Peugeot 208 (2012 – 2019) Review
Peugeot 208 (2012 – 2019) At A Glance
The Peugeot 208 is one of the most stylish and interesting cars in the crowded small hatchback market. Launched in 2012, the 208 still looks fresh today, while the top trim models have a pleasingly upmarket feel. There’s a Peugeot 208 for everyone, from a frugal diesel to a GTI that rekindles memories of the iconic Peugeot 205 GTI. The design and layout of the cabin will frustrate and delight in equal measure, but there’s no doubt that the 208 is a chic and very French alternative to the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa.
Goodness, is that the time? It’s eight years since Peugeot launched the 208, replacing the lacklustre and dated 207. It still looks fresh today, helped in no small part by a facelift in 2015. It might not be as popular as the Ford Fiesta or Vauxhall Corsa, but there’s a lot to like about the Peugeot 208.
The styling is one thing. On the right alloy wheels and in a rich metallic colour, the 208 has a surprisingly upmarket look, enabling it to rub shoulders with some of the premium players. The good vibes continue on the inside, with a cabin that’s suitably different to its rivals.
Even today, the i-Cockpit divides opinion. Some love the small steering wheel and raised instrument panel, while others find it awkward and unappealing. It means that you look over the steering wheel, rather than peering at the dials through the wheel itself. It’s like a head-up display, albeit one that’s part of the dashboard architecture.
It’s a car that’s been built for two. The design of the cabin is such that the driver and front seat passenger feel like they’re in a spacious supermini. It’s too cramped in the rear, which is awkward to climb into in three-door models. There’s a reason why carmakers are turning their backs on three-door cars – five doors are more practical.
The boot is adequate for a car of this size, but a Skoda Fabia is more spacious. Alternatively, you could do what so many other buyers have done by opting for the roomier and more flexible Peugeot 2008. The crossover is based on the 208, but benefits from more interior space, a larger boot and a general feeling of getting more for your money.
Equipment levels are good if you avoid the entry-level versions, while the higher trim levels are positively lavish. Opt for the likes of the XY, Allure, Roland Garros and GT Line models for the best feelgood factor. Alternatively, choose the 208 GTI for some hot hatchback thrills. The 208 GTI by Peugeot Sport is a modern classic.
Elsewhere, the 208 is far from memorable to drive. It lacks the comfortable ride of, say, the Citroen C3, but also the precision and polish of the Ford Fiesta. It’s a shame that Peugeot didn’t focus on ride comfort, because this could have been a small luxury car, especially the higher trim levels.
It’s not all bad news. A 208 with a small turbocharged petrol engine is light and agile in the city, while a car with a diesel engine feels grown-up and efficient on a motorway. There’s a 208 to suit most needs, so you’re sure to find something that suits you. Best of all, good examples start from around £3,000, but we’d recommend buying a post-facelift model.
Looking for the latest version? You'll want our Peugeot 208 (2022) Review.