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Racing Teatray

Peugeot 208 diseasel

Well this year's Sicilian rental delight courtesy of Budget was a grey Peugeot 208 Access 5dr with a 1.6 diesel donkey nodding out an unsparkling 75bhp.

I wasn't thrilled I will admit. Largely because I had booked a "Fiesta or similar" and, having never driven the much-feted Ford, was quite intrigued to try one. Whereas a diesel 208 is about as inspiring a prospect as yesterday's washing-up and also not very attractive in my eyes. Styling-wise, it's best from the back where they've tried to go back to the pretty 206 with the central reversing light and whatnot. The side, however, is just bland, especially in grey, and the front is curiously characterless and not cohesive enough to achieve cuteness, even if it is way better than the old 207. But it's not really one of the most appealing-looking superminis.

However, it transpired to at least be considerably better than the Punto 1.2 we had in Bologna over Easter, being more nicely finished, punchier (though the same is true of almost anything) considerably more economical (we got 840kms out of one 65 euro tank of diesel) and rather sharper to drive.

Driving-wise, the engine is every bit the rather leaden lump you expect. It's defiantly dieselly and loud, and you need to work the 5spd gearbox to make progress. If you select the right gear, the greater torque means acceleration of a sort is available for considerably less effort in the petrol-powered Punto 1.2, but to be honest at 75-ish on the motorway, the diesel is spinning at nearly 3000rpm so you are better off taking a more relaxed approach rather than trying to thrash it. The gearbox was not particularly nice – being distinctly notchy and not always fond of engaging reverse without double-dipping the clutch (and this on a car with less than 2,000 kms on the clock when we collected it). But I will say this: it handled much better than I expected. Not much steering feel through that titchy wheel, but the body control and grip it displayed were surprisingly good and tied-down, and it could be made to flow down a twisty road in a very competent way that makes it seem entirely plausible that this car could be the basis for a decent GTI given the right ingredients. It was also comfortable - the seats were supportive and the driving position easily adjustable, and the primary ride was typically supple. It was only let down by a fussy secondary ride which transmitted more surface scarring than you'd expect from something on 15" steels with relatively tall tyres.

The interior styling is unfortunately nasty. The dashboard is an aesthetic mess with a lot of easily-scratched gloss black plastic, a weird lump of a central display screen that protrudes from the dash and those odd high-mounted dials (which, by the way, dim to invisibility should you turn the lights on by day as you must on an Italian motorway). And then there's a funny little steering wheel which was in old-school sweaty plastic with no attempt at even a leatherette covering. Plus it was an odd spec – steel wheels and windy rear windows, but fitted with cruise control… Can't figure the logic there. But overall the quality was ok – it's not going to send you into raptures over fit and finish but on the other hand it's not noticeably sub-par either. Also, after 10 days with it, I can actually start to see where they are coming from with the whole dials above the steering wheel thing – you get used to it and it is rather more logical than peering through the steering wheel at the dials. The boot was also big/well-shaped enough (unlike that of the Punto) to neatly swallow one large wheeled suitcases and two handluggage-sized wheeled suitcases, together with sundry assorted extras, which is a boon on a touring holiday as it means no luggage left on display.

So not a bad car overall but equally to be honest neither of us really cared for it. It was too Norman Normal and just lacking in any real form of pizzazz or sense of fun. The personification of a European rent-a-car. My wife's 500 doesn't, objectively, handle nearly as well, being a trifle bouncy apart from anything else, but in Twinair guise at least it has this particular 208 licked for entertainment value as well as aesthetic appeal. The Pug might handle well, but you'd never call it characterful or interesting. There's never anything there that makes you think "ooh, I quite fancy one of these".

Which remains a shame for those of us who remember sparky little Pugs of yore.

Here it is waiting for the ferry on Vulcano:

Humphrey The Pug

I love the exterior styling of the 208, I detest the appaling driving position vs low steering wheel vs dash top pod.

Ironically the clocks are on top of the dash with a low set wheel so that there is aways an unhindered view of the display, however when we had one for sale recently, to enable me to get comfy the top of the steering wheel went right through the centre of the display, this blocking it entirely.
Frank Bullitt

They all have cruise control fitted to them, irrespective of spec.

I'd imagine you'd have been more impressed overall if it was powered by the 1.2 Puretech 110 engine which is a blown 3-pot, I can't see this particular model would interest anyone. Even the 1.2 Puretech 82 is spirited.

Looks are subjective and I like them a lot, it's very attractive to my eyes but perhaps not to others.

It's the supermini I would pick.
Humphrey The Pug

Frank Bullitt wrote:
They all have cruise control fitted to them, irrespective of spec.

