The French have not always been as popular for their cars as they are for their food, but you can trust them to make a stylish car. Peugeot is hitting all the right tastebuds with the all new Peugeot 208 1.2T Allure.
Style comes at a price. The 208 range starts from R306 900 in South Africa and makes you spoilt for choice with manual or automatic, and petrol, diesel or electric options. I got to spend some time with the 2020 European car of the year.
First impressions matter, and “it’s a beautiful car” is a popular comment that came from some of the Mail & Guardian team when they got a first look at the Peugeot in the car park. So let’s read the catwalk-worthy exterior from front to rear.
Picture an elegant, feisty lion on the hunt. The grille is much wider in this second generation of the 208 and runs into the sabretooth lights, featuring the fang-like bright LED daytime lights. These cat’s claws have been trimmed to perfection with the rear light Peugeot signature and a spoiler for the six-speed manual looker.
Let’s dissect the interior
Attention to detail was paid with the seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, the third-generation i-cockpit, keyless start and leather-wrapped steering wheel, which is almost racecar-size and can go below the dashboard. Textured matte details and gloss finishes on the dashboard and the insides of the doors come alive in the nighttime with carbon-fibre inlays. The seats have been upholstered with synthetic leather and cloth, and are pleasantly comfortable.
Experiencing the third generation i-cockpit for the first time was interesting. The main issue was the 3D digital driver display. Switching on the car for the first time, you might be caught between whether to whip out the 3D glasses and popcorn or to start driving. It took a couple of minutes of driving the car for my eyes to adjust to the new 3D display, which was a bit of a distraction.
The no-button infotainment system is also a great concept, but is practically challenging when driving because you have to touch the screen even to regulate the climate control. Further nitpicks are the placement of the handbrake is a bit too close to the passenger’s seat and the cup holders are too far to the back.
One of my favourite features is the auto-dimming rear-view mirror. For someone with photosensitive eyes, this is a gem. No amount of sunlight or bright lights formed behind me prospered.
SOME FACTS ABOUT THE CAR:
Front-wheel drive, five-year/100 000km mechanical warranty, three-year/60 000km service plan, ABS anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution (EBD), emergency brake assist (EBA), dual front and curtain airbags, 17’’ Caesium alloy wheels, 50l tank capacity
Does it purr as well as it loafs?
I live about 80km away from work, so fuel efficient, yet powerful is what I look for. The 1.2-litre engine in the Peugeot sips petrol thoughtfully, making it convenient, especially with the regular fuel hikes in South Africa. The idea of a manual transmission when you live in one of the busiest cities in the country might be unsettling, but the 208 makes it a smooth drive with its soft clutch and light gear changes.
A road trip to a friend’s house in Bedfordview from the Vaal for a braai was a sweet drive. And the boot was particularly put to the test with some groceries during this trip. All the braai must-haves fit in the 311-litre boot. The car is not particularly spacious and the seats take up a reasonable amount of space, but a few friends could tag along for the ride.
The 74kW power and 205 Nm torque in-line three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine of the mid-spec Allure showed off when I was driving on the R59 from the Vaal Triangle into Ekurhuleni on a sunny and slightly breezy Saturday afternoon. After this road trip and a few traffic jammed trips to work, the combined cycle fuel consumption was at 5.4 litres/100km.
Hit or miss?
The 208 is an alluring hit and should be a strong contender for anyone in the market for a new car. It’s not too far up the price range, there are a few options to choose from; it’s fuel efficient and comfortable. Overall, an attractive car.
Lineo Leteba is an associate social media and podcast editor at the Mail & Guardian.