Monday 5 December 2016

Zumba effect gets sensual

There was little point in buying small diesels, there is even less now says Campbell Spray after testing the facelifted Peugeot 208

Published 04/10/2015 | 02:30

SENSUAL: The Peugeot 208 with a scratch-resistant coating comes with three and five doors
SENSUAL: The Peugeot 208 with a scratch-resistant coating comes with three and five doors

One of the worst side-effects of the rush to diesel in recent years was the pressure on many small-car owners to purchase oil-burners because of the lower road tax through "better" emissions (we will leave the killer ones for the moment!) and perceived fuel economy.

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This wasn't a wise move as most small-car owners don't do the high mileage that diesel cars need to give the real benefits of the fuel, and quite simply they are consequently storing up expensive servicing after higher initial prices.

My colleague Martin Brennan, fresh from the launch of the Audi A4, will also be pointing out that even with larger cars the initial price advantage of many petrol-powered models outweighs the cheaper fuel costs associated with diesel. Most petrol engines have been extensively overhauled in recent years to give much better economy, and CO2 emissions on par with diesel, and of course they don't have the noxious killer NOx gasses at the centre of the whole Volkswagen scandal.

In fact I wasn't going to have anything in the column about Volkswagen, Audi and its various other guises until VW had spent some time in purdah but I felt that it would be unfair to those people deciding in the next while about their 2016 purchases.

But I think they should all be warned that the scandal could really undermine Europe's love affair with the diesel. Already a number of countries and cities are putting in curbs and taxes. More will follow, and diesels could eventually become pariahs. Petrol, hybrid, electric, and fuel cell are the way forward. Already petrol sales are rising faster than diesel.

I was lucky that I have been recently driving more petrols than diesels. I do prefer them, especially in smaller cars. One of the best and perkiest of these was the Peugeot 207, and then its replacement, the 208. The latter has now been refreshed as part of a mid-cycle update.

Picking it up recently reminded me of meeting one of my more attractive acquaintances. Always head-turning, she had over the last year or two felt tired and stressed, mainly as a result of children and the worries of the time. She has now been transformed to total beauty by thrice-weekly Zumba sessions; confident, happy, relaxed and professional with a smile to die for.

Maybe I should do the same and quickly get rid of that extra 10kg - the weight of a carry-on bag - and become happier and faster than I presently am.

Anyway the facelifted 208 sparkled, not least because of the lime-green inserts on the front and side mirrors but also because of the rather funky textured paint in a gun-metal grey which is meant to be scratch resistant. As much as I liked it when I picked it up, after a week of muddy weather it didn't have the same allure.

Yet the new 208 was coming down with sensual effects inside. Lots of rather nice leather, small but perfectly formed stubby gear-stick and steering-wheel, and some very shiny black surfaces. A little boudoir no less; yet, unfortunately the rather good-looking semi-sports seats failed to deliver with good lower-back support and small touches like the cup-holders weren't really fit for purpose. Generally the ergonomics didn't suit me but probably would someone less bulky. Yet it was a car that you could almost forgive for its attempt to be something special.

I was driving the 208 Allure 1.2 110bhp PureTech which has CO2 emissions of 103g and a very optimistic combined consumption of 4.5l/100km. The price is from €20,410 plus p&p.

The Lime Green pack is from €270, and the textured paint from €610. The car comes with a five-year extended Peugeot warranty. The safety equipment and the spec is very good and there is a spare wheel for the Irish market.

It was delight to drive even if there probably isn't enough road feel and the handling wouldn't match a Ford Fiesta. It is a car that will appeal to our more youthful, feminine side.

Sunday Independent

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