Peugeot 208 1.6 VTi 120bhp

By Tim Saunders

For this week’s road test we visit tranquil and picturesque Brittany en France.

 

I am testing the all-new Peugeot 208, the replacement to the popular 207.

In a world that is full of bland and characterless hatchbacks Peugeot has a tough job to make its offering suitably different and importantly, better than the class beating Ford Fiesta.

The new 208 is 7cm smaller than its predecessor yet there’s 5cm more legroom for rear occupants. Add to which the 1.6-litre VTi Allure petrol model tested returns up to a decent 47mpg. This means that it travels 600 miles on its 50 litre fuel tank.

At first glance it’s a striking model that looks and feels much more fashionable and appealing than its predecessor demanding lustful glances from other motorists, pedestrians and children alike. It shares the same wheelbase with the 207 but it is over 100kg lighter thanks to a wise choice of materials including aluminium.

Prior to the test I had foolishly read an Autocar review of this new model, which threatened to prejudice my opinion even before I sat inside. But I am happy to report that my independent mind remained intact. Despite that publication highlighting a poor gearbox, performance and noisy engine on the 1.2-litre model, admittedly, the 1.6-litre is a joy to drive through St Malo, Dinan and Dinard and prior to that it coped with the Brittany Ferries crossing with ease; its alarm not going off once unlike the Mercedes next to it. Yes, the five-speed gearbox is a little clunky but it’s certainly decisive. The best part of this vehicle for me are the excellent front bucket seats (you’ll see them in the video on testdrives.biz), which prove to be brilliant long-distance companions ensuring that we arrive at Domain des Ormes, our holiday destination in Dol de Bretagne, very much relaxed. I find the power steering a little too sensitive and light for my liking. But it has a tight turning circle, experienced when needing to double back on myself at a mini roundabout. Its dashboard has been thoughtfully designed so that it does not intrude on the front passenger, allowing for plenty of legroom. The powerful radio even picks up BBC Radio 4 in Dinard and French radio on our return home.

My wife, baby daughter and I carry a fair bit of luggage and the Pug is full to bursting. Three sizeable suitcases are crammed into the boot and there is space for the pushchair on top if all the wheels are removed.

According to Autocar this Slovakia-built Peugeot is not polished enough but, and whether this is because I am privileged enough to be driving a range topping model, I am impressed with the styling, the chrome around the grille and windows and its distinctive look not to mention the high quality interior. The air conditioning is a welcome feature when it hits 30 degrees Celcius on our final day together.

Parkers, the car experts, say: “The Peugeot 208 is an all-new car that aims to rekindle some of the affection buyers felt for arguably the French firm’s most revered model: the 205.”

It is surprising that there aren’t electric rear windows but nevertheless the new 208 is one of my favourite small cars, easy to park yet a capable motorway cruiser.

New price range: £9,995 - £18,495

 

Model tested: £15,000 approx

Peugeot 208 Hatchback 1.6 VTi Allure 5d

 

Economy: 47 mpg

 

Power: 120bhp

0-60mph: 10.9secs

Top speed: 118mph

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