Peugeot 208

Turbo-triple enters; out pops a French treat

BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

HOLDEN Kingswood HX to HZ. Porsche 924 to 944.

Federal LNP ’13 to today.

All copped changed internals to significantly improve the breed.

After the second-gen 308’s supernova regeneration in 2014, its older 208 stablemate has now undergone a facelift (that it didn’t need) and a heart transplant (that it was crying out for) to dramatically boost the Mazda 2-sized baby’s potential.

Slightly curbed output-wise from its bigger bro, the French five-door’s 1.2-litre three-cylinder ‘Pure Tech’ scores an 81kW/205Nm turbo with idle-stop. Gone are all 88kW/160Nm 1.6-litre atmofour petrols, while the old-school four-speed automatic is replaced by a modern six-speed torqueconverter auto by Aisin.

Result? Bam – Peugeot’s petite 208 powers into contention with an eager, engaging and entertaining drivetrain. A full second faster to 100km/h (and 50kg-plus lighter), it’s the far livelier and slicker responses at speed that are appreciated, making the most of the involving steering, controlled handling and agreeable ride. Ultra-frugal, too.

Pecking orders may tumble.

Also important is the five-speed manual 60kW/118Nm 1.2 atmo triple’s price drop of $3500, to $15,990. Justifiably ignored at the old price, this featherweight sweetie now deserves a look-in for its sheer unburstable sparkle, even if its 13.9sec stroll to 100km/h won’t electrify.

Note, however, that the newly minted 208 Access is stripped back to achieve that price point – quaint manual mirror toggles, plastic steering wheel, (handsome) hubcaps, winding windows for rear doors, Auto Superstore-style head unit (though really Peugeot’s, with Bluetooth), no chrome and black handles/mirror caps scream Belmont spec.

However, the roomy and inviting cabin basics continue, the 208 Access offering comfortable front seats, elegant instruments, ergonomically sound lap-bound wheel/higheyeline dial driving position, a sizeable boot and cruise control with a speed-limiter.

We’d spend the $3K extra for the turbo-triple auto drivetrain, though – $500 cheaper than a VW Polo 66TSI DSG – or, better still, aim for the $21,990 Active (the expected best-seller) for its reinstated touchscreen, brightwork, 16-inch alloys on grippier, quieter 195/55R16 rubber, rear sensors, fog lights and leather-bound wheel.

Wildly under-rated GTi notwithstanding, the 208’s latent potential is finally being exploited by its promising turbo/auto heart transplant in the thick of the lightcar class. All Peugeot needs now is sales to match the praise. d

Model Engine Max power Max torque Transmission Kerb weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale Peugeot 208 Access 1199cc 3cyl, dohc, 12v, turbo 81kW @ 5500rpm 205Nm @ 1500rpm 6-speed automatic 1070kg 10.9sec (claimed) 4.5L/100km $18,990 Now

PLUS & MINUS

Tyre noise on 15s; no 1.2 turbo manual; base car’s manual mirrors Turbo-triple performance/economy; dynamics; classy cabin; packaging

Drawing the GT-Line

THE 208 facelift brings a revised grille, tail-lights, trims, colours and wheels, ushers in Euro-6 emissions compliance, a 6kW gutsier (153Nm/300Nm) GTi (the sole three-door), and the GT-Line.

The latter, from $27,990, uses the punchy 81kW/205Nm 1.2 turbo triple/six-speed auto combo and GTi-like spec as a sporty alternative to the luxe-focused $25,990 Allure.

AEB and a rear camera are a $500 option on the Allure.