Motoring: Old friendship blossoms in Peugeot 208

During the first Covid-19 lockdown, I spent a lot of time with a Peugeot 208 Allure.

Because I was one of those people with permission to drive outside my 5km exclusion zone, the small French car and myself ended up becoming the best of friends.

Maybe it was because there were many times when we were the only ones on the road or that the car performed with ease, but whatever the reason, the 208 and I really bonded.

Having recently had the opportunity to drive a higher-spec GT version of the 208, meeting the nice-looking metallic grey 208 was akin to meeting an old friend. Thankfully our acquaintance this time was not as lonely as our first one as the roads were back to pre-pandemic levels of busyness.

Peugeot’s 208 is a supermini that ticks a lot of boxes, thanks to its range of power sources, transmissions and trim levels.

Available in a choice of petrol, diesel and electric formats, the pretty Peugeot is also offered with five- and six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic transmissions.

Unlike some other manufacturers who are limiting the choice of powerplants to customers, I admire Peugeot’s decision to allow buyers make up their own minds and choose between petrol, diesel or all-electric power.

Like our first get together, the five-door Peugeot still managed to lift my spirits every time I sat behind its small steering wheel.

No matter what is going on in this world, it’s still hard to ignore beauty – and the 208 is a very attractive supermini in its own right.

Longer, wider and lower than its predecessor, this is simply a gorgeous small car. With the lion symbol standing out proudly in the centre of the large grille, its sculpted bonnet, wide-shaped wings and beautiful body curves demand attention. Light signatures also play a major part in helping this car stand out from the crowd.

With full LED 3-claw headlight signatures and fang-like LEDs that run down the bumper giving the front of the car one of the smartest appearances out there, the designers also got the car’s rear styling spot-on.

Sitting on diamond-cut alloy wheels, you couldn’t but be impressed when you climb inside the 208. The detail of the car’s excellent build quality is there for all to see. The quality of the materials used, the precise fit of the controls, the well-positioned touchscreen and the pretty toggle switches add that special touch of class to the high-tech interior.

The stylish Peugeot is offered in basic Active, mid-range Allure and top GT-Line specifications. I would recommend potential customers at least try and opt for the Allure or GT versions because,

while all models feature a new generation of the Peugeot i-Cockpit, the latter come with a 3D instrument panel.

This is a must-have piece of high-tech gadgetry whereby the upper digital pad projects information in hologram form; it’s one piece of kit well worth paying extra for.

Offering anything from 311 to 1,106 litres of boot space, my test model came with supportive leather effect/cloth seating. The small flat top and bottom steering wheel shows a new dimension to how a vehicle can be controlled.

Apart from the car’s pretty styling, its striking high-tech interior, excellent handling ability and comfort levels, the most important reason for our friendship blossoming once again was the Peugeot’s enjoyable and easy driving characteristics.

My test car was powered by a 1.2 litre Puretech petrol engine that produces 100bhp (75bhp also available on the starting model). It offers three power modes (Eco, Normal and Sport) and the gutsy engine was married to an easy and precise eight-speed automatic transmission controlled by a smaller lever - truly the icing on the cake.

I’d suggest at least sampling this wonderfully smooth and relaxing automatic transmission before signing on the dotted line.

This handsome French supermini is easily capable of returning 6.1 litres/100km (46mpg) when driven in Eco mode.

Technically on-point, stylish and great fun to drive, it’s the type of car I can only hope to meet again.

Price: GT version €27,780. Prices commence from €22,370.