With my 10 year-old Peugeot 307 in the garage attempting to get a fresh MoT, I borrowed the keys to the What Car? 208 and inevitably wondered if it would inspire me to trade my 150,000 miler for something with a shinier lion badge on the bonnet.
If I do, it won’t be a 208 unfortunately. Why?
Where shall I start? Even after over 100 miles of driving I couldn’t get the balance of clutch and accelerator quite right and I tired of the revs suddenly shooting up after I’d struggled to make a modest getaway.
There wasn’t enough oomph at higher speeds to make overtaking a comfortable exercise and the ride/handling wasn’t exactly confidence inspiring when pressing on.
On the plus side though, the interior finish was impressive so at least there were a variety of tactile surfaces to touch while sitting at the traffic lights dreading the next attempt to pull away.
By Martin Port
Week ending August 23
Driven this week 145 miles
I borrowed the pretty Peugeot 208 to drive myself and photographer Pete up to a What Car? personal shopping interview and photoshoot in the Midlands this week.
The 208 wasn't my first choice given its size but the boot proved mercifully big enough for Pete's camera, tripods, lights and car cleaning kit, without having to bother to drop the seats.
Once we got going, the 208 was comfortable and smooth, with more than enough cruising power. The sat nav was spot-on, too – even without full postcode input.
What let down this car for me was its performance around town. Woolly gearchanges and a ridiculously high biting clutch made driving feel frenzied, especially starting up in first gear.
It's such a shame because in most other respects I really like the 208. It certainly fitted in nicely with the sassy line-up of cars we were shooting with reader Laura: a Fiat 500, Vauxhall Adam and VW Up.
Her head was almost turned by the Pug's chic looks but you can find out what she actually went for in the December issue of What Car? when it goes on sale in October.
By Emma Butcher
Week ending August 16
Driven this week 140 miles
One thing that consistently impresses me when I get back into the Peugeot 208 after having been in other cars is the quality of the materials on display.
Every single surface that you touch on an average journey feels lovely, from the leather steering wheel to the solid plastics on the door grab handles and the chrome-effect details on the gear lever, it all feels fantastic.
Often, though, car manufacturers have put all their time and effort into these areas that you come into contact with most often and ignore the bits you rarely touch, like the pillars by the windscreen or the lower parts of the door.
However, in the 208 this isn't the case at all. Sure, Peugeot hasn't gone for quite the same level of tactility on these lesser touched surfaces, but the plastics still feel a real step above what you tend to find at the extremities of such an affordable car's cabin and it is wonderful to see.
By Tom Webster
Week ending August 9
Driven this week 102 miles
I've found myself suddenly confronted by a group of friends all wanting a lift at the same time on a couple of occasions recently. On the first occasion it was after a fives tournament, while the second was at the end of a cricket match and both times I was in the Peugeot 208 – not the first car I'd pick for transporting a group of large sweaty 'athletes'.
However, once they'd squeezed in past the seats, there seemed to be few complaints from the back. There was some grumbling about legroom, but only from the passenger sat behind me – if I was shorter then it would have been less of a problem.
Head and shoulder room was never going to be plentiful given the size of the three back-seat occupants, but it seemed bearable. The only real issue was squeezing into the back, as the front seats don't slide that far forward.
Given that I only ever anticipated that the seats would be used on an occasional basis, this doesn't bother me much. Equally, I'd rather there was a slight moan about getting in and then nothing more while I am acting as a taxi service.
By Tom Webster
Week ending August 2
Driven this week 112 miles
While sat idly in one of the many traffic jams I encounter on my daily trek through South London traffic I discovered something odd about the Peugeot 208's cabin.
I was leaning my arm against the door and reached up to feel for a grab handle and grasped at nothing. Fair enough, not all cars have a handle on the driver's side.
To kill a few more seconds before the lights on the South Circular turned green I glanced over to the passenger side and was surprised to see there wasn't one there either.
This is not a problem, but it struck me as strange. I wondered whether any other manufacturers have done away with something that I considered a staple of modern car interiors so I did a quick survey of the other cars parked outside What Car? HQ.
It turned out that all of the other cars out there (with permanent roofs) had a handle above the passenger door, and all bar the Dacia Sandero, the Renault Captur and the VW Up had either a handle or a glasses holder above the driver's door.
I'd like to think it says something about the smoothness of my cornering that it has taken me 10 months to notice the lack of handle and none of my passengers have said anything in that time. Peugeot says that they were removed to save a little weight (on the every little bit helps basis) and because the handles on the doors themselves are plenty should someone wish to brace themselves.
By Tom Webster