New Peugeot 208 is a city car done right

Peugeot is on a roll with the design of its latest models, and nothing makes this fact more evident than the all-new 2019 208 hatchback. It is a design tour de force, both inside and out, and it therefore can be viewed as a spiritual successor to the much loved 206 from the 1990s and early 2000s. “Futuristic and Young” are the two guiding themes Peugeot uses to describe the 208. And, they describe it perfectly. It looks fresh, yet somehow cozy and familiar, plus it also has its own identity - it doesn’t look like a smaller version of the 308, in a segment where this scaled down cookie cutter approach is common. Take the new Renault Clio, for instance. It looks like a shrunken down Megane while the new VW Polo could easily be mistaken for the golf.

Exterior

  • Has design cues from larger 508
  • Bold, fresh design that’s not overdone
  • Only sporty GT Line shown so far
2019 Peugeot 208
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There is no model cross-breeding with the 2018 Peugeot 208, as it blends a unique interpretation of Peugeot’s current design formula with a slight futuristic twist. It certainly looks more daring than what some other automakers are parading around as concepts nowadays.

The most striking parts of the front end have to be the oversized grille, the power bulge on the hood, and, of course, the very long daytime running lights that run all the way down the bumper.

Not all new 208s will look as good as the blue and yellow examples in the press photos, though, as Peugeot only revealed the 208 in GT Line guise. This trim essentially has sportier bumpers (complete with a real twin exhaust tip in the rear), a different (larger) grille, and big wheels - the aim is to make it look like the hotter GT or GTi models without actually having the performance to match the looks.

2019 Peugeot 208
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Those big daytime running lights are probably only standard on higher trim level models - as is the case with the new 508, lower trim level models come with more basic headlights, and the big LED strip is replaced with chrome. Some of the drama of seeing a fully kitted up 508 is lost when you see a lower spec model, and I suspect the same will be true for the 208 (maybe even more so).

Interior

  • Like the exterior, interior design is 508-inspired
  • New generation i-Cockpit
  • Three infotainment screen sizes
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Peugeot hasn’t shied away from continuing the bold design inside. It still hasn’t given up on the high-placed dials and low, small steering wheel solution - this way of doing things may not be as comfortable to all drivers, but it certainly adds to the futuristic vibe inside.

The dashboard is very bold and sculptural; the upper part looks like it gracefully presents the digital gauge cluster and the infotainment screens to you.

The latter will be available in three sizes: 5-, 7- or 10-inch, and you can imagine the screen in these press photos is the largest one.

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The automaker says “instrument panel display information can be read at two levels. On the upper digital pad, information is projected in hologram form. The data is dynamic, being displayed closer or further to the driver’s eye as a function of importance or urgency, thus increasing reactivity by around half a second. This feature was added as part of a new generation of what Peugeot calls “i-Cockpit.”

Drivetrain

  • New e-208 EV version
  • One gasoline, one diesel at launch
  • No official mention of hot versions yet
2019 Peugeot 208
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Underpinning all of this flamboyant French sheet metal is PSA’s CMP architecture - it stands for Common Modular Platform. Peugeot says it is around 30 kilograms or about 66 pounds lighter than the car it replaces and, for the first time ever, there’s a fully-electric model in the lineup too.

Called the e-208, it is motivated by a 136-horsepower electric motor that also packs quite a lot of torque - 260 Nm or 192 pound-feet to be exact.

Acceleration from naught to 62 mph or 100 km/h takes a claimed 8.1 seconds, and Peugeot says the car’s 50-kWh battery pack is good for 211 miles or 340 km according to WLTP guidelines.

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The lineup of conventional engines is currently limited to two: a 1.2-liter gasoline engine with 75 horsepower and a 1.5-liter turbo diesel with 100 horsepower. The former is mated to a five-speed manual while the latter comes with a six-speed stick.

Sometime after the car reaches showrooms, Peugeot will also add a 130-horsepower, turbocharged, 1.2-liter engine to the range, and it will only be available with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

No mention of hotter versions of the all-new 2019 Peugeot 208 were made in the official blurb, but we’re convinced that the hot GTi and maybe warm GT models will be added later on in the car’s lifecycle.

Pricing

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Peugeot has not yet announced pricing for the 208, but it will probably be announced not long after the car’s Geneva motor show debut. The current 208 range kicks off at under €10,000, but you will pay a lot more than twice that if you want a fully-specced 208 GTi.

Competition

Renault Clio

2019 Renault Clio
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The all-new Peugeot 208’s main rival has to be the all-new Renault Clio. Like the 208, the Clio is a great looking car, although it somehow feels less original than the Peugeot. Renault has gone for a more traditional looking interior in the Clio, but it’s still all very minimalist and dominated by a big central tablet infotainment screen and fully-digital gauge cluster. Nobody’s driven either of these two cars, so we can’t compare their driving dynamics yet and, since both seem to have an extra air of sportiness over their predecessors, the result could be surprising.

Read our full review on the 2019 Renault Clio

Volkswagen Polo

2018 Volkswagen Polo Exterior High Resolution Wallpaper quality
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Now, while the VW Polo may look dull both inside and out, there is nothing dull about how well it’s screwed together or just how well it drives. It’s really at the top of the class in both of these areas, as well as in terms of space and practicality. If the new 208 stands any chance of reliving the glory days of the old 206, then it also needs to prove competitive against extremely well thought out rivals like the Polo. And, the fact that the current Polo drives so well makes it an even more menacing rival in the segment compared to Polos of old.

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Polo

Final Thoughts

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The new 208 is a great looking car. It really doesn’t seem to have one bad angle, and that interior looks just as good as the exterior. If other recent Peugeots are anything to go by, interior materials and assembly quality will be pretty good too. So, it definitely has the visual boxes ticked, but with the new electric version, it may also attract new buyers that would otherwise never have considered a 208, or any Peugeot for that matter.

Journalists need to get behind the wheel of one first before we are able to make an accurate judgment of how well it drives, how comfortable it is, and how it stacks up against its rivals (most of which are also new models that have only just been launched).

The 2019 208 will bow at the 2019 Geneva motor show, and you will be able to order one in Europe starting March 2019.

Further reading

2017 Peugeot 208 Active Design High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the previous generation 2017 Peugeot 208.

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