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 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 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 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 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.
The cheapest way into a 208 but we’d probably avoid it unless you’re keeping to a strict budget. It runs out of puff more quickly than the 1.2 three-cylinder, and makes more noise when it’s being pushed hard.
Our pick 1.2 Puretech 82
Makes the most sense for private buyers. It has enough get up and go for out of town work, but keeps the price lower than the more powerful Puretech 1.2. Fuel economy and emissions remain respectable.
1.2 Puretech 110
Has more than enough power and torque for town and country work, but we’d stick to the cheaper Puretech 82 as you’ll save cash buying and running it, and won’t notice a massive difference in performance.
1.6 THP 208
Reserved for the range-topping GTi, this 1.6 feels extremely strong in a car as light as the 208. Suffers a little turbo lag, but revs smoothly and makes the right noises for the performance buyer.
1.6 BlueHDi 75
Equipped with start-stop technology, this 74bhp diesel has the lowest CO2 emissions of the range. Subsequently, we’d recommend those buying a 208 through take have it at the top of their shopping list.
1.6 BlueHDi 100
Has more low-down punch than the lesser BlueHDi 75, meaning you’re not constantly working away at the gear lever to find its sweet spot. As with all the diesel engines, though, it makes a bit of racket when accelerating hard.
1.6 BlueHDi 120
With the BlueHDi 75 being much cleaner and the 100 being cheaper and not much slower, this range-topping diesel doesn’t really make a lot of sense. It’s still clean and frugal, and is ultimately the quickest diesel option, but we’d save our money and buy further down the range.