Long term report: Peugeot 208

Long term report: Peugeot 208

It's fair to say that I wasn't exactly looking forward to a prolonged stint in the 208, given the mixed feeling towards it in the AOL Cars office.

However, having never driven Peugeot's latest offering, a weekend of solid testing was needed before I could pass judgement.
So, packing the car up before the long schlep from our Gosport office to home in Birmingham, the first thing that struck me about the stubby little supermini was just how roomy it was inside.

Aside from a boot that will happily swallow more than enough luggage for a weekend away, there was enough adjustability in both the driver's seat and steering wheel to easily accommodate my 6'8" frame.

My height in the seat meant my view of the dials wasn't unduly obscured by the steering wheel – something that has proved a bugbear for most others.

Suitably impressed, I awoke the thrummy three-cylinder engine and...immediately stalled.

I had been warned that the clutch was about as manageable as a sugar-addled three-year-old, but wasn't prepared for just how much concentration getting off the line cleanly requires.

With a biting point at the very top of the pedal's long travel, you end up either kangarooing away like a learner driver, or over compensating with the power and launching into the car in front.

It makes urban driving particularly stressful, which is shame given the 208's city car remit.

Get it on the open road and the diminutive Peugeot makes a better case for itself, being quiet and refined at motorway speeds. Only the lack of a sixth gear ratio lets it down, having a negative effect on fuel economy as the engine buzzes away.

My introduction to the 208 has me questioning whether I like it or not. Certainly it rides a lot better than many of its rivals, with even severe speed bumps quelled in a manner you wouldn't expect if you weren't used to French cars.

However, the basics are flawed – that clutch and a ponderous gearbox immediately spoiling any rapport you build with the car.

It will be interesting to see whether the 208 can overcome this, and gain my affections in other ways, but for now, I, like many who've driven this car, remains resolutely nonplussed.

The Knowledge

Model: Peugeot 208 Active Vti 1.2
Price: £14,550 (as tested)
Engine: 1.2-litre, petrol
Power: 82bhp, 118Nm
Max speed: 109mph
0-60mph: 13.8s
MPG: 65.7 (combined)
Emissions: 104g/km
Mileage this month: 312
Costs this month: £0
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