The Peugeot 208 is so dramatically improved over the 206 and 207 models that it’s almost as if it’s skipped a couple of generations.
Any true car lover will love the fact that Peugeot is getting its mojo back again after some lean years and the 208 is a supermini that now makes a convincing case for itself, even in its least expensive three cylinder 1.0-litre VTi petrol guise.
The three-cylinder petrol engine stands out above the many others available in the 208 line up, because it’s quite clearly the best.
It’s not an immediately obvious candidate for delivering much in the way of fun.
The 208 is a big car and an 68bhp engine would appear to be chronically underpowered, but understand this: the 1.0-litre three cylinder engine is so much lighter than, say, the 1.4-litre four you’ll find further up the 208 range that their power to weight ratios are hardly any different.
The three cylinder engine takes a massive 95 kilos out of the car’s front end and that has an absolutely definitive effect on the way the car handles.
The body control, the steering response and the tenacity of the 1.0-litre car’s front end means you may find yourself dissolving into gales of laughter as you punt it down a twisty road.
So while the 1.0-litre model’s 0-60mph time of 15.9 seconds doesn’t promise much on paper, get behind the wheel and you’ll experience one of the most rewarding small cars you’ll have driven in a very long time.
Whether you choose the three or the five door model, you can count on quite a bit more interior space than was served up by the 207.
The rear seat occupants get 5cm more knee room, but that doesn’t mean the 208 is tough to park, as it’s 7cm shorter and 1cm lower than the 207. The usual trick when performing this sort of sleight of hand is to deliver passenger room at the expense of luggage space, but not so here.
The 208 offers an additional 1.5 cubic litres in which to stow your gear, bumping the luggage bay up to 285 litres with the rear seats in place.
The 208 is a landmark car for Peugeot. We’d seen hints that this car might be special by the upward trajectory of recent models like the 3008, the 508 and the RCZ but nobody predicted the 208 to be quite the cohesive and convincing package it is.
Go for a three cylinder petrol model like the entry-level 1.0-litre VTi variant we’ve been looking at here if you want the most fun behind the wheel and the lowest overall running costs.
With the car already starting to rack up awards wins, it won’t be too long before the public at large catches onto what a good package this is.
They bought the 206 in huge numbers and that wasn’t a great car.
Now that Peugeot has finally brought us the supermini we knew they were capable of, at a price that’s right, it’s time to win back that public trust.