26 July 2012 Last Updated: 28 October 2013

Full Peugeot 208 Hatchback (12 on) Model Review

by Gareth Evans

  • We test high spec Peugeot 208 ACTIVE 5dr
  • Comes with three-cylinder 1.2-litre petrol engine
  • Emits 104g/km CO2, returns combined 62.8mpg
Peugeot 208 Hatchback (12 on) 1.2 VTi Active 5d - Road Test
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.

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.

An all-new car, the 208 offers a range of efficient engines that promise low running costs and we’ve driven the Peugeot 208 Active 1.2 VTi 5dr to see how it measures up.

First, let’s talk about performance. This 208 has a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine which produces 82bhp and 118Nm of torque. That’s enough for a jaunt to 62mph in 14 seconds, with a top speed of 109mph. It’s a characterful engine, but has to be worked extremely hard in order to make real progress.

The five-speed manual gearbox also has a very long throw, which finds the driver having to stretch to find first and third gears.

Of course, excellent efficiency is to blame for the performance deficit. This car emits 104g/km of carbon dioxide, meaning road tax is payable at £20 per year, with nothing to pay in the first year. It’s a shame, however, that the car doesn’t dip under the 99g/km threshold which would afford it free road tax, free congestion charging and parking dispensations in many cities. You’d have to move down to the 1.0-litre engine for that, meaning an extra 1.9 seconds to 62mph.

Fuel economy on our car is a claimed 62.8mpg on the combined cycle, although our test team was seeing closer to 50mpg according to the trip computer over mixed driving.

Although the 208 is a fairly comfortable car on the open road, this one does roll around quite a lot in corners. It also lacks any kind of feedback through the steering wheel, although the wheel itself is very small which gives the car a bit of a ‘fun factor’.

Our car is in Active trim, which means on to of Access+ equipment – which includes electric windows, cruise control and air conditioning - you get 15-inch alloys, front fog lights, a multifunction touch-screen display, a USB connection point and Bluetooth connectivity.

The touch-screen display is an interesting bit of kit. Although you could say it looks a little bit of an afterthought by the interior design team, it has a smooth and stylish interface that's simple and intuitive to use.

One of the 208’s hallmarks is the dash design, whereby you look over the steering wheel to see the speedometer and rev counter rather than through it like a conventional car. It’s fine for average-sized adults, but getting a decent driving position for smaller drivers can prove a challenge.

In terms of practicality, the 208 will carry four adults but room in the back isn’t what you’d call generous. The five-door version we’ve been testing affords users a far more versatile platform than the three-door model, and if you can’t cram what you’re carrying into the 285-litre boot then there’s always the back seats for more cumbersome loads.

So if you’re in the market for a new small hatchback with fairly low running costs and a decent amount of kit, the Active version of the Peugeot 208 could be for you. It’s worth looking at, anyway.

You can read the full Peugeot 208 review here.

Also consider:

Ford Fiesta

The class-leading Fiesta has been a top seller for many years. It is fun to drive, well-built and looks good too.

Suzuki Swift

Suzuki’s Swift is a small hatchback that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s an engaging drive and cheap to run.

Kia Rio

The Rio benefits from Kia’s excellent seven-year warranty as well as efficient engines and distinctive styling.