What's the used Peugeot 208 hatchback like?
This second-generation Peugeot 208 is a big step up from the rather divisive original model, which certainly looked the part but couldn’t cut it on the road against some very strong rivals. This iteration, though, is a real competitor, thanks to its much-improved road manners and a range of impressively economical engines. Indeed, if you’re not fussy about a premium badge, the high-spec 208s even hold up well against such plush rivals as the Audi A1 and Mini.
Under its pert bonnet, the 1.2-litre petrol engines start with the 74bhp Puretech 75 and work their way up to the 99bhp Puretech 100 and the 127bhp Puretech 130. The 99bhp 1.5-litre BlueHDi 100 diesel could be a better pick for improved fuel economy if you cover a lot of miles. There’s also the e-208, a fully electric car with a 134bhp electric motor.
Trims on offer include Active, Allure, GT Line and GT (which is only available in the e-208). Even entry-level Active comes with 16in alloy wheels, a 7.0in touchscreen and rear parking sensors. Allure trim adds 17in wheels and a wireless phone charging pad. GT Line has front parking sensors and a rear-view camera. From Allure trim up, the 7.0in touchscreen could be upgraded from new to a 10.0in touchscreen, which comes as standard on the GT spec for the e-208. It’s worth looking out for any 208s with this larger display.
On the road, the Puretech 75 is a little weedy, whereas the Puretech 100 is probably all you'll need. It’s lively and gutsy when you work it, and it's absolutely ideal for propelling you along on A-roads and motorways without any fuss. The Puretech 130 is available only with an automatic gearbox and packs more punch than the Puretech 100 but does come at a higher price, even used. The 1.5 BlueHDi 100 has even more low-rev punch than the Puretech 100 petrol for more effortless performance.
When it comes to the twisties, the 208 isn't quite as sporty as the tiny, kart-like steering wheel would suggest and the steering doesn’t give you a great sense of connection to the road. It’s not as much fun to drive as the Ford Fiesta, for example.
The 208 has softer suspension than close rivals such as the Renault Clio, allowing it to glide along the motorway, feeling like a much bigger car than it is. However, it can be a little bouncy at times, although it deals with potholes well enough. There's some wind noise at higher speeds, but for the most part road noise is at a minimum. Visibility over the shoulder is reduced by the 208’s tapering roof and thick pillars, but the rear parking sensors help make up for the limited view out the back when reversing.
The display with the speedometer and rev counter has been designed to be seen from over the steering wheel, rather than through it. This won’t be a problem if you sit a bit higher in the seat or close to the steering wheel, but for many, it’ll block your view of the dials. If you can’t quite see it then you might have to move the steering wheel to an awkward position to keep an eye on how fast you’re going. We strongly recommend test-driving the 208 before committing to a driving position that might not suit you.
Inside, there’s plenty of room in the front. Alas, rear room is a little tighter than in the 208’s main rivals. The materials used make the interior feel upmarket and put it up there with premium small cars such as the Audi A1. The absence of physical buttons for most of the secondary controls means you have to go through the infotainment screen just to adjust things like the air-con temperature, though, and this can be distracting.