If you are in the market for a nearly new small car on a tight budget, there are plenty of Fiat Pandas.
If you want a high-quality feel from your little car then the Vauxhall Corsa delivers, although it will cost you more. If you want a ‘brand’ then a Volkswagen Polo might be on your list, but that will cost more still.
And if you don’t want bland, and the Fiat 500 is too small, then you probably think you are going to have to buy a Mini. Which is the most expensive of the lot.
But if you select the right specification of Peugeot’s latest small car, the 208, it can turn heads just as effectively as a Mini without raiding your wallet.
On B-roads the 208 is nimble and precise; the 16” alloy wheels deliver grip and inspire confidence. The surprisingly small steering wheel engages the driver and injects a sense of fun.
The 1.6 e-HDI produces a pleasingly throaty noise too as it delivers excellent mid-range torque and acceleration. On fast-flowing ring roads that tend to be dotted with junctions and roundabouts this is exactly what you want. It makes keeping up with the traffic flow easy and stress-free.
These advantages contribute to the 208 not feeling as stable on motorways as it might – the steering can seem a little oversensitive, creating a very slightly jittery ride. And at top motorway speeds the engine note is a little too noisy and a little tiring to be ideal – but no worse than you would find in a Clio 1.2 TCE for example.
The dashboard, instrument binnacle and multimedia touch-screen the coolest in the market – all swooping and high tech, brought to life with a subtle and stylish use of lighting. Marred slightly by a steering wheel position that slightly obstructed my view of the bottom half of the instrument binnacle.
The seats are comfortable and supportive for hours and the cabin and boot is all very spacious. The rear-folding seats provide a surprising amount of loading space if you need it.
So if you want a stylish, capable car on a budget, the 208 is there for you.
What’s the market like?
One year old small cars start at about £5,500 with the Fiat Pandas. Corsas, Fiestas and Micras move the budget up a notch to £6,000 - £6,500. Above that you find Fiat 500 and Volkswagen Polos starting from £7,000. And at the top of the tree, the BMW Mini starts from £9,000.
The 208 will follow the depreciation curve of the 207 that went before it to some extent, although Used Car Expert expects it to lose slightly less money over the first three years. The upshot of this is that stylish, low mileage, nearly-new 208s will be popping up in dealers all over the country for £7,000 or so.
A super stylish small car.
Warranty & Dealer Care
The Peugeot 208 tested suffered a minor inconvenience with its gear change that Used Car Expert has seen on older Peugeots. The springs that help move the gear lever into neutral when the driver takes it out of 5th had become weak and the result was that the gear lever headed into a ‘No Man’s Land’ above the reverse gate.
A minor update of the gearbox springs solves the problem and is something that Peugeot dealers will do under warranty. However, it may take some explaining and pressure, because a very gentle or low-speed test drive won’t reveal the problem.