Peugeot 208 review

Category: Small car

The 208 small car majors on comfort, quiet cruising manners and a stylish interior 

Red Peugeot 208 front right driving
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  • Peugeot 208 interior dashboard
  • Peugeot 208 boot open
  • Peugeot 208 infotainment touchscreen
  • Red Peugeot 208 front right driving
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  • Red Peugeot 208 front right static
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  • Peugeot 208 interior front seats
  • Peugeot 208 interior back seats
  • Red Peugeot 208 front right driving
  • Red Peugeot 208 rear right driving
  • Peugeot 208 interior dashboard
  • Peugeot 208 boot open
  • Peugeot 208 infotainment touchscreen
  • Red Peugeot 208 front right driving
  • Red Peugeot 208 rear right driving
  • Red Peugeot 208 front right static
  • Red Peugeot 208 front static
  • Red Peugeot 208 left static
  • Red Peugeot 208 rear left static
  • Peugeot 208 interior front seats
  • Peugeot 208 interior back seats
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Introduction

What Car? says...

You can always rely on a French car maker to build a stylish small car. Whether it’s any good or not is another question entirely, but the current Peugeot 208 is one of the good ones.

Let's be clear: this is a completely different model to the first-generation 208. That's marvellous news, because the original wasn't very good, and struggled to compete with rivals such as the Seat Ibiza and VW Polo. This second-generation car presents much more of a challenge to them.

Better still, the current 208 doesn’t just stack up well against those mainstream rivals. The more expensive versions in the range are genuine alternatives to the premium badge-wearing Audi A1 with its impressive interior and comfortable ride.

It all sounds pretty good so far, but how do we rate the Peugeot 208 against the best small cars and, more importantly, should you buy one? Read on to find out...

Overview

The Peugeot 208 is one of the best small cars in the UK, and stands out for ride comfort, interior quality and hushed cruising manners, although it's not as much fun to drive as a Renault Clio. We recommend mid-spec Allure trim with the punchy and efficient 1.2 Puretech 100 engine, although there are also two regular hybrid engines available.

  • Very comfortable for a small car
  • Smart and high-quality interior
  • Punchy and frugal 1.2 Puretech 100 petrol engine
  • Steering wheel design can cause issues
  • So-so infotainment system
  • Rivals are more fun to drive
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

Unless you go for the all-electric Peugeot e-208 (which we've reviewed separately) you'll get either a petrol or hybrid petrol engine.

The cheapest is the 74bhp PureTech 75, but our pick of the range is the 99bhp PureTech 100, which is a relatively strong engine that pulls from low revs and feels gutsy if you work it harder. It's ideal for propelling you along A-roads and motorways without fuss, and is livelier than a Renault Clio or VW Polo with equivalent power. 

If you’re after efficiency, the 98bhp Hybrid 100 and 134bhp Hybrid 136 are great options. They allow you to drive on electricity alone for short distances, and have plenty of power to get you up to motorway speeds.

Suspension and ride comfort

The 208 scores well for comfort, offering a gentler and more supple ride than even an Audi A1 or Polo. Regardless of speed, the 208 is impressively smooth, and it’s most impressive on motorways, where it feels as comfortable as some larger cars.

The 208 has softer suspension than the Clio so there's more body bounce along undulating B-roads, but not in the wayward manner of a Citroën C3. Even nasty ridges and potholes don't cause too much discomfort.

Red Peugeot 208 rear right driving

Handling

While the 208's suspension softness makes it a cushy and comfy cruiser, it doesn’t lend itself to sportiness. There's more body lean through tight twists and turns than in an A1 or Seat Ibiza, and it's not as keen to switch from left to right.

The 208 has a tiny steering wheel that looks a bit go-kart like. It conveys a good amount of weight as you turn the wheel but feels a little artificial and elastic off-centre, which doesn’t give you a great sense of connection with the road.

Peugeot 208 image
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Once you’re used to it, it does the job, but if you want a small car that’s more engaging and fun to drive, you’ll want to try an A1 or Clio.

Noise and vibration

Relative to other small cars, this is an area of strength for the 208. Road noise is excellently suppressed even at speed, and there’s not much suspension noise as you trundle around town. At higher speeds, there's a bit of wind noise from around the windscreen pillars, but it's not intrusive.

