The French claim to the fashion throne isn’t all hype. They do have the power to turn heads when something new steps out of a designer’s workshop, and if automobiles were to be an exception, a veritable canvas of art would be lost! Thankfully, the new Peugeot 208 has enough designer looks to keep their chin up.
THE UPSIDE: Sporty compact steering, Sophisticated design with chrome strips, More space than before, More fun to drive, 5-star Euro N-CAP safety rating
THE FLIPSIDE: Jerky downshifts, A few might dislike the steering size
THE PRICE: AED 55,500 for Peugeot 208 Active, 59,900 for Active-Plus and 65,500 for Allure
Design and practicality
The new Peugeot 208 is designed to impress and the tail end is styled to surprise. The aesthetic use of the narrow strips of chrome and steel on the steering, the touch screen and overlining the ‘ferris leo erectus’ in the rear adds a touch of class along with the chiseled boomerang lamps at the rear. The rear has been sculpted and chiseled off compared with 207. With reduced overhangs, the Peugeot 208 looks more compact and defined.
The Peugeot 208 looks from the outside like a full size cabin without much of a boot. The feeling is reinforced when you settle in with comfortable knee space, increased by 50mm compared with its predecessor, but the latter part of your assumption is quickly proved wrong. The boot is where a surprise is in store for you– with 311 L under its rear shelf and almost four times that with folded rear seats, this car can accommodate more than the 207 ever did!
The Peugeot 208 is lighter and stronger as well. As the support team at the DriveME washing bay pointed out, the bumpers and the body come across as softer on touch – after all, the entry level version is almost 173 kg lighter! Yet, with strong steel panels and aluminium, besides 6 airbags, there is a full five star safety rating from Euro N-Cap to reassure you in that department.
What is most striking in the 208 cabin is the steering that isn’t a lot bigger than a toddler cart’s. While some might be baffled by the size, I found the steering wheel nimble and fairly precise and the size adds to the sporty feeling of the drive. The fun to grip steering could pose a problem for shorter driving positions though, with the top arc right in the line of dial view.
However, that slick and smooth nature of the steering wheel isn’t shared by the transmission. While the Peugeot 208 shifts gears pleasantly with a soft and sure click, the downshifts at lower speeds weren’t as smooth as I would have liked. There is a mild driveline shunt – a jerky slowdown or halt as you would remember from your apprenticeship on manual drives. Well, it doesn’t hamper the overall drive quality that’s smooth but on routes punctuated with frequent traffic signals, it can be an irritant.
The 1.6 VVT engine of the Peugeot 208 offers 120 bhp, which rakes up a strong breeze for the 208 to ride on, combined with a 160 Nm torque maxing at 6000 rpm. The power is encouragingly present during mid range acceleration but its distribution isn’t totally regularized with the 4-speed automatic transmission of the Peugeot 208, while the Tiptronic keeps up the spirit of the 208.
Despite the Athermic windscreen, while it is a good idea to have the windows tinted like my test car was, it would be an even better idea to leave the quarter glass in front just as it is. Or else you could have an undesirably thick A-pillar residue to deal with!
The essential Peugeot 208
Given that the Peugeot 208 will be largely picked up by young male executives who want a nippy ride, or moms who would drop their kids to tennis lessons on their way to the fitness club, the new Pug is fairly desirable. Paying AED 10,000 extra will get you an extra inch from the standard 15” wheels, and Bluetooth, but pretty much everything else comes as standard in your Basic 208 Active at AED 55,500.
Natural finesse comes with natural flaws. The Peugeot 208 with its svelte design and smooth steering compels you to overlook its shaky shifts, for start-stop traffic doesn’t last all the way to a destination.
Drive courtesy: Swaidan Trading LLC
Pictures: Sudeep Koshy