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Real lightweight contender

FASHION-conscious Peugeot is hoping that a trimmed down figure will make the new 208 a favourite on the forecourt. Yes, Peugeot's new supermini is set to become the company's new boardwalk beauty as it is much lighter and more compact than the 207 model it replaces.

The new model is up to 175kgs lighter in one trim level and, on average across the range, is up to 110kgs lighter. It is also more compact. This gives important advantages -- better fuel consumption, better driving dynamics and easier urban parking. Peugeot engineers are harking back to the heady days when the lightweight, nimble 205 was the car that everyone loved to drive.

At skin level the new offering has a sleeker look. The grille takes on the Peugeot corporate face as in the 508, and it has distinctive lights front and rear. The sculpted body lines give a sporty look which will please both male and female drivers. In the past the 206 got the name of being a girlie car, but that did not stop it becoming a huge seller.

In its downsizing trip Peugeot has been careful to keep the essentials. ESP and six airbags are standard across the range. Engineers have made much of the fact that, although the body is shorter on the same wheelbase as the 207, there is actually more legroom and the boot is bigger. Computer design manages to squeeze the last mm out of usable space in cars these days.

Peugeot has always prided itself on the ride quality, and chassis settings in the 208 have been set to give the smoothest drive over rough terrain. This will be tested when the car arrives here.

There are three levels of trim, Access, Active and Allure and the two higher levels get a 7in touch-screen. The big seller, importers Gowan Distributors believe, will be the mid-range Active version with a 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine which will sell for under €16,000 when the car goes on sale here in July.

The choice of engine options ranges from a one-litre and 1.2-litre petrol units to a 1.4-litre HDi diesel unit with a choice of two power output levels. All come with the Band A for road-tax purposes. For those who are power hungry, there are 1.6-litre petrol and diesel options available.

Martin Brennan

Indo Motoring