Peugeot’s 208 supermini is all new and for the first time the front wheel drive five-door will come with three fuel choices: petrol, diesel or electricity. We’ve been testing all versions in Lisbon at the car’s international launch.
208’s brand new platform was designed specifically to house a ‘H’ configuration of rechargeable batteries under its floor. So whether you buy a petrol/diesel or electric 208 the car’s cabin and exterior is unaffected. New 208’s exterior is bigger, chunkier yet beautifully styled. From the bulging power bonnet, solid flanks with strong crease lines and sturdy rear tailgate – the car looks very muscular. The good new is that 208 is curvy enough to be disarming and cute at the same time. Peugeot’s signature lighting features front and rear and overall the outside remains compact yet looks so much more substantial than the last generation car. The new 208 is 30mm lower but substantially longer at 4055mm v 3962mm and its wider too at 1745mm v 1739mm.
Inside the cabin gets the latest iCockpit drivers display (now fitted to over 6m cars globally) plus a new Head-up 3D digital display on higher grades. The 3D seems like a gimmick but is quite functional to use – especially when you have the dials set to ‘Navigation’ display (Driver’s display options: Dials/Navigation/Driving/Minimal and Personal 1 and Personal 2). The new layout means there is little clutter and all switches are neat and tidy. The piano key switches we first experienced in 3008 make their way to 208 below the centre display. Depending on grade you can get single or dual function switches (with another touch switch for another function above the standard press-able one).
Up front the cabin is roomy but less so in the rear. Yes there is headroom for adults, four will fit with belts for five, but legroom is at a premium. Speaking of safety belts my non adjustable meant it occasionally tried to garrotte me just for sitting low down. The boot is small and loses some capacity down from 285 litres to 265 litres (up to the parcel shelf).
The big seller will be the petrol model in three 1.2 litre guises. The entry PureTech 75 generates just 75hp and 111nm of torque but works surprisingly well. 0-100km/h takes a pedestrian 14.9 seconds – but feels much brisker. The manual 5-speed 75 has a surprising amount of zip for a tiny three cylinder unit and 208’s one tonne low weight helps. The next up PureTech 100 with 100hp and 205nm, it is available in 6-speed manual or 8-speed auto (EAT8). It runs a little smoother than the 75 and a little more impressive at higher speed. 0-100km/h takes 10.9 seconds. The PureTech 130 has 130hp and 230nm that delivers warm hatch performance through its standard fit EAT8 automatic gearbox. 0-100km/h takes a healthy 8.7 seconds while its top speed is well above the legal limit. On the motorway the 130 cruised effortlessly. The lone 1.5 litre diesel, a 6-speed manual BlueHDi 100 delivers excellent fuel consumption and despite the demonisation of the fuel Peugeot insists there is still strong demand in Europe for the oil burner option. 100hp is on tap but more importantly 250nm of torque is available to help haul the car along. 0-100km/h takes an acceptable 11.4 seconds and fuel consumption should average 4.2 litres per 100km or 67mpg.
The most interesting 208 engine option is of course the electric powered e-208. We drove early pre-production models that were still a work in progress but the initial signs are very good. The car has blistering acceleration with 0-100km/h taking just 8.1 seconds and this partly explains why a petrol powered 208 GTI is not on the cards. 136hp and 260-300nm of torque is generated by the electric motor that drives the front wheels. The motor gets its electricity from a 50kWh battery pack. Range is quite good at up to 340km (WLTP). Recharging can be done using a type 2 AC cable with a CCS combo fast charger socket (mode 4 DC) standard. Drawing a 100kW charge 30 minutes will get you too 80% battery capacity.The e-208 pulls strongly and accelerates with real gusto. Under braking the car pitches forward a little but we’ll cut Peugeot some slack here as our test car was still in development. That said e-208 is around 300kgs heavier than its fossil fuel sibling at 1,455kgs. Peugeot says all power trains and fuel types will go on sale around the same time towards the end of this year. The e-208’s battery gets an 8 year/160,000km/minimum 70% (of original capacity) warranty.
The manual gearbox is not particularly nice to use and the lever feels a little sloppy but the gearbox you want is the EAT8 auto. It is s joy to use and makes life very easy behind the wheel. The suspension on our test cars was neither sporty or over comfortable. Large, great looking alloys on our Allure and GT Line high grade cars meant that on poor roads the ride comfort was not particularly impressive. On smooth motorway and urban roads the car’s suspension comfort felt more impressive. Drive modes feature – again depending on specification. Eco as you imagine dulls things down while normal is fine and sport is a bit of craic – especially in the auto in manual mode. Paddle shifters add to the fun with the EAT8. The 208 EV is a lot of fun. The auto gearbox has one forward gear and one reverse plus P (park) & N (neutral) settings with a ‘B mode’ that activates regenerative braking when you lift off the accelerator.
Driving aids like lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and speed sign recognition abound. It depends on how deep your pockets are as to how many you have on your 208. Irish pricing starts from €18,300 with the e-208 net of grants at €27,334 (plus delivery). The car goes on sale in late December. Active, Allure, GT Line and GT will be the grades available.