Peugeot 208: three doors good, five doors better?

  • Our three-door car meets its five-door twin
  • Both have the same engine and specification
  • Extra doors help with both access and visibility

We’ve recently been testing a Peugeot 208 in Feline trim with the 115bhp e-HDi diesel engine, which makes it pretty much identical to our long-termer. There’s one notable difference, though – an extra couple of doors.

‘Our’ 208, on the right in the main picture, is in three-door spec (which is car companies’ way of saying two actual doors and a hatchback tailgate). There’s a few hundred pounds difference in price between the three- and five-door 208 (the latter being the more expensive), and it’s interesting to drive them back to back.

When climbing into the five-door car, you’ll notice a key difference as soon as you open the driver’s door; the front doors themselves are naturally far shorter than those of the three door car, leaving you a little less space to clamber into the driving seat. On the other hand, getting in and out of tight parking spaces is far easier – the wider, heavier doors on the three-door car can be harder work.

The two cars have the same wheelbase and overall dimensions, and handling-wise you’ll be hard-pushed to feel any obvious differences between the two. There’s no difference in interior or boot space, either.

On an equipment level, the five-door car comes with part leather upholstery for the seats, while the three-door car makes do with a fabric and artificial leather combo. I’d argue that the ‘Eclipse Premium’ fabric sports seats in the three-door car actually look and feel a bit nicer than the proper leather ‘Black Ice’ items in the five-door, but beauty, eye, beholder and all that.

Both get the rest of the kit associated with Feline trim – a panoramic glass roof with blue lighting strips, 17-inch alloy wheels, colour-coded heated and electric mirrors, directional foglights which swivel with the steering, and a centre armrest.

Feline trim is now available for five-door cars only, however – the new range-topping trim for three-door versions is the slightly different XY trim which adds digital radio, sat-nav and a few altered bits of exterior and interior trim.

Leaving practicality aside, there’s no question that the three door car is more of a looker. As the main picture shows, its side window graphic is a completely different shape, with a more pronounced chrome strip running along its lower edge and ending in a little chrome tab, which the designers say is intended to echo the badges on the old 205 GTI.

Like many three-door cars, however, that prettier window shape has a negative impact on over-the-shoulder visibility which is, frankly, a bit rubbish. You’ll have a slightly easier time checking your blind spot and changing lanes in the five-door car thanks to its slimmer rear pillar.

The conclusion, then, is exactly as you’d expect. There’s no question that the five-door car is more usable, and if you regularly carry more than one passenger then naturally it’s the car to go for.  If not, however, the three-door car just looks and feels a little bit nicer – and so often in car ownership it’s the little things that count.

To read our review of the five-door Peugeot 208 1.6 e-HDi, click here.

Current mileage: 9,362 miles

Average mpg: 55.8