THE supermini segment of the UK car market is the second largest in Britain with cars such as the Fiesta, Corsa, Polo and Mini so the latest competitor in this crowded sector is going to compete against some formidable rivals, writes Bryan Longworth.
It is the Peugeot 208 which has replaced the 207 and early indications are that it is going to provide a supermini that should put up a good fight.
As soon as I saw the 208 outside my home I thought its stylish body looked good and a young man who is very knowledgable about automobiles exclaimed “This is a nice car” when I picked him up from school - small boys can always pick out a good car!
For the 208 not only looks good on the outside especially with its snazzy daytime running lights but it has a very well designed interior including the smallest steering wheel I have ever encountered apart from one feature which I have reservations about and will mention later.
My test car was the 208 three door Allure with the 1.6 92bhp diesel engine which has CO2 emissions of 98g/km meaning there is no road tax to pay.
It has a top speed of 115mph a zero to 62mph time of 12.2 seconds and a combined fuel consumption of 74.3mpg which in the real world means that the owner of this model should get at least an impressive 65mpg.
The test car cost £15,445 which is towards the top end of the model range that starts at £9,995 and rises to £17,845 with a limited edition model known as Ice Velvet priced at £18,495.
208 is 114kg lighter on average than the 207 which is quite a big weight loss helping to improve fuel consumption but the new model also has more rear passenger space and a larger boot.
The 208 is a good performer on the road with good handling and steering and the five speed manual gearbox provided some very slick changes and I also liked the instrumentation.
The 16” Helium alloy wheels attracted plenty of admirers and standard kit includes those attention grabbing LED daytime running lights, sports seats, automatic wipers and headlights and automatic dual zone air conditioning and electrochrome rear view mirror.
Which brings me to the reservation involving the steering wheel and seeing the instrument panel perched very close above it. I was always conscious of seeing the top of the steering wheel no matter how I adjusted it when looking at the two speedometers - probably why they have such a small steering wheel in the car but I suppose owners will get used to this situation.
There is no doubt that the 208 faces intense competition in this crowded market sector but it is a small car with a lot going for it and it should find plenty of buyers because of its street appeal with its cool styling and its enjoyable overall driveability.
My Verdict: A formidable French supermini.