Engine noise is controlled fairly well too. You’ll hear a bit of a thrum as you accelerate but that quickly fades into the background at motorway speeds. If you go for one of the hybrids, you'll enjoy much quieter electric-only driving for parts of your journey.

The 208's standard six-speed manual gearbox doesn’t quite have the pleasing mechanical precision of the equivalent in the Ibiza. The optional automatic gearbox suffers a little bit of a delay when you put your foot down, and doesn’t iron out its gear changes as smoothly as it could.

Driving overview

Strengths Very comfortable ride; Strong yet frugal and refined engines

Weaknesses Rivals are more dynamic; more road noise than in some rivals

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Driving position and dashboard

Unconventionally, you’re supposed to view the Peugeot 208's iCockpit digital instruments (the speedo, rev counter etc) by looking over, rather than through, the steering wheel. Peugeot has tried to make it easier by shrinking the steering wheel to the size of a dinner plate.

If you're long in the body or sit close to the wheel with the seat jacked up, you’ll probably think that's great. If not, you'll probably find that the steering wheel blocks your view of the instruments and you have to sit in an uncomfortable position to see the speed they're doing. It's something to check when you do a test drive.

Another big gripe is the 208's lack of physical buttons. For example, you have to use the touchscreen to adjust the interior temperature, which is distracting.

On a positive note, the seats are comfy with plenty of adjustment. Adjustable lumbar support is only available as an option on the top GT trim as part of a pack that adds Alcantara upholstery, heated seats and a massage function.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

Seeing out of the 208 could be easier. For a start, the windscreen pillars obscure more than in, say, a VW Polo. There are decent-sized door mirrors but the rear pillars and tapering roofline reduce the amount you can see over your shoulders.

Still, there is salvation in the form of standard rear parking sensors on all models, with front sensors added if you step up to mid-spec Allure trim and a rear-view camera added in top-spec GT cars. You can add front and rear cameras to Allure and GT trim as part of a parking pack.

Eco LED lights are standard across the range so you won’t struggle to see where you’re going at night. On the top trim, those are upgraded to full LEDs with Smart Beam Assist, so you can leave them on full beam without dazzling other drivers.

Peugeot 208 interior dashboard

Sat nav and infotainment

All 208s come with a 10.0in infotainment touchscreen. It's standard definition on entry-level Active trim and high definition on other trims. 

Neither is as high definition as the equivalent in a Seat Ibiza or Polo, and Peugeot's operating system isn't as intuitive to use. Fortunately, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come as standard so you can use your phone apps through the screen.

Quality

The 208’s interior is one of the most striking designs available in a small car – even including the premium Audi A1.

The use of high-end materials and soft-touch surfaces makes it feel upmarket, and if you go for GT trim you'll get some fancy ambient interior lighting.

The build quality largely matches the style, although a Mini feels even more sturdily screwed together.

Interior overview

Strengths Great and classy-feeling interior; good build quality; comfortable seats

Weaknesses Eccentric steering wheel design and position; few physical controls

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front space

Although it’s a small car, the Peugeot 208 has enough space in the front for even tall drivers. That said, the VW Polo and some other rivals offer more head room.

The 208 is narrower than the Polo from door to door but there's enough width for you and your front passenger to both rest your elbows on the central armrest comfortably.

Under the armrest there's a large cubby for your wallet, and storage space elsewhere is very good. You get sizeable door bins, trays and cup holders, plus a roomy glovebox.

Rear space

The 208 isn't the easiest car to get in and out of if you're an adult of reasonable stature because of its fairly narrow door openings. There's more room in the back for two people than in a Renault Clio, with just enough head and leg room for taller adults.

The Polo offers more rear space and the 208's optional Cielo glass roof reduces head room by quite a bit. Storage space includes a couple of small door bins and map pockets on the backs of the front seats.

Peugeot 208 boot open

Seat folding and flexibility

The rear seatbacks split and fold in a 60/40 arrangement as standard. That's par for the course in a small car but not as versatile as the more practical 40/20/40 arrangement you’ll find in a Mercedes A-Class.

If you need the added boot space often, you’ll want to turn your attention to the Honda Jazz. It has unique rear seats with a special folding mechanism that allows them to fold totally flat.

With GT trim, Peugeot adds a height-adjustable front passenger seat. You can't add passenger lumbar adjustment, which you can with the Polo and some other rivals.

Boot space

The 208 has a 311-litre boot, which is a decent size for the class. It's beaten for capacity by the Seat Ibiza and VW Polo, but there’s enough room for a few holiday bags. We managed to squeeze in five carry-on suitcases below the parcel shelf – the same number as in an Audi A1 and Renault Clio.

Annoyingly, the 208’s boot has a narrower opening than many rivals so it might not be as easy to squeeze in large items, and you can't have a height-adjustable boot floor.

Practicality overview

Strengths Good amount of rear space; plenty of boot space

Weaknesses Less front space than in a Renault Clio; narrow boot opening

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

The Peugeot 208 is an attractive prospect as a cash buy, with a brochure price that’s lower than for the Audi A1 and VW Polo, and only slightly higher than for a Skoda Fabia. The 208 is predicted to depreciate at the same rate as the Fabia so PCP finance rates should be competitive – you can check for offers on our new Peugeot deals page

Running costs are pretty good. In our real-world tests, the 1.2 PureTech 100 petrol managed 47.9mpg, which is more than similarly powerful engines in the Renault Clio and Polo. Of course, the hybrid versions should be even more efficient, but not by as much as you might think – officially, the 1.2 PureTech 100 manages 58.2mpg while the Hybrid 100 manages 65.9mpg.

If you’re chasing the lowest possible CO2 emissions to keep BIK tax down for your company car you'll find an electric car cheaper to run. To read about the fully electric version of the 208, see our Peugeot e-208 review.

Equipment, options and extras

Even the 208's cheapest trim level, Active, is quite well equipped, listing 16in alloy wheels, heated door mirrors, automatic lights, air conditioning and a leather steering wheel among its highlights. 

Allure trim is our pick, and adds dual-zone climate control, privacy glass, automatic wipers and power-folding door mirrors, as well as a 3D-style driver display and extra parking aids.

Top-spec GT adds 17in wheels, wireless phone-charging, keyless entry and start, and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

Peugeot 208 infotainment touchscreen

Reliability

Peugeot as a manufacturer finished a fairly underwhelming 21st out of 32 in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey. That's below Seat and Skoda but above Audi, Renault, Vauxhall and Volkswagen.

Every 208 gets a three-year warranty, consisting of two years of unlimited-mileage cover from the manufacturer and an additional year that's provided by Peugeot’s UK dealer network. Kia and Hyundai offer longer standard warranties, while Toyota’s 10-year/100,000-mile offering is unrivalled by everyone except Lexus.

Safety and security

The 208 was given four stars out of five when it was safety tested by Euro NCAP in 2019, while the Clio received the full five stars. If you drill into the details of the test, it's almost as good in most areas, such as chest protection and whiplash protection for those in the rear, but not as good at protecting people outside the vehicle.

All models come with a basic form of automatic emergency braking (AEB) as standard, but you'll have to go for GT trim to get a more advanced system that works at night and can recognise cyclists as well as pedestrians.

Traffic-sign recognition and a driver attention alert system are both standard on all versions, as is lane-keeping assistance. Blind-spot monitoring is only available as part of the optional parking pack on the top two trims.

Costs overview

Strengths Well priced; plenty of standard equipment; efficient engines

Weaknesses Reliability score could we better; mediocre safety rating


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FAQs

  • Yes – in fact, the 208 is one of the best small cars out there, standing out for ride comfort, interior quality and refinement.

  • As a cash purchase, the 208 will set you back less than an Audi A1 or VW Polo but slightly more than a Skoda Fabia. You can check the latest prices on our New Car Deals pages.

  • The Peugeot 208 sits within the small car category and measures about the same as the Renault Clio.

At a glance
New car deals
Save up to £6,688
Target Price from £17,900
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or from £195pm
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From £15,199
RRP price range £20,410 - £35,850
Number of trims (see all)4
Number of engines (see all)5
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)electric, petrol
MPG range across all versions 55.2 - 65.9
Available doors options 5
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £62 / £1,294
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £125 / £2,587
Available colours