Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The lower-powered 1.2 three-cylinder petrol engine has enough get up and go to feel sprightly in and out of town. The diesel option offers 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 automatics.
Suspension and ride comfort
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 quality is below average 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 and Volkswagen Polo.
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 in corners.
The steering is too vague to provide much entertainment on faster, twistier roads, and sloppy body control means you have to wait for the car to flop left or right on its suspension in corners before it actually begins to turn. There’s none of the precision you'll enjoy in the Ford Fiesta.
Noise and vibration
At a cruise on the motorway, the 208 does a better job than most of keeping wind and road noise out. However, when the road begins to get bumpy, you can hear the suspension working away beneath you a little too much.
Of all the engine choices, the diesel is the noisiest. 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.