Peugeot 208: Goodbye

  • After four months, we bid the Pug farewell
  • It’s been a capable hatchback to live with
  • Not quite best in class, but still a talented car

The time has come for the 208 to leave the Parkers fold and I’ll be sad to see it go. It’s been a great companion over the last few months.

In its time with us it’s covered more than 3900 miles, and I never felt disappointed to climb into it whether I had a long motorway slog ahead or a quick trip to the supermarket.

For me, a big part of the car’s appeal was the attractive and modern feeling interior. It’s just a nice place to be, and the glass roof with blue lighting strips fitted to our car added a bit of atmosphere. The front sports seats looked great and felt very supportive too, although it’s worth mentioning that not all of my colleagues felt that they could find a comfortable driving position in the car.

As for the infamous miniaturised steering wheel, I rather like it and feel Peugeot should be applauded for having done something different. It’s a dicey design decision though, as it doesn’t suit everyone: if you’re considering a 208 you should spend as much time in the car as possible to see how well you get on with the unusual layout before making a decision.

The large touchscreen in the centre of the dash is such a big part of the interior that it’s pretty hard to ignore. Although its various menus and displays have been designed to keep distraction to a minimum, I’m sure I spent a little too long with my eyes on the screen rather than the road ahead at times but I found it straightforward and friendly to use.

It’s worth noting that the touchscreen on a similar 208 long-termer run by our sister title CAR magazine was afflicted by a frozen display several times and also had trouble with its music system, needing more than one trip to a Peugeot dealer to be sorted out.

Happily we didn’t have any problems with ours. Being able to hook up an mp3 player or memory stick to the screen was a welcome feature and the 208’s decent-sounding stereo was a big plus point on long journeys.

The 115bhp 1.6-litre e-HDi diesel engine’s ample pulling power lugged the 208 along nicely, no doubt aided by the car’s comparatively low weight. It’s a shame the six-speed manual gearbox had a bit of a clunky feel, as a nice precise shift like that of the Mazda 2, for example, would make the car more enjoyable to drive.

I still had plenty of fun driving the 208, however – even though it’s not quite as agile and involving as the class-best, it feels safe and stable on a twisty road and the small-scale steering wheel lends the car a sporty feel.

Incidentally, it also turns out the car has an extremely good turning circle despite our version’s 17-inch wheels – handy for someone who gets lost as much as I do.

Although I enjoyed my time with the car I may have been spoilt a bit: it was a top trim example worth more than £17,000, after all. I didn't have so much fun in a lower-spec Active trim 208 we tested recently, with a pricetag around £5,000 smaller. It was much cheaper but far less cheerful, with a more ordinary interior, lethargic performance from its little petrol engine and rather woolly handling - it felt like a different car.

When the 208 first arrived, we asked whether it could compete with the class best. After living with the car for four months, we’d suggest that overall it’s not quite up there with rivals such as the Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio, but nevertheless it’s well worth adding to your small hatchback shortlist.

Current mileage: 10,486 miles

Average mpg: 55.5

The 208 on the banking at a trip to the defunct Brooklands circuit