I'd imagine you'd have been more impressed overall if it was powered by the 1.2 Puretech 110 engine which is a blown 3-pot, I can't see this particular model would interest anyone. Even the 1.2 Puretech 82 is spirited.

Looks are subjective and I like them a lot, it's very attractive to my eyes but perhaps not to others.

It's the supermini I would pick.


If you don't have cruise and speed limiter fitted to a car it will not get a Euro NCAP 5 score, irrespective of everything else.

Sorry, my mistake, I was getting confused with TC; before TC was mandatory there was a time where a car wouldn't get a 5 star rating without it.

However the addition of cruise control does add extra points to NCAP scoring.
Racing Teatray

Humphrey The Pug wrote:
I love the exterior styling of the 208, I detest the appaling driving position vs low steering wheel vs dash top pod.

Ironically the clocks are on top of the dash with a low set wheel so that there is aways an unhindered view of the display, however when we had one for sale recently, to enable me to get comfy the top of the steering wheel went right through the centre of the display, this blocking it entirely.


We must have very different bodyshapes!
Roadsterstu

Was it really only 75bhp? I know it's only a 1.6 diesel but that sounds somewhat strangled. Ugh.
Frank Bullitt

The 1.6 HDi Blue (EU6) can be had in 75, 100 and 120bhp flavours - the 75bhp model replaces the 1.4HDi 70 in pre EU6.

That is a basic model, equivalent to the UK Access A/C spec - as you go up through the range the interior trim improves markedly.
Bob Sacamano

Looks wise it's perfectly acceptable but as has been pointed out there are better alternatives out there. Fine as hire car but I wouldn't put my own money into one unless heavily discounted from a car supermarket.
Martin

The 208 looks smarted when it's a better trim level, but as Chris says, it would be much better with a punchy little petrol engine.  
I've not had anything smaller than a Golf as a holiday hire car since a Tigra in my early 20s.
Nice Guy Eddie

At 6ft, any car I get in, the seat goes straight to its lowest setting and the steering wheel gets adjusted to as close to me as possible and about 3/4 of the way up on its height. If I do that in the 208 or 308 I can't see a thing the dials are showing.
Chris M Wanted a V-10

Humphrey The Pug wrote:

... the addition of cruise control does add extra points to NCAP scoring.

How on earth does CC make a car safer in a crash, or less likely to crash ?
Frank Bullitt

Nice Guy Eddie wrote:
At 6ft, any car I get in, the seat goes straight to its lowest setting and the steering wheel gets adjusted to as close to me as possible and about 3/4 of the way up on its height. If I do that in the 208 or 308 I can't see a thing the dials are showing.


Indeed, that will hide the dials.  I'm 6'4" and also have the seat on the lowest setting but the wheel follows it to the bottom and as close to me as possible.
PG

Re: Peugeot 208 diseasel

Racing Teatray wrote:
Which remains a shame for those of us who remember sparky little Pugs of yore.

Here it is waiting for the ferry on Vulcano...



We had a Pug 206 petrol hire car in Italy years ago and it was very easy to thrash at high speed on tyhe motorway. Whereas a 75hp diesel - walking would be quicker surely?

Where did you stay on Vulcano? We went there about 5 years ago for a few days (staying the rest of the time in Taormina on Sicily, which we loved). I think a car on Vulcano would be a good idea as the hotel we stayed in seemed to think that they could fleece you for food as it was 30+ minutes walk to town.
Racing Teatray

Re: Peugeot 208 diseasel

PG wrote:

We had a Pug 206 petrol hire car in Italy years ago and it was very easy to thrash at high speed on tyhe motorway. Whereas a 75hp diesel - walking would be quicker surely?

Where did you stay on Vulcano? We went there about 5 years ago for a few days (staying the rest of the time in Taormina on Sicily, which we loved). I think a car on Vulcano would be a good idea as the hotel we stayed in seemed to think that they could fleece you for food as it was 30+ minutes walk to town.


This was our fourth trip there and we always stay with some great friends who inherited a house near the port. It's only a 5 minute walk inland from the harbour and a 5 minute walk across to the main "spiaggie nere" beach so we can pretty much walk everywhere and actually rarely need to use a car when we are on the island unless it's to go over to swim or eat at Gelso on the other side of the island. I absolutely love it there – very low-key and less crowded. We only rent a car because we always combine our trips to Vulcano with a spot of sight-seeing elsewhere in Sicily and it's just cheap (EUR150 for 10 days) and the simplest way to get around.  

To be that far away, I presume you were staying somewhere higher up behind the volcano?
gooner

Chris M Wanted a V-10 wrote:
Humphrey The Pug wrote:

... the addition of cruise control does add extra points to NCAP scoring.

How on earth does CC make a car safer in a crash, or less likely to crash ?


It's probably the speed limiter function that makes it safer in the eyes of Euro NCAP.

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