When they started designing the second generation 208 Peugeot said they wanted to build 'the sexiest small hatch in the purest way'. Well, on the face of it no effort has been spared here: there's a brand new platform, a fresh look and a completely redesigned interior, all of it combining to target what the French brand hopes will be a younger driver. There's an all-electric version too with identical looks. Is this recently updated 208 good enough to steal Motability sales from the likes of the Renault Clio and Ford Fiesta while also pinching a few orders from higher-end cars like the Audi A1 and Mini? Lets find out.
The e-208 range now begins at £0 Advance Payment for the 'GT’ trim, down from £849. As the 208 range has undergone a significant update, double check with the Motability Specialist if you particularly want the new 2024 model year 208 (section updated October 2023).
What exactly should a supermini be? Affordable? Economical? Practical? All these things are important of course, but if you're a car maker and that's all you create to sell in this segment, then you'd better be prepared to sell it very cheaply. Even in this humble category you see, buyers are now expecting more in terms of style, innovation and technology. In fact, they're expecting something more like this, the revitalised version of Peugeot's MK2 model 208.
The second generation 208 was first launched in 2019 and has since gone on to sell very well indeed; in fact, in 2022 it was Europe's best-selling car, de-throning the Volkswagen Golf after 15 years. Here, we're looking at the mid-term facelift applied to this car, announced in Summer 2023. There are new Hybrid engines, an upgrade for the EV version and smarter looks across the range. Plenty to talk about.
Engine-wise, this big news here is the addition of two new Hybrid powertrains. these pair 100bhp and 136bhp versions of the brand's usual three cylinder 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine with a 6-speed auto gearbox featuring an integrated 48V electric motor. Peugeot claims that this will allow the car to run in pure-electric mode for over 50% of the time in town. If you can't stretch to the Hybrids, then you'll be pleased to know that the previous un-electrified 75bhp and 100bhp 1.2-litre PureTech petrol units from before remain in the range, mated respectively to either 5-speed or 6-speed manual gearboxes. There's no longer a diesel option. The EV E-208 electric model has evolved too, gaining a new 154bhp motor and a larger 51kWh battery offering a longer range of 248 miles. Bear in mind that the e-208 is around 350kgs heavier than the ordinary version.
What about the driving experience across the 208 range? That hasn't changed much. What should a small French family car feel like to drive? Much like this, we think. Peugeot hasn't bothered trying to be sporty, firm and Germanic here, so the damping control is gentle and allows for a bit of chassis movement, but gets firmer when the body starts pitching about - as it will do if you start pushing this car into corners in the kind of way a typical owner never would. Predictably, the resulting confection doesn't give you the alert responses you'd get in some rivals but for the kind of urban driving that cars of this sort tend to do, we think it's pretty well judged. What it lacks in handling finesse is well compensated for by the languid and properly Gallic way the car handles speed humps and tarmac tears.
The changes made to the facelifted version of this second generation 208 aren't major, but they do bring the look of this supermini into line with latest versions of the 2008 and 508. There's a bolder version of the car's distinctive three-fang daytime running light signature. Along with a broader front grille. At the back, the tail lamp bar has been revised with a trio of red 'claws' extending the width of the tailgate. As before at the front, there's a large, intricately detailed grille with triple white LED headlights.
Inside, not too much has changed. There's a redesigned gearstick. And the big 10-inch centre screen that was previously reserved for top-spec models is now standardised across the range (though it gains a high-definition panel in pricier 'Allure' and 'GT' variants). As before, this 208 features Peugeot's 'i-Cockpit' design philosophy which sees you viewing the instrument screen over the top of the wheel rim, rather than conventionally through the wheel spokes. A continuing really nice cabin detail is the fold-down flap under the 'piano key'-style keys that decorate the centre console, concealing an area which can house your smartphone in several different ways while it charges - either inductively or via two charging points. And the area has an angled lip so that you can view your 'phone's screen while it's charging. At the back of this 208, you'll find decent passenger space for a car of this size. And Peugeot's keen to point out that the e-208 all-electric version has the same amount of rear seat legroom and boot space (311-litres) as the fossil-fuelled derivatives.
