First Drive Review: Peugeot 208

Independent review by Maxine Ashford

5-minute read

Yellow Peugeot 208 Exterior Rear Driving

First Drive: Peugeot 208

Explore the key features of the Peugeot 208 in our expert first drive review

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Stylish, great to drive, and inexpensive to run, the Peugeot 208 is a supermini that impresses across the board.


  • Engaging to drive
  • Capable on motorways
  • Comfortable interior
  • Economy
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Peugeot's all-new 208 is the first to adopt the company’s ‘Power of Choice’ philosophy, where the customer simply chooses the model and powertrain, leaving the rest to fall neatly into place.

The dynamically-styled 5-door 208 is available in richly-equipped trim levels called Active, Allure, and GT Line.

For anyone with an eye on a greener future, a fully electric e-208 will be also be on sale with the option of a flagship GT trim.


Powering the car is a punchy 3-cylinder 1.2-litre PureTech petrol unit delivering 75bhp, 100bhp, or 130hp with a 5 or 6-speed manual gearbox or 8-speed automatic transmission.

And for diesel fans, a four-cylinder 1.5-litre BlueHDi 100hp unit matched to a six-speed manual transmission is on offer.

Design and Technology

Viewed from any angle, the latest generation 208 looks the part with all new styling and a dynamic profile.

There are full LED headlights and there's the company’s traditional three-line claw effect lights, of course.

These look even more appealing with a single light feature dropping down each side of the bumper, resembling sabre teeth. A choice of grille designs complete the striking front end styling.

From the side, the 208 boasts flowing lines with rear privacy glass, dark pillars and a range of neat alloy wheels. From the back there are the 3D claw-effect lights which are now connected by a large black bar with the Peugeot name written across it.

Move inside and the interior oozes class. The latest i-Cockpit layout includes a neat 3D instrument cluster, a compact multi-function steering wheel, high-end upholstery, a smart touchscreen, carbon-effect inlays, gloss black toggles, piano keys and plenty more besides.

On the technology front, dependant upon trim level, expect to see the likes of a fully configurable head-up display, a TomTom navigation system, MirrorScreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, DAB radio, Bluetooth, a wireless charging plate, plus a seven-inch touchscreen - this increases to 10 inches on higher grades.

Despite its compact size, the new 208 is slightly longer than the outgoing model it replaces and that makes it a practical choice in its sector with space in the back for a couple of passengers provided the front seats are not pushed right back.

That said, anyone topping the six-foot mark may find their hair brushing up against the headlining.

The boot has a capacity of 311 litres that increases to 1,106 with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat and there are lots of handy nooks and crannies to tuck away goodies such as the glovebox, central storage bin, door pockets, cup holders, smartphone docking station, seat back pockets and a deep tray in front of the gear stick.

With a four-star Euro NCAP safety rating, the Peugeot 208 missed out on a maximum score because Active Emergency Braking radar isn't included as an option on all trim levels.

But the car does have a lot of safety kit, including Active Safety Brake System which has intelligent autonomous braking and works in conjunction with the Distance Alert System, Active Lane Keeping Assist with Road Edge Detection and Road Sign Recognition, anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and emergency braking assistance, driver attention warning, ISOFIX child seat fixtures to the outer rear seats, electronic stability control, tyre pressure sensors and a full suite of airbags.

Driving Experience

Peugeot believes the biggest selling 208 will be the 1.2-litre PureTech 100 6-speed manual in Allure trim grade, so that’s the car that was tested in this review.

This model has 151lb ft of torque and can complete the 0 to 62mph sprint in 9.9 seconds, topping out at 117mph.

According to official figures, it can deliver 46.6-53.0mpg under WLTP testing, with carbon emissions of 97g/km.

On the performance front, the 208 copes well with all sorts of driving conditions. The light, yet precise steering, makes it ideal for city driving or when unleashed on the country lanes.

But it also has a mature side to its character and can easily cope with motorway or dual carriageways where it cruises effortlessly at 70mph.

The road holding is super grippy and the car feels nicely balanced as it zips through the country lanes with ample power on tap for overtaking slower moving vehicles.
Maxine Ashford

There are drive modes called Eco and Normal that alter the way the car reacts, but if you want extra choice then the next grade up - GT Line - adds a Sport mode that really sharpens up the performance.


All in all, the latest 208 is a fabulous car that’s steeped in history but has been brought bang up to date and is ready to really shake up the supermini sector. It looks stunning, drives superbly well, and there's a model to suit all tastes and budgets, making it a top choice if you're in the market for a new car.