18.2.2016Peugeot 208 1.2 PureTech review
Peugeot's 208 is one of the greenest superminis around, with a number of variants emitting less than 100 g/km CO2. The 208 tested is fitted with the latest version of the Peugeot-Citroen group's three-cylinder petrol engine which is one of the most efficient in its class, with excellent fuel economy and emissions figures. Having had a mild refresh both in terms of looks and under the skin, is the little Peugeot able to match up to the promise of its strong green credentials?
Review by Chris Lilly
The little 1.2 litre engine used in the 208 is hardly hot hatch material, but it's got more than enough power for most drivers. The 0-62mph sprint is completed in 9.8 seconds before heading on to a top speed of 121mph. To accelerate like that you will have to make full use of the quick-shifting EAT6 six-speed automatic gearbox which is very good for a low-powered small car. Normally this sort of set-up only works with a much more powerful model, but the 208's use of the new EAT6 gearbox suits it well and you will find yourself both letting it smoothly do its own thing, and taking over to shift up and down the cogs yourself. The engine, as the name suggests, puts out 110hp and a useful 151 lb ft of torque - which is ample for a car weighing in at just over one tonne. Let the turbo spool up and the 208 will pull away keenly, nipping out of junctions easily and keeping up with traffic on the motorway. Here it wil settle down a little but, having only three-cylinders, it doesn't feel as smooth as larger engines - still, that three-pot thrum while running about at lower speeds is a nice noise and keeps you entertained.
The 208 is a well balanced car - not too sporty and not too soft. This means that it's a bit of a jack-of-all-trades in terms of handling, which isn't the backhanded insult it could sound like. Running around normally, the 208 will do everything you expect a supermini to - dodging pot-holes, cresting speed bumps and circumnavigating roundabouts. On really rough roads the ride is a little harsh, but that does allow the 208 to be more refined on the motorway and offer an engaging drive on a twisting road. The handling is sharp and accurate, helped by the steering wheel's small size - a feature that some find odd but I personally love. It allows easy control in all conditions and proves particularly useful in urban areas.
The 208 is available in either three or five-door supermini form - and both are stylish and offer decent levels of practicality. The three-door looks a little sportier, but the extra set of doors, which the model tested had, doesn't compromise the car's looks as they do on some of the 208's rivals. As for practicality, the Peugeot will seat a couple of adults or three children in the rear, while leg and head room is about average for the sector. The boot is practical and of a good size, though the car's styling has created a slightly high boot lip. It doesn't excel in any particular area but the 208 has no weak points either.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
On the whole, the impression that the little Peugeot gives inside is very positive, with a large touchscreen from the Peugeot-Citroen Group dominating proceedings and offering an easy to use infotainment system. The style of the interior is nice too, with plenty of soft-touch materials and sweeping design features. It doesn't feel as well put together as a VW Polo for example, but there isn't anything that felt cheap or tacky. The gearstick on the automatic option featured a staggered gate and not entirely stylish gearknob - something a little out of keeping with the rest of the design which is full of Gallic flair. The small steering wheel means that the instruments sit in a binnacle on top of the dash, and you look over the wheel's rim to view them. It's different but it works well and keeps important information closer to the driver's eye-line while driving. The GT Line specification sees nice use of glossy black plastic with a red pin-stripe running through it, and makes the cabin feel quite up-market. Up front, the driver and passenger get a couple of comfortable and supportive chairs which will keep backs supported even over long distances, while switchgear is clear and easy to use.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
This section is a real 208 strength, with the model tested performing very well against its rivals - despite not being at the top of Peugeot's list of most efficient variants. The 1.2 litre engine, when fitted with the EAT6 automatic gearbox, will officially return 63 MPG - a figure I find fairly believable. On the week's run with it, I was achieving economy figures in the 52 MPG mark with a variety of driving styles used. Push the little engine hard and that figure drops quite significantly, but drive carefully and mid-high 50's statistics will be possible from the frugal 208. The emissions of 104 g/km CO2 for the test car would cost nothing to tax for the first year and just Â£20 per annum thereafter, sitting as it does in Band B. There are VED-free Band A models available in both petrol and diesel form, it's just the specification tested had an automatic gearbox which pushed the CO2 emissions up from the 99 g/km of the manual.
The three-cylinder 1.2 litre PureTech engine tested was fitted with auto Stop & Start to reduce fuel consumption and emissions when stationary. The use of clever turbocharging technology allows Peugeot to downsize the unit too, with savings in fuel use and emissions of around 18 per cent compared to the out-going four-cylinder 1.6 litre unit. Direct injection and lightweight materials help with the efficiency too. In fact, the engine is so good that it won the International Engine of the Year Award 2015 in the 1.0-1.4 litre category, beating a number of strong rivals including VW's 1.4 TSI. Connected to the engine is the EAT6 gearbox which has been designed to be quick shifting to reduce power loss mid-change. According to our calculations, the model tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 34.
Standard kit on all 208s includes air conditioning, Bluetooth and USB CD/radio, cruise control, electric front windows and electric and heated door mirrors. In GT Line spec, the 208 includes features such as 18-inch alloy wheels, GT Line styling, cornering assist fog lights, tinted rear windows, rear parking aid, 7-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system and DAB radio. Equipment is pretty good for the car's price, though not class leading. You don't feel short changed and there are novel features such as textured paint that you wont find on any other models in the class. In the supermini category, personalisation options can prove big business and the 208 does fairly well in this regard, with trim packs, alloy designs and numberous paint options available for buyers to choose from.
The 208's greatest strength is that it is a really efficient supermini, even when compared against some tough opposition. However, it looks more stylish than the greenest models from VW and Ford, especially in 'GTi-lite' GT Line trim. In this market, that's quite an important feature. It's not as well built as the Polo or as fun to drive as the Fiesta, but it's not far away from either and should definitely be considered for anyone in the market for this sort of car. Good levels of space and refinement, a fun handling set-up, and low running costs make the Peugoet 208 a contender in a crowded market.
Model tested: Peugeot 208 GT Line 1.2 PureTech 110 EAT6 S&S
Body-style: Five-door supermini
Engine / CO2: 1.2 litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol / 104 g/km
Trim grades: Access A/C, Active, Allure, GT Line, GTi
On-road price: From £11,845. Price as tested £17,845
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 Stars