Peugeot 208 GT 1.2 PureTech 130 review: Why there's life in the Peugeot 208 yet

Steve Teale founds a lot to enjoy with the Peugeot 208 GT 1.2 PureTech 130 – especially the beautifully-designed cabin and its well balanced and refined ride.

The motoring world is a fickle one at the moment, but one thing’s for sure. There is life in the old supermini yet. We have heard in recent times that the Ford Fiesta is finished and that Volvo will now only make SUVs.

Who would ever have imagined such a thing a decade ago when Fiesta was king of the road and Volvos built estates by the shipload for Labrador-owning middle England?

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But worry not, you traditionalists – the Peugeot 208 will be around for a little while yet. Quite what form it will be is anyone’s guess. Electric seems to be the power of choice but I reckon petrol will thrive beyond 2030, despite what here-today-gone-tomorrow ministers spout. And if I was a betting man I’d put a fiver on hydrogen as a fancied outsider.

Peugeot 208 GT 1.2 PureTech 130Peugeot 208 GT 1.2 PureTech 130
Peugeot 208 GT 1.2 PureTech 130

And while big-hitters like Fiesta shrivel, the 208 is in a good position to continue. My memories of the hatchback Peugeot go back to the 1980s when I had to choose between a Ford Fiesta XR2 and a Peugeot 205 GTi.

Budget constraints meant I went for the Ford, but my heart was always with the 205. I had a perma-tanned colleague called Clive who drove a silver one. It was hard to work out who was the cooler – Clive or the car.

Fast forward half a lifetime and the 205 GTi has become the 208 GT. It isn’t quite as rapid but it remains a smart choice. What it lacks in out and out power, it makes up in refinement.

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It has a much smaller engine – 1.2 litre – but it can still impress at the lights. Economy and insurance pressures mean it is slower but more economical but somehow it remains as exciting. It’s certainly as good looking. If only all small hatches combined elegance and aggression quite as well.

So, what are its best features? It looks brilliant on the outside but for me it’s the cabin which is triumphant. The wonderful array of switches is so easy to get to grips with and the tiny PlayStation-sized steering wheel makes it a wonderful car to steer. It’s not often you say that.

The boot is ample at 265 litres and the front seats are adequate. Travelling in the rear is tight and in fact getting in and out of the front doors took a knack.

On the road, it is well balanced and refined. I didn’t believe this was a 1.2 litre three-cylinder engine but I checked and it was. Such weedy engines used to be tinny and asthmatic. Not this one, it’s bright, breezy and nippy.

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It has a delightful cabin with a trademark small steering wheel. It feels like a computer game or one of those wheels in a racing car and it is brilliant. So easy to get to grips with.

Peugeot recently facelifted the 208 which brings styling revisions along with an increased range in the case of the electric e-208.

The second-generation 208 was introduced in 2020, and went onto become Europe’s most popular new car in 2021 and 2022. Despite only being on sale for a relatively short period, Peugeot has now revised it with similar updates seen to other models in its line-up, including the latest 508 and 2008.

This latest 208 adopts Peugeot’s latest lighting signature, with new three-claw’ LED lights at the front, positioned low in the bumper. The front end in general gets a full redesign incorporating a new integral, colour-coded grille which is also larger than before.

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Around the rear, there are new horizontal LED lights, while three are two new colours available – a bold Agueda Yellow and Selenium Grey. Various new wheel designs are also offered.

Some of the main changes are under the surface, however, with the electric e-208 getting a larger 51kWh battery and more powerful motor, as seen on Peugeot’s new e-2008 and various other Stellantis products.

This sees the range increase to 248 miles – up from 224. A new 1.2-litre mild-hybrid petrol engine is also available with outputs of 100bhp and 136bhp, though regular petrol engines will also be on offer.

Inside, the new 208 features a large 10-inch touchscreen as standard, including wireless smartphone mirroring. A 10-inch digital instrument cluster is also included from mid-spec models upwards. The wireless smartphone charging is more powerful than before as well, while there are additional USB sockets throughout the cabin.

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Orders for the revised Peugeot 208 are set to open in October, with prices likely to start from around £21,000.

Peugeot is on a surge at the moment in this class. It is the leader in its market – what industry bods call the B-segment.

The 208 was the best-selling car in Europe on the passenger car market in 2022 and its 100 per cent electric version, the e-208, was also the best-selling car in Europe in the electric B-segment.

The 208 has scooped awards, too. The 208 and the e-208 were named used small car of the year at the Car Dealer Used Car awards.

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The 208 impressed judges with its striking design, efficient powertrains and comfortable ride.

Car Dealer judges were particularly impressed by the 208’s range of efficient petrol, diesel and electric powertrains, as well as its overall refinement and eye-catching design that helps it stand out on the road. Its strong value proposition was also scored highly by judges.