Peugeot 208: Return to Chic

 IMG_8105_resize Peugeot’s 2-series has always been known for its fun character, aimed at the young and young at heart. It was also a symbolic series, with its roots dating back to the late 20’s. The 2-series naming convention started in 1929 when Peugeot used a “0” to christen their cars with 3-digit monikers.

From the Peugeot 201 through the current 208, the naming convention has been standardized for all mass production Peugeots; including other variants. To older Citizens, perhaps their first encounter with the Lion brand started with the swanky 204 which was produced between 1965 to 1976, then came the 304, 404 and 504.

Peugeot 208: Attitude

Peugeot 208: Zippy and chic

Ok, enough old school talk. Let’s move on to the present. Some 84 years and 7 iterations have passed between the first 201 and the current 208. In modern car terms, that’s a very long variant life span, so if you do decide to get a 208, rest assured it would remain current a lot longer than your usual Japanese/Korean runabouts. The beautifully sculptured front end emanates a youthful presence reminiscent of a lion cub, raring to go and explore the world. The short bonnet is accentuated with aggressive lines and swoops down, beckoning your eyes to admire the signature Peugeot floating grille, while its “eyes” give off that menacing, take no prisoners demeanor.

IMG_8103_resize Peugeot 208: rear profile Peugeot 208: boot space

For many bread and butter cars in the market, a lot of emphasis is placed on the front and rear designs, with little imagination given to its side profile. Not so with this compact. Its side stance continues to create a strong impression that started from the front, taking that aggressiveness all the way to the back. The doors have two prominent angular lines running along the sides, with the lower line starting from the front fender all the way to the rear arch. The C-pillar sweeps downwards with muscular curves, adding coherence to the sides and front. From an abstract point of view, the side profile of the 208 reminds me of a lion crouched on all fours and ready to pounce. What a view indeed. As far as the rear is concerned, the 208 is one of the most attractive Pugs in this respect, looking sporty and in tandem with the design language throughout the exterior. Certain Pugs (regardless of segment) tended to look “small” when viewed directly from the rear, but not so for this sexy hatch. The rear combination lamps, boot line, rear windscreen and bumper, everything seems to be just right and well-proportioned in relation to one another. In other words, the parts come together beautifully with no one element overpowering another. Same goes for the front, which to me is the most attractive interpretation of the Peugeot corporate identity as yet.

Peugeot 208: The Heart of the Matter

Peugeot 208: engine bay

Peugeot’s own tried and tested naturally aspirated 1.6-liter DOHC 16-valve VTi powerplant (122ps@6,000rpm and 160Nm@4,250rpm) with Auto Adaptive Tiptronic 4-speed autobox resides within the 1,150kg 208, delivering ample power and torque to the front wheels to launch the car from zero to 100km/h in just 10.7 seconds, and on to a respectable top speed of 190km/h. An efficient Advanced Electric Power Steering means more power goes to the wheels instead of robbing engine revolutions via a hydraulic pump like conventional systems. Stopping duty is entrusted to a pair of ventilated discs up front and solid discs in the rear, with the usual array of ABS, EBA, EBD, ESP with ASR and DSC. The chassis is also enhanced with VHSS (Very High Strength Steel). All these and more, work together to keep you safe on the roads and earning the 208 a full 5-Star Euro NCAP safety rating.

With only 4 forward ratios to play with, I had my initial reservations about how this car would perform in daily driving, forgetting for just a second that not that long ago, it was a luxury for automatic cars to even have 4 speeds. On the 208, 2,000rpm on 4th would give you a cruising speed of around 74km/h (visual confirmation from the speedo and odo meters), which meant roughly 3,000 turns to hit the freeways’ speed limit of 110km/h. In other words, the 208 might not be as frugal as it could be for outstation runs. For city driving, which was what I did primarily with this car, I managed to get a return of 10.5l/100km on average, which was on par with today’s 1.6-litre automatics.

As a daily driver, I find the 208 more than adequate in terms of power, though at the back of my mind, I wished there was a turbocharged engine sitting inside the engine bay instead! The chassis was well setup and I felt that it could definitely handle a dose of steroids in the grunt department. Do not get me wrong, even with three adults on board the 1.6 VTi engine never complained or ran out of breath, and if you’re looking for a fun daily driver with excellent maneuverability and being able to squeeze into tight parking spaces while still able to arrive in style, the Peugeot 208 is a recommended choice.

Peugeot 208’s cosseting Cabin

Peugeot 208: interior overview Peugeot 208: a peek inside Peugeot 208: clingy front semi-bucket seats

The first thing that struck me about the interior of the 208, is the sight of the beautiful pair of semi bucket seats up front. This kind of seats is usually reserved for expensive or sporty rides, and here we have them in the demure and affordable 208. 90% of a driver’s time is spent behind the steering wheel, so the seats are one of the most important aspects of motoring pleasure and refinement. You can have the latest and trendiest interiors, but if the seats are hopeless, you will not enjoy the ride, Period! Next up is the steering wheel. The refinement doesn’t stop here. Having an EPS system meant that the designers had a free hand to design the steering in whatever size and shape they wanted, without having to worry about steering effort. Voila, you get an easy on the eyes, sporty steering that has premium written all over it in terms of look, feel and feedback. The steering is tuned for a sporty, engaging drive. Behind the wheel is the much-vaunted “floating” instrument panel with color LCD display and multi stage illumination. It’s got a multitude of information to satisfy most pundits and then some. At night, it’s a very welcome sight with very legible numberings and letterings to keep you informed at a glance about the vital bits of driving information.

Peugeot 208 center console

The climate controls are a sight to behold, again in keeping with the premium image of the car. Cooling is more than adequate for our balmy weather, and should you and your front passenger have two minds about cabin temps, dual zone climate controls is the answer. Next up is the award winning Interactive 7” HD Color Touchscreen Arkamys 3D entertainment system, complete with 6 speakers. Modern cars are putting a lot of in-car audio accessory shops out of business, and in the case of the Peugeot 208, if you’re not too OCD about your in-car entertainment, you will find the 208’s sound system to be more than adequate by today’s OEM audio standards. Not the best out there in overall tonality, but certainly more than enough for that Saturday night drive downtown with your best mates. What it lacks in the low end of the audio spectrum it makes up for it in the sweet mids and subtle high frequencies. Take your pick of Bluetooth, audio streaming and USB to drive your music. And where there is Bluetooth connectivity, there is handsfree operation for calls.

Get into the back and you will be surprised at the ample legroom. Past iterations of the 2-series (from 205 to 207) weren’t meant to ferry full-sized passengers in the back, they were more for stashing your backpack and other personal effects. With the 208, Peugeot can proudly call this one a 5-seater (though for the most part, I would recommend no more than 4 full-sized adults). This is just me and wishful thinking, but wouldn’t it have been nice to make the 208 a proper 4-seater, with 2 semi-bucket seats at the back instead of a flat long seat? As it stands, rear passengers will have an entirely different experience compared to the front, not helped also by the choice of a trailing arm to yoke the rear wheels. Rear passengers complained of a slightly firm ride; methinks the thinner padding of the rear seats were partially to blame as well. But as it stands, you can’t have it all. Trailing arm setups allow the rear arches to be placed further back, opening up the rear legroom area.

The situation up front is a lot more forgiving, owing to the use of MacPherson struts with an anti-roll bar to dampen our lovely roads, as well as the mentioned semi-bucket seats which were quite comfortable. Navigating the car about town was made even more fun, thanks to a very responsive steering system that makes the car feel very nippy indeed.

Return to Chic

Peugeot 208: front fascia

Peugeot had a good run with the 206 (rebadged locally as Naza Bestari at one point), offering local motorists a fun alternative to the usual suspects in the sub-70k price range. It gave us a chance to experience the finer aspects of Continental motoring without the hefty price tag. However, you’d have to be a really average-sized adult to appreciate the “coziness” of a tight cabin, regardless of how pretty it looked from the outside. The 207 hatch never made it here, and all we had was the 207 sedan which wasn’t all too roomy either, and didn’t look as good as its hatchback cousin. With the new 208, Peugeot has finally gotten its act together again, and it manages to address some of the main drawbacks of the past; roominess and an uprated powerplant. It also packs in a host of bells and whistles to keep abreast of competitors in the tightly fought B-segment of the market. Most importantly, it has that wow factor and urban chic appeal that even 40-somethings like ‘Yours Truly’ can appreciate, and a true heir to the classic 2-series Peugeots of the past. As for color choice? I’ll have that 208 in any color as long as it’s red, or in Peugeot speak, Rogue Red. If you’ve never driven a Peugeot, the new 208 is a good place to start your discovery into the world of Peugeot motoring.

Reviewed by Greg

Peugeot 208 images

Peugeot 208  IMG_8097_resize Peugeot 208: doors ajarPeugeot 208: floating instrument cluster


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