By all accounts, the Peugeot 208 represented a huge leap forward from its predecessor, the 207.
The GTI derivative remains a well-sorted pocket rocket and it was not surprising that it was referred to as the spiritual successor to the indomitable 205 GTI. While the 208’s sales figures pale against the giant that is the Volkswagen Polo, it remains the company’s most successful model in the local line-up, accounting for 50% of local sales volume. The year 2013 in particular was the model’s bestselling one with 1,731 units sold which, of course, remains a drop in the ocean compared to some major rivals.
To keep the model fresh and relevant, the marque has decided to give it a few cosmetic updates, which include standard daytime running lights and LED rear light clusters, while the interior has some material upgrades. In addition an entry-level model dubbed the Pop Art has been added to the range to fit below the already competent 1.2l Active, which was introduced in 2013. The new model is powered by the company’s 1.0l, three-cylinder, normally aspirated engine to push out 50kW and 90Nm through a five-speed manual transmission.
According to Francis Harnie, managing director, Peugeot Citroen SA, the move to bring in an even more affordable model was crucial to keep the 208 range as competitive as possible. He said the model represents better value than the 108, which will not be made available in SA due to the exchange rate making it difficult for the vehicle to be priced competitively. This makes sense when you consider that its sibling, the new Citroen C1, is priced around the R200,000 mark, making it a grossly expensive option for an A-segment car. It will be interesting to see where Toyota will price its imminent Aygo, which is the donor vehicle to both the C1 and 108.
The 208 range is now also offered with a new GT Line version, which slots below the potent GTI and makes for a commendable stop gap. It is powered by the award winning 1.2l turbo charged engine putting out 81kW and 205Nm through either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic and features the requisite sporty looks including 17-inch alloys, red trim accents for both interior and exterior, and partial leather seats. At the launch in Gauteng, we sampled the automatic variant, which was surprisingly good and actually surpassed expectations.
In the 208 GT Line the matrimony between the engine and gearbox was very good and, apart from initial turbo lag while setting off, the combination proved exemplary. The model does come at a premium of R289, 000 (R269,900 for the manual), which would buy you a Renault Megane GT Line. It is perhaps here that the local outfit will suffer as the exchange rate continues to be a contentious topic, something that was prevalent with the impressive, but expensive, 308 GT Line we tested a few months ago.
The Pop Art at R159,000 seems to represent excellent value for money and manages to undercut the Renault Clio Authentique at R172,900 and the Toyota Yaris 1.0 at R170,000. However, both the Clio and Yaris are offered standard with a three-year/45,000km service plan, while the Pop Art’s threeyear/45,000km service plan is optional. Both the 208 Active (R209, 900) and GT Line come standard with a five-year/ 60,000km maintenance plan.
*This article first appeared on Business Day Motor News