REVIEW: Peugeot 208 1.2T Allure manual
Johannesburg – So let’s start off with a confession of sorts. My 25-year-old self is going to cringe when I say this, but I think I’m becoming a bit lazy for manual gearboxes. It’s not my fault of course, as the majority of test cars I drive no longer require me to swop cogs on my own, and all those clutch-in-clutch-out efforts can quickly become a distant memory when you’ve been spoiled for long enough.
Thankfully once in a while something comes along that reminds me of why I fell in love with cars in the first place, and that’s exactly what happened when the Peugeot 208 1.2T Allure landed on my driveway for a week-long test recently.
Granted, the manual gearbox can make this car a bit laborious to drive in urban traffic, but find a quiet road somewhere and the Peugeot is a delight to drive. Compact, brisk and agile are words that come to mind here.
The mid-spec Allure that we tested is available in two variants, a six-speed manual at R365 900 and a six-speed auto model that has a price tag of R396 900. And while everyone wants the GT version with its lavish design package, this is a somewhat expensive indulgence, at R443 900.
The Peugeot 208 is a really good looking car, and one that frequently attracts admiration from those who see it. And while the GT is the catwalk model of the range, the mid-spec Allure actually looks the part too, even with its smaller 16-inch alloys.
Both Allure variants are powered by the familiar 1.2-litre PureTech three-cylinder turbopetrol engine, but in manual guise it has a bit less power, with 74kW and 205Nm being available, versus 96kW and 230Nm in the auto.
But in performance terms it’s unlikely that you’re going to feel short-changed in the manual version. This model feels brisk in urban traffic and it has more than enough power to overtake safely on rural roads at higher speeds.
This is a really well engineered car. It handles very neatly and the steering has a positive and well weighted feel to it. Overall refinement is also top notch as the 208 is well insulated and the suspension comfortably soaks up rougher road surfaces.
Many people find the driving position to be a bit iffy though. Although I didn’t have trouble getting comfortable behind the wheel some people find that the small steering wheel obscures the instrument cluster from their preferred seating position, so if you’re test driving one of these make doubly sure that you can get comfortable behind the wheel.
So we’ve established that the Peugeot 208 is fun to drive as well as comfortable and refined, but one area where it falls a bit short is practicality.
Despite being only slightly shorter than the Volkswagen Polo, and boasting a similar wheelbase, the Peugeot’s rear seating zone is somewhat cramped compared to most rivals in this segment. That might not be a problem for single folk and couples without kids, but this car is not exactly going to thrive as a family car, especially not for those with larger kids.
The boot is reasonably capacious however, with Peugeot claiming a luggage capacity of 311 litres.
But the front of the cabin is where the party’s really at. You sink into cosy and supportive seats, upholstered in a cloth and synthetic leather combo and the dashboard, with its carbon fibre inspired inlays, appears to wrap around the driver. Like its 2008 crossover sibling, this hatchback also comes with Peugeot’s snazzy ‘3D i-Cockpit’ digital instrument cluster, which makes the binnacles in most other cars appear seriously outdated.
Ergonomic user friendliness is not this car’s strongest suit though. The Active and Allure models come with a 7.0-inch capacitive touchscreen infotainment system with six speakers and given the lack of buttons and knobs on the dashboard, you also have to use this for most of the climate controls, which can be distracting.
Other standard features in the Allure model include push-button start, rear parking sensors, multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, auto headlights, automatic climate control, 180-degree parking camera, electrochrome rear view mirror as well as dark tinted rear side and tailgate windows. Safety kit comes in the form of ESP stability control, tyre pressure monitor and six airbags.
If you’re young at heart and practicality isn’t at the top of your wish list, the Peugeot 208 is a very desirable little package. It looks good and also impresses with its handling, performance and ride comfort, while the cabin feels like it’s a notch or two above the norm.
It’s easy to understand why this is Peugeot South Africa’s best selling car at the moment as there is a lot to like. It can get a bit pricey if you want the auto model, but thankfully the manual Allure that we had on test really is a hoot to drive.
FACTS: Peugeot 208 1.2T Allure
Price: R365 900 (March 2022)
Engine: 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder, turbopetrol
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Drive: Front-wheel drive
Power: 74kW @ 5500rpm
Torque: 205Nm @ 1750rpm
0-100km/h: 9.9 seconds (claimed)
Top speed: 188km/h (claimed)
Fuel use: 5.8 litres per 100km (claimed)
Boot capacity: 311 – 1106 litres
Warranty: 5-year/100 000km
Service plan: 3-year/60 000km