the redone taillights is all that will tell you this is the facelifted 208, from the outside at least.

Under the bonnet there is a change as well. Instead of the old 1.6 litre four cylinder unit the ‘new’ 208 has the same engine as the larger 308, b208 engineeing a the Puretech 1.2 litre three cylinder turbo putting out 81kW. While that is seven kilowatts less than the old engine the new engine develops 45 more Newton-metres, for a total of 205Nm and a 0-100km/h one second faster than before. Also playing its part is the new six-speed gearbox, which replaces the old four-speed auto in the previous model.

The mix of willing three-pot engine and six-speed gearbox works well, and there’s plenty of power throughout the rev range, with a nice peak in torque at only 1500rpm. Fuel economy is improved too, with a claimed combined 4.1L/100km, compared to 4.9L/100km in the old car.

The ride is well controlled, with the car damping out large bumps in the road while allowing some agile handling. The sound is great too, a rorty growling from the front end that adds to the feeling of sportiness.

Inside the interior is done out in new trims, but is otherwise the same “i-cockpit” introduced in the previous car, with a small sporty steering whee208 dashl and high set instrument panel that lets you look over the steering wheel at the instrument panel rather than through the steering wheel.

The 208 range has been trimmed a little. While before nine different models were available, there are only two now, both powered by the Puretech 1.2 litre engine. The entry level Active comes in at NZ$26,990, while the higher spec Allure is priced at NZ$29,990. Both prices are NZ$1000 more than the equivalent 1.6 litre models these new ones replace.

Highlights of the new Active are 15 inch alloy wheels, manual air conditioning, tyre Pressure sensors, front and rear one touch electric windows, LED daytime running lights and LED light guide, seven-inch Smeg +1 touch screen, and Arkamys six speaker system with Bluetooth, USB and steering wheel mounted controls.

The Active adds 17-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights with cornering function, cruise control and speed limiter, climate control system, sat nav208 paint detail and reversing camera.

I couldn’t make too many conclusions about the electronic features fitted to the cars as the ones we drove on the launch were largely pre-productio
n spec and so didn’t necessarily have the complete suite of electronics on board.

One of the more interesting aspects of the facelifted 208 are three new paint colours
. The Power Orange is a pretty standard bright hue, but the Ice Grey and Ice Silver have a matt, slightly grainy surface that not only looks good but is claimed to be easier to keep clean. The Ice colours are yours for an extra $750.

Peugeot has done the right thing by rationalising the 208 range. Having a line up of small cars without a 208 reardiesel is not the problem it may otherwise seem as the Puretech engine fitted to the two models is as frugal as most diesel engines while providing a more refined and sporty driving experience.

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