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Peugeot 208 2019 review: GT-Line

The 208 is the archetype of the emotional Euro buy. But is it any good?
EXPERT RATING
7.1
In a world of cheap and hugely popular hatchbacks from Japan and Korea, it’s easy to forget that this segment was originally given much of its joie de vivre by the oft-forgotten French car brands.

In a world of cheap, popular and well-specified Japanese and Korean small hatchbacks, it’s easy to forget the humble French cars that once helped define the segment.

They’re still around, though. You’ve probably seen a few Renault Clios, you might not have seen the tragically underrated new Citroen C3, and there’s at least a chance you’ve seen one of these – the Peugeot 208.

This iteration of the 208 has been around in one form or another since 2012. This iteration of the 208 has been around in one form or another since 2012.

This iteration of the 208 has been around in one form or another since 2012 and is due to be replaced by a second-generation model in the near future.

So, should you consider the aging 208 in a busy market segment? I spent a week behind the wheel of the second-from-the-top GT-Line to find out.

Peugeot 208 2019: GT-Line
Safety rating
Engine Type1.2L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency4.5L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$26,990

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

It might not be for you, but I had come around to the 208’s design by the time I handed the keys back. It’s a bit more upright and frumpy than the slick, conservative design of the Volkswagen Polo, or the swish, cutting-edge lines of the Mazda2.

The 208 has a slopey bonnet, unconventional face and tough rear wheel arches. The 208 has a slopey bonnet, unconventional face and tough rear wheel arches.

It’s undeniably a European city car in its short and upright stance, but blazes its own path, even compared to French competitors. I grew quite fond of its weird, slopey bonnet, unconventional face and tough rear wheel arches. The way the rear light clusters clasp the rear to bring the design together is quite satisfying, as are the aluminium-brush alloys, recessed lights and the single chrome tailpipe.

The rear light clusters clasp the rear to bring the design together. The rear light clusters clasp the rear to bring the design together.

It could be argued that this is a path well-travelled, with this 208 mirroring the design cues of the 207 that came before it, but I’d argue it holds its own, even in 2019. If you’re after something radically different, the styling on its replacement, due next year, is one to look out for.

On the inside, things are… unique.

There are cushy, deep seats for front occupants, with a super vertical dash design, leading up from the deep-set shifter (an older look) to the top-mounted media screen, which is slick, with its chrome bezel and lack of buttons.

The steering wheel is strongly contoured and covered in nice leather trim. The steering wheel is strongly contoured and covered in nice leather trim.

The steering wheel is awesome. It’s tiny, strongly contoured and covered in nice leather trim. Its small, almost oval shape is super satisfying to wrangle, and enhances the way you interact with the front wheels.

What is extra strange about it is how far separated it is from the dash cluster. The dials are perched way atop the dash in a layout Peugeot refers to as the ‘iCockpit’. This is all very cool and aesthetic and French if you’re my height (182cm), but if you’re particularly short or particularly tall, the wheel begins to obscure vital information.

The dials are perched way atop the dash in a layout Peugeot refers to as the ‘iCockpit’ The dials are perched way atop the dash in a layout Peugeot refers to as the ‘iCockpit’

Other strange things about the cabin mainly involve little bits of plastic of varying quality strewn about the place. While the overall look is very cool, there are some odd bits of chrome trim and hollow black plastics about that probably don’t need to be there.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

The 208 hit me with some surprises here. Firstly, don’t drink and drive this car. And, by that I mean, don’t even begin to think you’ll find a good spot for a decently sized coffee. There are two cupholders under the dash; they are about an inch deep, and narrow enough to accommodate maybe a piccolo latte. Place anything else in there and you’re asking for a spillage.

There’s also an odd little trench there that barely fits a phone, and a top-box arm-rest thing that’s tiny and bound to the driver’s seat. The glovebox is large and also air-conditioned.

The back seats have generous legroom. The back seats have generous legroom.

The front seats offer heaps of room, though, for arms, head and especially legs, and there is no shortage of soft surfaces for elbows.

The back seat was also a surprise. I was expecting it to be an afterthought, as it is in many cars this size, but the 208 delivers, with excellent matching seat trim and generous legroom.

Sadly, that’s where back-seat amenities end. There are tiny trenches in the door, but no air vents or cupholders. You’ll have to make do with just the pockets on the backs of the front seats.

The 208’s boot maxes out a 1152L. The 208’s boot maxes out a 1152L.

Don’t be fooled by the 208’s cropped rear, the boot is deep and grants a surprising 311 litres to the shelf, and maxes out a 1152L with the second row folded down. Also surprising  is the inclusion of a full-size steel spare, stashed under the floor.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   6/10

This Peugeot is never going to be as cheap as a Mazda2 or Suzuki Swift. The current range spans from $21,990 for the base Active to $26,990 for the GT-Line, and that’s all before on-road costs.

Safe to say you’re looking at a $30k hatch then. For the same money you could be hopping into a decently specified Hyundai i30, Toyota Corolla or Mazda3, but Peugeot bank on the fact that this car appeals to a special kind of customer; the emotional buyer.

The 208 comes with 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in some seriously low-profile Michelin Pilot Sport rubber. The 208 comes with 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in some seriously low-profile Michelin Pilot Sport rubber.

Perhaps they had a Peugeot in the past. Perhaps the quirky styling calls out to them. But they aren’t interested in value… per se.

So do you at least get a decent standard spec? The GT-Line comes with a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, built-in sat-nav, 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in some seriously low-profile Michelin Pilot Sport rubber, panoramic fixed glass roof, dual-zone climate control, self-parking function, front and rear parking sensors with a reversing camera, rain sensing wipers, sports bucket seats, auto folding mirrors and GT-Line specific chrome styling touches.

The GT-Line comes with a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen. The GT-Line comes with a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen.

Not bad. The styling is certainly turned up a notch over the regular 208 range and the spec list makes it one of the better-equipped cars in the segment. However, there are some notable omissions which hurt on a car at this price. For example, there’s no option for push-start or LED headlamps.

Safety is okay, but it could use update. More on that in the safety section.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

The regular (that’s non-GTi) 208s are offered with just one engine now. A 1.2-litre turbo petrol three-cylinder, which produces 81kW/205Nm. While that doesn’t sound like an awful lot, it turns out to be plenty for the little 1070kg hatch.

Unlike some notable French manufacturers, Peugeot has seen the light and dumped single-clutch automatics (aka automated manuals) in favour of a six-speed torque converter auto, which does its best to have you not notice it.

The GTi has a stop-start system. The GTi has a stop-start system.

It also has a stop-start system, which might save fuel (I couldn’t objectively prove that it did) but will definitely annoy you at the lights.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

The claimed/combined fuel number for the 208 GT-Line is a slightly unrealistic-sounding 4.5L/100km. Sure enough, after a week of city/highway combined driving, I produced a number of 7.4L/100km. So, a solid miss. Slightly less-enthusiastic driving should see that number drop, but I still don’t see how you could get it down to 4.5L/100km.

The 208 requires a minimum of 95RON mid-range fuel, and has a 50-litre tank. The 208 requires a minimum of 95RON mid-range fuel, and has a 50-litre tank.

The 208 requires a minimum of 95RON mid-range fuel, and has a 50-litre tank.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

The 208 is good fun, and lives up to its heritage of making the most of its lightweight dimensions and small figure to make for an agile city-slicker. The engine outputs might look like just any other hatch in this class, but the turbo comes on nice and strong in an impressively linear fashion.

It makes for reliable and strong acceleration, with the peak 205Nm of torque available at 1500rpm.

A featherweight at 1070kg, you’ll find no complaints from me about its performance. It’s no GTi, but it will still be warm enough for most.

The 208's small steering wheel gives it a thoroughly engaging feel. The 208's small steering wheel gives it a thoroughly engaging feel.

Despite its upright figure, handling is fantastic, too. The low-profile Michelins feel planted at the front and back, and, unlike the GTi, you never really feel at risk of understeer or wheelspin.

This is all enhanced by the intense helm, with the small steering wheel giving it a thoroughly engaging feel. You can chuck this car into corners and down alleyways with enthusiasm, and it feels like it loves it as much as you do.

The suspension is stiff, especially at the rear, and the low-profile rubber makes it noisy on coarse-chip surfaces, but you’ll barely hear a peep out of the little engine. Other notable downsides include the slow-to-react stop-start system (which you can turn off) and the lack of active cruise, which would be nice at this price.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

On the topic of active cruise, this car is showing its age in the safety department. Available active safety is limited to a camera-based city-speed auto emergency braking system (AEB). The lack of a radar, even optionally, means no active cruise or freeway-speed AEB. There’s also no option for blind-spot monitoring (BSM), lane-departure warning (LDW) or lane-keep assist (LKAS).

Sure, we’re talking about a car which largely dates back to 2012, but you can get cars a full size up with all those features for close to the same money from Korea and Japan.

On the more impressive side, you get an above-average set of six airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners and rear ISOFIX child-seat mounting points, as well as the expected set of electronic braking and stability aids. A reversing camera is also now standard.

The 208 previously held a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating from 2012, but that rating is limited to four-cylinder variants, which have since been phased out. Three-cylinder cars remain un-rated.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Peugeot offers a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty on its entire range of passenger cars, which is up-to-date and in-line with most segment competitors.

The 208 requires servicing at yearly or 15,000km intervals (whichever occurs first) and has a fixed price to the length of the warranty.

Peugeot offers a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty on its entire range of passenger cars. Peugeot offers a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty on its entire range of passenger cars.

Servicing is not cheap, with yearly visits costing between $397 and $621, although there’s nothing on the optional extras list, that price is all-inclusive.

Total cost over the five-year period is $2406 for an (expensive) average of $481.20 a year.

Verdict

The 208 GT-Line is hardly a car purchased on its value offering; it’s an emotional purchase. Fans of the brand know it, even Peugeot knows it.

Here’s the thing, though, the GT-Line looks the part, is true-to-its-roots in how fun it is to drive, and will surprise most with its spacious dimensions and decent spec level. So, while it might be an emotional buy, it’s not necessarily a bad one.

Have you owned a Peugeot in the past? Share your story in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$26,740
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$21,990
Highest Price
$31,490

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Active 1.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $21,990 2019 Peugeot 208 2019 Active Pricing and Specs
Allure 1.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $24,990 2019 Peugeot 208 2019 Allure Pricing and Specs
GT-Line 1.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $26,990 2019 Peugeot 208 2019 GT-Line Pricing and Specs
GTi 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $31,490 2019 Peugeot 208 2019 GTi Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.1
Design7
Practicality7
Price and features6
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption7
Driving8
Safety7
Ownership7
Tom White
Journalist

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