Go-on compact hatchback buyers admit it – you really desire a European car but your budget means you’ve only considered Korean or Japanese. Well here’s good news: Peugeot has just launched a freshened 208 lineup with prices starting from just $15,990.
The French giant says getting two models under $20,000 was critical in development of the updated 208 lineup as at least 80 per-cent of buyers in this segment only consider cars with an ‘under-20’ sticker. “With options and other extras added-in most transactions head towards the mid-twenties but without price leaders under $20,000 you’re just not considered,” Peugeot Australia boss John Statari revealed.
Peugeot 208 Overview
New looks, new engines, sharper prices and a simplified model lineup mark-out the plan which will deliver much better sales for the Peugeot 208 in Australia. Well this is one of Europe’s best-selling compact hatchbacks so it’s off to a flying start.
The new lineup is:
|Access 5-speed manual||$15,990|
|Access 6-speed automatic||$18,990|
|Active 6-speed automatic||$21,990|
|Allure 6-speed automatic||$25,990|
|GT-Line 6-speed automatic||$27,490|
|GTi six-speed manual||$30,990|
Specification levels across the range are impressive. Even the entry-level Access manual includes items like traction control, tyre pressure warning sensors, cruise control, air-conditioning, six-speaker audio with Arkamys digital sound processing and USB/Bluetooth connectivity and daytime running lights (DRLs).
Stepping up to the Active grade adds extras such as 16-inch alloy wheels, 7-inch colour touchscreen audio with programmable cruise control, front fog-lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and two-tone black and chrome headlights with LED DRLs.
Allure models go further with satellite navigation, satellite navigation, auto parking, fog lights with cornering function, some exterior chrome and mesh seat trim.
The new GT-Line is feature packed with inclusions such as a glass roof, 17-inch alloy wheels, a sports front grille, sports seats and piano black/red trim highlights and red stripe seatbelts.
And the range-topping GTi stamps its mark as one of the pick of the hot hatchbacks with features such as 17-inch alloy wheels, sports seats in Nappa leather, a rear spoiler and unique sports bumpers front and rear.
Peugeot 208 Engine
Entry-level Peugeot 208 Access (five-speed manual) is powered by the terrific naturally-aspirated 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine. With 60kW/118Nm and combined-cycle fuel consumption of just 4.3l/100kms (down by 21 per-cent) Peugeot says this is the moist fuel-efficient car in its class.
Access automatic, Active and GT-Line models score the new turbocharged 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine offering 81kW/205Nm and combined-cycle fuel consumption of 4.5l/100kms. Fitment of the six-speed automatic transmission sourced from AISIN is a welcome addition.
The range-topping GTi scores a performance boost courtesy of the 153kW/300Nm turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine which was previously fitted to the 30th anniversary model. Drive is via a six-speed manual transmission.
Peugeot 208 The Interior
The standout interior feature of the Peugeot 208 remains the compact 31.5cm steering wheel. It’s sporty and provided the designers the chance to create a new look for the dashboard and instrumentation – 208 was the first car to receive this new steering wheel and when you slip into the driver’s seat the overwhelming thought is: “Why didn’t someone think of this before”.
Seats are nicely supportive and trimmed in model-specific cloth, sports mesh or leather. Instruments are housed in a largish binnacle which is easy to read thanks to that compact steering wheel (sporty flat bottom design in GTi.
Peugeot 208 Exterior & Styling
Styling changes aren’t massive. But park a new Peugeot 208 alongside the now superseded model and you do notice the differences.
Up-front there is a new bumper, a wider, deeper grille and two-tone black/chrome headlights for the Active model.
The rear sees a re-design of the LED tail-lights but still with the hallmark Peugeot 3D ‘claws’ look.
There are also some new paint colours including an excellent new ‘Orange Power’ (a burnt orange colour which looks great).
And here’s a world first: you can order your Peugeot 208 with ‘textured matte Premium Paint. Previously limited to the Peugeot 208 GTi 30th Anniversary model, this on-trend paint finish has been developed over four years and – unlike other similar finishes – can withstand pressure washers and commercial car-washing operations.
Peugeot 208 On The Road
Peugeot confidently allowed us to back-to-back superseded and new 208s around a test track and also sent us over the familiar roads around the Hawkesbury River north of Sydney. The test track laps quickly confirmed the worth of the new engines and reaffirmed the slickly developed chassis of the 208.
Of course in the test track environment the Peugeot 208 GTi starred. This really is a ripper sporty hatchback with nice balance and great ‘chuckability’ in the twisty stuff.
GTi’s turbocharged 1.6-litre engine benefits from the extra grunt (now 153kW), the six-speed manual is slick and the 17-inch wheel/tyre combo provides plenty of grip.
At the other end of the scale the 1.2-litre three-cylinder is one of the best of this new generation of fuel-sipping techno marvels. The 60kW is delivered with a likeable growl from the exhaust and make no mistake there is plenty of urge when you crack the whip.
The new turbocharged 81kW 1.2-litre powerplant also impressed. No shortage of grunt, fuel-saving auto start/stop and the six-speed automatic transmission mean the volume-selling models in the new 208 lineup are both nice to drive and friendly on the hip pocket.
Peugeot 208 Challenges
Some of the rough roads around the Hawkesbury River did reveal some tyre noise.
Peugeot 208 Verdict
As we’ve come to expect from Peugeot Australia, the 208’s update is very smartly done. Yes, the switch to a six-speed automatic transmission corrects a flaw which shouldn’t have existed in such a new model, but better, cleaner engines, some – admittedly mild – styling changes and a starting price of $15,990 all combine to throw to the 208 well-and-truly into the mix as being one of the best compact hatchbacks.
Peugeot has the 208’schassis nicely sorted and while all models are generously equipped the volume-selling Active ($21,990) in particular stands-out with its nice 16-inch alloys, seven-inch touchscreen including programmable cruise control and that nice leather-wrapped steering wheel.
So if you’re shopping for a compact hatchback you can go European and not break the bank.
Peugeot 208 The Competition
The Renault Clio ‘glams-up’ the looks in this segment and also has two models in the crucial sub-$20,000 bracket. Three engines to choose from and they’re all handy – 66kW three-cylinder, 88kW 1.2-litre and a 147kW 1.6-litre for the sporty versions. Matches the Peugeot for on-road dynamics (so they’re both the best of this bunch).
When launched the Volkswagen Polo was this segment’s champ but the Peugeot 208 and Renault Clio now have the German under pressure. The 66TSI is the only model with stickers under $20,000 and you’ll need to carefully cross-reference the Polo with the 208 for specifications as (in the Volkswagen way) many desirable items are actually on the options list.
And even though it’s not made in Europe, we’ve got the Ford Fiesta in the mix for two reasons: number one it’s the best of the compact hatchbacks and number two it was designed in Germany. Starting price is a very sharp $15,825, all three engines on offer are beauties, the twin-clutch six-speed auto is as good as they come and for driving dynamics the baby Ford still rules.