Wednesday, 10 April 2013

REVIEW - Peugeot 208 eHDi

I may have already tested the Peugeot 208, but that was a 1.6-litre petrol engine with 120PS. So what about those who do more mileage, or want a car with lower running costs. Well one of the major selling points to the 208 range is the line-up of diesel engines. Every diesel 208 is sub-100g/km CO2 which means all are free to tax and offer impressive levels of fuel consumption. To find out what they have to offer I decided to give one of the eHDi models a go. Read on to see how I got on...

Looks - 10/10

One of the best things about the 208 is the way it looks. After the 207, which was not the prettiest of cars, it's great to see the replacement look so good. It looks small again, like the 205 and 206. In fact, small
doesn't quite describe it; agile would be better. On the outside there's bits of chrome which make the 208 look fantastic; I particularly like the strip across the top of the windscreen. The wheels are the only let down on the outside, but there are optional 17" wheels which look much better. The rear lights are worthy of a mention because they're like a work of art.

Move inside and there are more impressive features. The seats- half leather on my Allure test model- are lovely and bucketed, and sat nicely in the cabin. The steering wheel instantly catches your eye because it is microscopic. In practice it's great, but to look at it's a bit strange. It takes a bit of time to get it set up so that you can see all the dials, but I managed nonetheless. Another major feature of the interior is the media system, courtesy of a large screen on the dashboard. This can show you fuel consumption information or radio/iPod information, and being touch-screen it's very easy to use. Finally the materials used in the cabin really give a nice finish to the car. I love the 'flat'  dashboard on the passenger side, and all the piano black trim in my test car added a lot to the look of the cabin. On the whole the plastics are nice and don't feel cheap which is a great feature too.

Handling/Performance - 9/10

The difference between this and the previous 208 I tested lay under the bonnet. The engine powering this little Pug was a 1.6-litre eHDi unit, which produces 92PS and an impressive 230Nm of torque. This is put to the road via a 5-speed manual gearbox. A sprint from 0-62mph takes 10.3 seconds and the top speed is 103mph. Not too shabby for a little diesel, and to drive it feels better than the figures suggest.

The eHDi has plenty of pull in each gear, as you would expect from a diesel engine. There's a smaller rev band than it's petrol counterpart, but again this is how you would expect. In order to get the 208 shifting you really do need to use the gears well, but I like this because it makes you feel more involved in the drive and prevents you from being a lazy driver. The one thing I couldn't quite get my head around was why the gearbox was only a 5-speed. I thought a 6-speed would have suited the car better, and offered better driveability. Nowadays I would expect most cars to come with a 6-speed box, and it's becoming a feature I look for more in a car, particularly for motorway cruising. What I will say about the Peugeot's 5-speed is that it had a longer 5th gear which helped make it a good motorway cruiser.

On to the handling then, and here the 208 is faultless. It feels like a small french car should do; nippy, grippy and a barrel of laughs. You can properly chuck this little car around a twisty road and have the time of your life. Even the heavy diesel engine under the bonnet doesn't seem to affect the handling. As I mentioned earlier you can work the gearbox, and coupled to a twist B-road this equals great fun. Often I would forget that I was driving a diesel and could thing I was in a hot hatch. It was often said about the 205 GTi that on a country road nothing could keep up with it, and there is a sense of that same handling in the 208.

Economy - 10/10
The best aspect of buying a diesel 208 is the economy. All of the 208 diesels are sub-100g/km CO2, meaning all of them are free road tax. If that wasn't a bonus enough, then the eHDi can offer combined fuel consumption of 74.3mpg to help you spend less at the filling stations. The start/stop technology works well to help save you fuel when stopped, and you do get used to the engine turning itself off despite it being a bit alien at first.

Practicality - 9/10

The 208 is certainly a practical little car too. There is a reasonably sized boot and the cabin is a lot bigger than the exterior would suggest. I think I figured this out, because there is very little overhand on the outside of the wheelbase. This gives a smaller car the maximum amount of cabin space, and is probably one of the reasons the handling is so good. Even the 3-door model is fine for adults to climb in the back, and they will have enough room in there as well.

Other great features on my Allure test model include cruise control, auto lights, auto wipers, iPod control, bluetooth, sat-nav, rear parking sensors and a panoramic roof which was absolutely stunning. There's a lot of car inside the small-looking exterior of the 208, and it can offer you a lot should you buy one. I know I enjoyed it for the week I had it, and it was the type of ca
r that you could live with comfortably.

Fun - 9/10

The 208 is a fun little car, and there's no escaping it. It manages to put a smile on your face whenever go out for a drive, and the only reason this car didn't score a 10 was just that extra little something that the petrol 208 offers. That revvy, speedy little stereotype of a French supermini just doesn't have the same effect when you turn the key to fire up a  diesel. That's the only thing which tainted the image somewhat, otherwise you could convince yourself you were in Paris alongside all the other French drivers. Best be careful not to get too carried away though, or you may park on a mini roundabout or something. Very French... but in this country very frowned upon.
Concluding Remarks 

 I've tested two Peugeot 208's and loved them both. The range can offer you style in abundance, but also different offerings to suit whatever you require. If you do more miles and are after economy, then buy a diesel. For the best possible driving experience, get a petrol. And if you want to drive what could turn out to be an iconic Peugeot, then go order yourself a GTi. With the 208 being a proper little French car yet again, the GTi promises to be a car worthy of the badge.

Total Score - 47/50

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