Peugeot 208 5dr Active 1.2 VTi8228 | 06 | 2012Scotcars rating

    Faced with the challenge of updating its best-selling 208, Peugeot does a grand job


    It’s a dilemma which some manufacturers are pleased to have, because it means their model has been a great success. It’s a real challenge. How do you update something which is still selling well without losing that solid customer base? Peugeot have had to handle it in the launch of their latest supermini, the 208. There must have been some worried people at Peugeot HQ. The 208’s predecessors, the 207, 206 and 205 have between them sold more than 16 million models around the world and almost one and a half million in the UK, and the 206 is still the best-selling car in Peugeot’s history with 7.7 million already on the world’s roads and more appearing every day.

    So what they’ve done with the 208 is to hold on to the same general style and character but made it more relevant to today’s austere times by making it lighter and more economical, but with more interior and boot space along with some of the latest technology and gizmos. In contrast to some of the classic Peugeot TV ads of the past, they’ve relied more heavily this time on social media and viral communication to get the word about.

    And it seems to have worked. Before the car was even in the showrooms and available for test drives, there had been more than 3000 confirmed customer orders – more than have ever been recorded for a new Peugeot model in the past. Adding to the record of this range’s incredible appeal is that the 207 was still selling so well in what would normally be the run-out where the biggest struggle is to actually shift the remaining stock of the old model, Peugeot had to re-start production of the 207 to meet customer demand.  

    On the Road

    The new car is clearly part of the 200 family which began as long ago as 1929 with the first 201, but some nice work has been done on the styling front to give it more of a street presence with sculpting on the body sides and a more significant front end. Behind the wheel, it feels noticeably lighter – the entry level model has saved 173kgs – or to put it more positively, it’s nimble on its feet and happy to get going, even with the small three cylinder engine of the test car.

    It is a car designed for the city and here it excels with good visibility although the test car’s £270 option of rear parking sensors is a wise investment to avoid annoying scratches and dents, or something more serious and expensive. On the open road, it’s also quite happy although I found the clutch on the test car a touch too light, but that could be because it had done less than a thousand miles and may settle down with a few more on the clock. The three-cylinder engine at first sounded a little raspy even in comparison to the 1.6 diesel, but again this was less noticeable as the miles went by.  

    Comfort and Safety

    Although the car is slightly smaller on the outside, it’s now bigger on the inside and the five-door version is useful for access to the rear seats, which looked a little bit of a squash in the three-door model. What’s most noticeable is the tiny steering wheel which reminded me of a sports replacement I fitted to a Mini in the Seventies. What it means is that the new style instrument panel is clearly visible whatever the position of the wheel and the dials are clear and concise. In the centre of the panel is a seven-inch touch-screen — standard in all but the entry level — which controls a whole range of functions, including radio, navigation, Bluetooth, climate and music files. It seems complex at first on only a short drive but any long term owner would soon get the hang of it.

    Peugeot is confident of selling 20,000 models in 2012 and 50,000 in a full year with around 64% going to private buyers. Many of them are likely to be from the younger generation thanks to Peugeot’s Just Add Fuel offer which is now available for the first time to 21-year-old customers. In a three-year deal, the car comes with full warranty, servicing and most importantly insurance. It involves a £1500 deposit and depending on the insurance rating of where the customer lives, the monthly payments could be as low as £285 a month — even for a 21-year-old — with the option to make a final payment to hold onto the car after three years.    

    Should I Buy One?

    It’s a smart package with all the appeal of the previous models and especially attractive to both young, old and all those in between.

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    Alan Douglas  

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £12,795 / £13,510
    Engine / Power: 1199cc / 82bhp
    How fast?: 0-62mph 14secs / Max 109mph
    How big/heavy?: L3962mm W2004mm H1460mm / Weight 975kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: 62.8mpg / 104g/km CO2
    InsGP/Road tax: 8E / Band B £20
    Alternatives: Ford Fiesta; Toyota Yaris; Vauxhall Corsa; VW Polo

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