Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
Aside from the fully electric e208 model, there are four 208 engines to choose from: three 1.2-litre petrol engines with different power outputs and one diesel engine.
The cheapest petrol engine is the 74bhp Puretech 75, but it’s not worth choosing over the 99bhp Puretech 100, which is our pick of the range. It’s a zingy unit that picks up nicely from low revs and manages motorway miles without fuss. The 127bhp Puretech 130 (available only with an automatic gearbox) adds more pace, but it costs more to buy and run. For most, the Puretech 100’s pace will be sufficient, unless you expect to spend a lot of your time on the motorway.
If the latter’s your plan, it could be worth considering the diesel engine for fuel economy reasons. With 99bhp, it’s a fine performer, but we still prefer the petrols. Overall, the pace on offer across the 208 line-up is broadly similar to that delivered by equivalent engines in the Fiesta, Polo and Ibiza ranges.
Suspension and ride comfort
On undulating B-roads, the 208 feels well tied down, while stability at motorway speeds is good. However, the ride is on the firm side, and at lower speeds around town it grows quite tiring. It certainly isn’t as composed as that of the Polo, which we regard as the best-riding car in this class.
The best thing about the 208’s steering is that it’s light enough around town that parking manoeuvres aren’t a strain. Unfortunately, while it gains some weight at speed (which is when you need it), it does so in an artificial-feeling way that doesn’t inspire confidence. On top of that, while it’s direct and accurate, it doesn’t self-centre with the slickness of the Ibiza’s.
Steering quibbles aside, the 208 feels agile but isn’t as satisfying to thread through a series of corners as a Fiesta or Ibiza.
Noise and vibration
The engines are impressively hushed and, at motorway speeds, the peace is disturbed only by a bit of wind noise from around the windscreen pillars.
The six-speed manual gearbox is fine but doesn’t have the pleasing slickness of equivalent ’boxes in the Fiesta and Ibiza. The automatic, meanwhile, shifts smoothly and doesn’t irritate at low speeds. However, if you ask for lots of power to accelerate sharply from a standstill, you’ll find it a little hesitant.