Can the new Peugeot 208 really mix it with the school bullies

by Catherine Culleton.

 

School is back. All around the country parents are dropping off and picking up their little darlings, causing mayhem outside the school gates as a result. Seven seater road hogs jostle for position with fashionable soft roaders and if you’re running late sure just park on the footpath, who walks these days? When it comes to the school run it seems few do.

The new Peugeot 208 is an ideal school run car and quite capable of much more besides.

 

The stylish exterior is a vast improvement on the 207, widely acknowledged as too big, while the 208 interior is deceptively spacious. I was surprised to find room enough to sit in relative comfort between two full sized child seats in the rear. To put this in perspective, there was as much room between the seats as in the much larger 3008.

I drove the 1.4l, 70 bhp HDi model. With current fuel prices sky high, economy is vital and the 208 delivered decent fuel efficiency. Following recent advice from AA Roadwatch, I reduced my motorway speed to 110kph and returned 4.2l/100km average. Seeing as this was about 5.9l/100km at 120kph, any fuel saving is not to be sniffed at.

 

Equipment wise, this model had cruise control, air con, blue tooth and an easy to use touch screen for radio controls, blue tooth hands free and access to music files via USB. It also includes steering wheel mounted controls.

The most unusual feature on the dash was the position of the speedometer and rev counter, perched above the tiny “go cart” like steering wheel. I found the dials easy to read as you can glance down to them and back to the road quickly. Peugeot use a HUD (heads up display) system in many of their larger models and this display seems based on HUD. But these displays are expensive so would drive up the price of what needs to be an affordable small family car.

The 208 is an easy car to drive. The 5 speed manual gear box is a little loose but certainly not sloppy as some French cars can be prone to. At low revs the diesel engine is quite noisy but once cruising no more noticeable than other equivalent engines. The comfort level is typically French, albeit a tad bouncy over bumps. This car is also nippy around town, manoeuvrable, aided by the little steering wheel and a doddle to park, so you shouldn’t have to sprawl across the footpath outside the school! The boot capacity is sufficient for a car this size, and though shopping bag hooks are present they don’t actually hold bag handles in place very well.

 

In this segment the 208 has many well known rivals so it’s got its work cut out to compete with these class toppers. The granddaddy of this car, the 206 as a best seller inIrelandso the bench mark is high. Peugeot have done their homework with the new 208 and time will tell if it becomes a star pupil.  Priced at  €18,795 and in tax band A, it costs just €160 a year to tax.

Overall the 208 is a stylish, practical car, a very good effort from Peugeot.