Peugeot 208 hatchback performance
The entry-level 1.0 three-cylinder engine is the cheapest way into a 208, but we’d avoid it. It runs out of puff quickly, so you find yourself having to change up and down the gears a lot.
The lowered-powered 1.2 three-cylinder engine is a far better bet. It has enough get up and go to feel sprightly in and out of town. There are three diesels that offer more low-down pull, but we think the cheaper 1.2 petrols will suit most people.
The quick GTi models use a turbocharged 1.6 petrol. It’s impressively strong once its turbo gets going, but, obviously, the downside is higher running costs.
The 1.2 Puretech 82 and 110 are both available with an automatic gearbox. It isn’t great in the grand scheme of things, dithering a little when pulling away, but nonetheless it’s one of the better small-car autos.
Peugeot 208 hatchback ride
The 208’s wheel sizes range from 15in steel wheels on the entry-level car to 18in alloys on the GTi versions. Unfortunately, the ride is uncomfortable on even the smallest rims, and it only gets worse with larger ones fitted. At low speeds typical UK road surface scars send shudders through the 208 to jostle those onboard. Matters improve at higher speeds, although the 208 still isn’t a patch on the best-riding small cars, such as the Ford Fiesta.
Peugeot 208 hatchback handling
At town speeds the 208’s light steering is great for tight manoeuvring and parking in awkward spaces. Speed up and its steering feels relatively quick, but there’s never any sense of what the front wheels are actually going through.
When the road gets twisty, there isn’t much urgency from the 208’s front end, either. The steering is too vague and the sloppy body control means you have to wait for the car to flop over in corners before it actually begins to turn. There’s none of the precision of a Ford Fiesta.
Peugeot 208 hatchback refinement
At a cruise on the motorway, the 208 does a better job than most of keeping wind and road noise outside of the cabin. However, when the road begins to get bumpy, you can hear the suspension working away beneath you a little too much.
Of the engines, the diesels are the noisiest – all three emit quite a bit of noise and vibration under heavy loads. The 1.0 petrol is bad for this, too. While not perfect, the 1.2 three-cylinder units are the most refined of the bunch. All 208s suffer quite an imprecise, notchy gearshift, though.