Used Peugeot 208 hatchback 2012-2019 review

Category: Small car

Section: What is it like?

Peugeot 208
  • Peugeot 208
  • Peugeot 208
  • Peugeot 208
  • Peugeot 208
  • Peugeot 208
  • Peugeot 208
  • Peugeot 208
  • Peugeot 208
  • Peugeot 208
  • Peugeot 208

What's the used Peugeot 208 hatchback like?

Producing a small car has been a struggle for Peugeot in recent decades. Every one of its efforts has inevitably been compared with the 205, a high water mark the company hit in the early 1980s and which it seemed doomed to be unable to match.

But with the launch of the 208 in 2012 Peugeot seemed to recover a bit of its lost mojo. For starters, there’s the styling. The 208’s cute detailing, tidy curves and beaming face give it instant kerb appeal, arguably more so than rivals such as the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo. The effect continues inside, thanks to a clean-looking dashboard smattered with upmarket materials.

Want a bit more power from your 208, then Peugeot has three variants of the GTi, all using the same 205bhp, turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine. The standard 208 GTi is adorned with 17in alloys, a rear spoiler, chrome twin exhaust system and leather-clad sports seats, while opting for the GTi Prestige adds sat-nav, heated front seats and a panoramic sunroof. The final variant sees the Peugeot Sport division tweaking the 208, with it rolling on 18in wheels, with a wider front track, lower suspension, a Torsen differential, specific springs, dampers and wheel alignment set-up compared to the standard GTi, while inside there are Alcantara-covered sports seats.

However, if you are pining for something a little bit more exclusive, Peugeot has three limited edition trims to choose from. The Active Design model is based on the standard Active-trimmed 208 and adds front foglights, 16in alloy wheels and numerous exterior detail tweaks, while the Allure Premium is only available on five-door models and adds sat-nav, a reversing camera and a panoramic sunroof to the package. 

The most exclusive model is one that has a long-standing association with Peugeot - Roland Garros. This trim is only available on five-door models and comes with 16in alloy wheels, tinted rear windows, rear parking sensors, all round electric windows, cruise control and numerous orange details on the outside. Inside the orange theme continues but is joined by a panoramic sunroof and Peugeot's fully-loaded 7.0in touchscreen infotainment set-up.

That wheel is small because of Peugeot’s quirky interior design, which places the gauges above the wheel so that you look over its top, rather than through it, to see your speed. The problem is, this means shorter drivers will find the lower half of the gauges obliterated, while the dials themselves are tiddly and not that easy to read.

With that exception, front-seat occupants will be pretty happy with their lot. The dashboard looks and feels smart and the bits you touch feel like they’re built from high-quality plastics. There are some more suspect materials further down the dashboard, but on the whole, it’s a classy effort, and the front seats themselves are comfortable, offering plenty of space and lots of support.

Farther back, the picture isn’t so rosy. Both rear seat and boot space are merely average for the class, with several other used cars giving you more room to play with.

The 208 received a mild facelift in 2015 that brought tweaks to the styling to bring it up to date, a few changes to the specification and several notable updates to the engine range to reduce emissions. It was replaced by an all-new model, longer and lower and built on lighter underpinnings, in 2019.