New Peugeot 208: reservations open for petrol, diesel and EV models

Peugeot has begun taking reservations for its next-generation 208 supermini, which will be offered with a choice of petrol, diesel and electric power.

The 208, which made its public debut at the Geneva motor show following last month’s global reveal, isn’t set to go on sale in the UK until 2020, with order books opening later this summer – but public demand has meant Peugeot is now accepting early reservations.

Buyers can pay a refundable £500 deposit to secure their choice of GT Line Puretech 100 petrol with 8-speed automatic, BlueHDi 100 diesel with 6-speed manual, or the electric e-208. They will be contacted once orders begin to confirm their choice, and will be the first to be offered test drives. 

Around 4cm longer, lower and 30kg lighter than the car it replaces, the new 208 will offer a “more dynamic stance” than the previous one, according to Yann Beurel, the 208’s design manager, who describes its looks as “futuristic and young”. 

The car is five-door only and based on Peugeot’s new CMP (Common Modular Platform) architecture, which underpins the latest DS 3 Crossback. It will form the basis for the next Vauxhall Corsa now that Vauxhall-Opel has been integrated into the PSA Group. 

Codenamed P21, the new 208 will offer its three powertrain options “without any compromises”, according to 208 product manager Nicolas Bonnardon. 

At launch, it will come with a petrol 1.2-litre tuned for 75bhp (with a five-speed manual), 99bhp (six-speed manual) or 128bhp (eight-speed automatic); a 99bhp 1.5-litre diesel (six-speed manual); and a 136bhp electric powertrain. 

Bonnardon told Autocar that, on the new WLTP legislative drive cycle, the electric 208 will have a range of up to 211 miles thanks to a 50kWh battery, which can be charged to 80% from empty in 30 minutes. 

All variants are front-wheel drive. Batteries for the electric 208 will sit in an H-section stretching beneath the rear seats, which is where the fuel tank is on internally combusted (ICE) variants, to beneath the front seats. 

Visually, bar some colouring on the front, the badges and the addition of aerodynamic wheel trims, there will be very little difference between ICE and EV 208s because PSA thinks EVs and plug-in hybrids will become a natural part of each car’s range. 

“We wondered if customers would want specificity on an EV,” said Beurel. “But they said they ‘didn’t want a flag on the top’ so the frontal intake takes body colour and there’s a blue-green tint on the lion badges.” 

In the UK, trim levels will be Active, Allure, GT-Line and, exclusive to the EV, GT. On the GT-Line and GT, black wheel-arch extensions are applied because the two versions get a 12mm-wider track than lesser 208s. On the GT-Line, it’s for effect only, but the EV’s powertrain necessitates it because its front axle comes with a wider stance. Wheel sizes are 16in or 17in. Peugeot’s designers, like a lot of companies, would prefer larger, but “in this segment, cost is important”, said Beurel. 

Inside, the 208 gets an update of Peugeot’s still-controversial i-Cockpit, which features a small steering wheel that tends to sit beneath or, for some drivers, in the line of sight of the instrument pack. 

Bar the option of a night-vision camera, convenience, driver assist and infotainment systems on offer in the new 208 are the same as in the bigger, more expensive 508. But there’s new equipment in the 208, too, including a neat three-dimensional element to the instrument cluster. Using a reflective screen as in a head-up display, the most important info can be brought to a small screen in front of the main instrument pack. 

“What’s important is that it’s not entertainment: it’s information,” said Beurel. “It’s spectacular but it’s really useful when driving.” 

In addition, the EV version of the 208 features pre-heating and cooling via a smartphone app. All 208s include a wrap-around dashboard, with a central 10.0in touchscreen on higher-trim levels and a 7.0in version on lower-trim variants, and all cars get four USB ports. 

And if the i-Cockpit layout has its critics? “We’ve sold five million cars with the i-Cockpit,” said Beurel, “and customers are telling us that they’re happy with it.”

Q&A with Gilles Vidal, Peugeot design boss

What’s the thinking behind the new 208’s design? 

“Basically, the idea was to make sure we were doing a sexy little hot hatch, in a modern kind of way. If you look at 206, 207, 208 along the years, the generations became more mono-spacey-looking, which was maybe a trend of the 1990s, 2000s. But here we wanted to have this really amazing sexy-looking, four-wheels-in-the-corners cute thing.” 

Is that why the windscreen has moved rearwards? 

“Sure. And to achieve this look, you don’t just need the silhouette. You need to have muscle. Not too much, and some shoulder but not too much, and the wheels in each corner, ideally. Hence the idea of having these added-on black pieces.” 

What’s it like without them? 

“When you do not have them, the body is quite sculpted, so it casts a strong shadow and the form makes the wheel look bigger and the wheel right in each corner of the car.” 

Is that hard to achieve? 

“In the automotive industry, there are more things in the nose so overhangs grow bigger and bigger. The obvious example is if you look at Minis: the first, second and third one. Every time you have to add more and more material [to meet safety regulations]. So the idea for us was to trick all those constraints to end up with a cute little thing with ideal proportions as much as we could.”