As before, there are three main trim levels - 'Active', 'Allure' and 'GT'. A 10-inch central infotainment screen is now standard across the range with built-in 'Apple CarPlay'/'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring. But combustion versions with base 'Active' trim still use an old-tech analogue instrument cluster with an incorporated 3.5-inch colour screen between the dials. 'Allure' and 'GT' models now come standard with the brand's 'Peugeot i-Connect' package, with the option to upgrade to 'i-Connect Advanced' which features live TomTom navigation and natural voice recognition. 'Allure'-spec gets you 16-inch 'Noma' diamond-cut alloy wheels, upgraded to 17-inch 'Yanaka' diamond-cut two-tone alloy rims on 'GT' versions. The 'GT' variants also get a 3D instrument screen, dynamic ambient lighting, 'Adamite Green' stitching across the dashboard and upholstery trimmed in black alcantara with 'Adamite Green' stitching.
Customers will choose between seven body colours, two of which are freshly added - 'Agueda Yellow' and 'Selenium Grey'. the other colours are 'Cumulus Grey', 'Nera Black', 'Bianca White', 'Elixir Red' and 'Vertigo Blue'. All 208 models feature gloss black door mirrors, irrespective of the colour chosen, and the 'GT' variants come as standard with gloss black wheel arches.
As you'd expect, a wide range of driver assistance and safety technologies are available this time round. Go for the Hybrid or e-208 models and the adaptive cruise control system you can have has the ability to make the car automatically stop and go in heavy traffic. You can have this system with a manual gearbox too, where it operates down to 18mph. Lane departure warning, auto parking and blind spot monitoring systems are available too.
You no longer have to stretch to an E-208 if you want a really frugal version of this supermini. Thanks to a battery that recharges during driving, the freshly introduced electrified technology now available in the Hybrid 100 and Hybrid 136 versions of this car offers extra torque at low revs and up to 15% lower fuel consumption. In urban driving, Peugeot claims that Hybrid 208 models will operate for more than 50% of the time in 100% zero-emission electric mode.
The standard 100hp PureTech manual model is rated at up to 56.7mpg on the WLTP combined cycle and is supposed to return an WLTP-rated CO2 reading of up to 112g/km, which is pretty good going for a car in this segment.
The improved Peugeot e-208 shares the same good looks of the standard 208, does up to 248 miles between charges (up from 224miles), and has no practicality downsides over the combustion-engined version. The key difference could well be a difference in Motability Advance Payment, though much of that will be offset by lower fuel costs over the course of the 3 year lease.
The revised all-electric E-208 models come with Peugeot's latest 115kW (156bhp) electric motor and a larger 51kWh battery capable of up to 248 miles between charges. A 7.4kW single-phase charger is supplied as standard on all E-208s, while a three-phase 11kW charger is available as an option. A 20-80% charge is estimated to take less than 25 minutes when using a 100kW rapid charger, extending to 4hrs and 40 minutes when using a 7.4kW charger.
So this second generation 208 has evolved - but not beyond recognition. In improving it, Peugeot has certainly tried to cover all the bases, while being very conscious that trying to please too many people too much of the time is a sure-fire recipe for failure - or at the very least, a distinctly compromised and forgettable end-result. 'It's OK to have 20% of people not liking this car', the company's MD used to say, 'as long as the other 80% love it'. In this case, we reckon his brand doesn't have too much to worry about.
There may be a few Motability customers who don't like the cabin layout, or who might prefer the value proposition of a budget brand - but I'm guessing they'll be in the minority. Most will recognise that in this 208, Peugeot has perfected for us the supermini it was always capable of. A smart small car choice for Motability customers - in more ways than one.
People with a disability and carers who choose a new Peugeot 208 through Motability will receive a brand new car, delivered by a Motability Specialist at a local Peugeot dealership, complete with insurance, servicing and maintenance, full breakdown assistance, replacement tyre cover, windscreen repair or replacement cover plus a mileage allowance of 60,000 miles over three years.
This month, these Peugeot 208 New models can be ordered through the Motability Scheme: