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Peugeot 208


Hyundai i30

Summary

Peugeot 208

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 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.

Safety rating
Engine Type1.2L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency4.5L/100km
Seating5 seats

Hyundai i30

The Hyundai i30 Sedan is the artist formerly known as the Elantra, with the brand renaming its small-car sedan to make a little more sense in its line-up. 

But it's more than an Elantra with a new name. The all-new i30 Sedan rides on a new platform, wears a new design, carries new technology and new safety equipment, and falls under a new - and more expensive - price structure. 

Is that enough to put sedans back on the small-car map? Or is it destined to play second fiddle the i30 hatch? Let's find out. 

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Peugeot 2087.1/10

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.


Hyundai i307.8/10

The i30 Sedan improved on the Elantra formula in every way, provided the new and adventurous design language speaks to your tastes. It does feel more advanced in the cabin than it does under the bonnet, though.

Design

Peugeot 2087/10

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.

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.

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 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.

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.


Hyundai i307/10

The i30 Sedan continues Hyundai's adventurous Sensuous Sportiness design language, though CarsGuide opinions are a little split on how successfully it's been applied here. 

The front-end looks sharp and shapely, with a cat-clawed bonnet split by two swept-back headlights. The bonnet points down towards the tarmac, with these angular inverts on either side that, in Elite models, house deep-set fog lights. 

The body, too, is a collection of sharp lines and angles, but both it and the front-on view look accomplished and premium, in our humble opinion.

It's the rear, though, that raises the questions, with the lip of the boot jutting out dramatically before angling in sharply before jutting back out again, a little little a pyramid laying on its side. It's adventurous, no doubt, but it might not be to everyone's taste. 

The ambience in the cabin of the i30 Sedan depends on which one you're sitting in. The Elite models are lovely - all quality-feeling materials (save the hard plastics on the upper doors), including a vaguely denim-feeling fabric that trims the inner door panels, and those big twin screens that feel plenty tech savvy. 

The Active model makes do without the niceties, though, feeling decidedly cheaper inside - a feeling not helped by the fact the smaller 8.0-inch touchscreen is housed in the same surround as the bigger 10.25-inch screen, meaning you're suddenly confronted by a lot of flat, black plastic.

Practicality

Peugeot 2087/10

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 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.

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.


Hyundai i308/10

It's a small sedan, but it doesn't feel small. It's longer and more practical than the hatch, for example - at least in terms of seats-up boot space - and there's a surprising amount of room for rear-seat passengers, too.

This is a seriously spacious backseat - at least for those in the window seats - with a heap of room between my knees and my own 175cm driving position, and plenty of headroom, too. Yes, three adults across the back will prove a squeeze - this is a small car, after all - but two can ride in comfort.

The rear seat is split by a pulldown divider that's home to two cupholders, there's bottle storage in the doors, and two ISOFIX attachment points, too.

Upfront, the cabin feels plenty spacious, and the light-coloured, denim-look materials used in the Elite models add a sense of airiness not found in the cheaper, more plasticky Active models. Up front riders get cupholders, bottle holders in the doors, twin USB connection points, a power outlet, and wireless charging for phones.

Cubbies abound, too, including one at knee height under the dash, and more in the doors and centre console.

Hyundai says the i30 Sedan will swallow some 474 litres (VDA) of luggage, up from 395 litres in the hatch - with the rear seats in place - and around 1350L with the seats folded flat.

Price and features

Peugeot 2086/10

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.

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.

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.


Hyundai i308/10

The i30 Sedan range kicks off with the Active trim, available as a six-speed manual ($24,790) or a six-speed automatic ($26,790), before stepping up to the auto-only Elite trim at $30,790 - all about $3000 more than the hatch.

Before the end of the year they'll be joined by the sporty-flavoured N Line models, available in manual ($30,290) or seven-speed DCT automatic ($32,390), or the fancy-feeling N Line Premium, for $37,290.

Active cars get 17-inch alloy wheels, a leather-appointed interior, wireless smartphone charging, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a comprehensive safety suite - which we'll circle back to under the Safety sub heading. 

Elite cars add dual-zone climate control, twin 10.25-inch screens - one in the centre of the dash, the other in front of the driver - with satellite navigation, a BOSE eight-speaker stereo and DAB+ digital radio.

Finally, N Line cars will add a sportier engine, unique bodykit with new-look front and rear bumpers, and a new mesh grille. There's also twin exhaust tips, LED headlights and taillights, and 18-inch alloys, while the N Line Premium adds a sunroof, front parking sensors, 10-way power adjustable, heated and ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel. 

Engine & trans

Peugeot 2088/10

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.

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.


Hyundai i307/10

It's a pretty tried and true powertrain this, with the i30 Sedan Active and Elite both fitted with Hyundai's 2.0-litre petrol engine producing 117kW and 191Nm, pairing with a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic.

The combo feels dependable, rather than exhilarating, but does produce enough grunt to get you humming along easily enough. Frustratingly, there are some super-clever hybrid-assisted powertrains available internationally, but we don't get them in Australia. At least, not yet.

Fuel consumption

Peugeot 2087/10

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.


Hyundai i308/10

Hyundai says the 2.0-litre engine will sip around 7.0L/100km on the combined cycle, but is yet to reveal C02 emissions.

Driving

Peugeot 2088/10

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.

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.


Hyundai i308/10

It's not an excitement machine, the i30 Sedan (the incoming N Line models with their turbocharged engines should better fulfil that role) but what it lacks in outright speed it makes up for with its road manners. 

We came away impressed with its ride and handling balance, with the newest Hyundai feeling genuinely competent in corners - so much so that we were longing for more grunt - yet comfortable on the dodgy road surfaces of the city, too. 

Part of that is likely down to Hyundai's local chassis tuning, but could also be down to the fact the Sedan rides on a new and different platform (the K3) to its hatch sibling. Either way, this i30 balances the dual roles of comfort and connection to the road below with aplomb. 

There are some downsides, though. The engine, though providing enough shove to move you around fairly easily, lacks the urgency required for overtaking or for spirited take-offs. Instead, planting your right foot makes things get louder and more gruff in the cabin, without producing much in the way of extra performance. You're far better off treating it gently, and letting it do its thing without asking too much of it. 

It's an easy, breezy, largely care-free drive. It won't get your heart beating any faster, but nor will it have you kung-fu-gripping the steering wheel in frustration. But we do wish Hyundai could have gotten its hands on those European mild-hybrid engines.

Safety

Peugeot 2087/10

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.


Hyundai i308/10

Safety is an interesting one, given Hyundai won't be submitting this vehicle for ANCAP testing. Recent changes to the testing regime require the addition of a central airbag to qualify for a full five-star rating, and the i30 Sedan doesn't have one, meaning it would likely max out at four stars.

Does that mean it's unsafe? Nope. Just that ANCAP's testing requirements are moving quickly, and not all cars have managed to keep up.

You'll find six airbags, along with the usual braking and traction aids, before the tech steps up to the active safety stuff, like AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, as well as junction detection, plus lane keep assist, lane following assist and active cruise - all in the Active model. The Elite trim then adds blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking sensors. 

Ownership

Peugeot 2087/10

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.

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.


Hyundai i308/10

The Hyundai i30 Sedan is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, and requires servicing every 15,000kms. Capped-price servicing is available throughout, too.