I’ve never driven the original Peugeot 208, and indeed for a period of three years there was very little I did drive, but I like to think I know what a good Peugeot should be. I own a 106 Gti and it’s larger brother, the 306 Gti-6. Both are excellent hot hatches, and probably the last of the really exciting Peugeots, bar the RCZ.
Peugeot has radically simplified the 208 range, with the facelifted car having only two models, the entry level $26,990 Active and the high spec $29,990 Allure, which is the car tested here.
The old 208 had a four-speed auto, which pretty well matches most of the competition, but that has changed with the arrival of the facelifted 208. Not only are there an extra couple of gear ratios, for a total of six, there’s also a new matt paint finish and a generally higher level of specification than before. There’s also a new engine, and this really cannot be understated – the Puretech 1.2 litre turbo three pot that lives under the bonnet of the new 208 is the cars characteristic feature. We’ve seen this engine before, in both Peugeot and Citroen vehicles. In the 208 it develops 81kW and 205Nm of torque.
That’s a seven kilowatt deficit under the previous 1.6 litre four cylinder, but it’s torque that makes a good engine and this tiny power plant has an additional 45Nm over the old engine, and it produces that torque at 1500rpm, which is barely twice the speed of the engine’s idle rpm. Peugeot says that’s good enough to wipe a second off the car’s 0-100km/h time, now at 10.9 seconds, but that number tends to undermine the 208’s real world performance. The torque flow is virtually uninterrupted when you are pushing hard on an open road. There’s so little turbo lag you don’t notice a slightly squishy accelerator pedal and the six-speed gearbox is more than willing to drop a few ratios on the exit of a tight bend.
But it wouldn’t be a French car if it didn’t have a quirky gearbox tune, as large throttle movements at town speeds can convince the gearbox that you really enjoy driving at 50km/h at 4000rpm without changing gear. You can prompt the gearbox to change up using the paddles behind the steering wheel, so that’s not such a great problem.
Fuel consumption has likewise been cut, with the new car sitting at 4.1L/100km on the combined cycle versus the old 4.9L/100km.
The previous 2098 was already a fairly good-looking car, and Peugeot has decided not to meddle too much with the look. At the rear there are new taillights – still the same shape but with different shaped elements in them, and the nose gains a new aggressive front grille and front bumper treatment, which gives the car some more character.
There’s also a new paint finish, as shown on this test car. It’s a matt satin finish and it’s available in a grey or silver colour for an extra $750. At the launch I thought the colours looked pretty good, but after living with the car after a week and enduring plenty of jokes about the paint not being finished I’m pretty lukewarm about the paint.
It is easy to clean though, as apparently all it requires is a wash with a cloth and water and all the road grime comes off. And before you ask, yes I did end up with a filthy car and easily cleaned it via the above procedure, so that’s one up for the paint finish. I would however go with the other new colour, which is a very bright orange red. It just seems to suit the car better.
On the inside there’s extra connectivity, with the (optional) ability to mirror your cell phone display on the car’s seven-inch central screen. Like the previous 208 and the 308 the driving
position uses Peugeot’s i-cockpit, where the steering wheel is tiny, and placed beneath your view of the instruments, which have correspondingly been raised on the dashboard. It takes some time to get used to it, but it does work well.
On this 208 Allure you get 16-inch alloys, dual zone aircon, sat nav and reversing camera. It’s a pity that the reversing camera is not available on the entry level Active, as it’s pretty essential these days. There are reverse parking sensors, but they are just not the same as a proper camera.
The facelifted 208 has more than a few attractions, including a decent number of ratios in the auto box and a brilliant engine. The availability of the matt paint is very much a personal choice, but at least in coming down from something like seven models to just two it has made choice of model much more simple.