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Wait is over as Peugeot unveil the red-hot 208

THIS Summer is gonna be a sizzler -- well according to Peugeot as they pull the dust covers off the much-awaited 208.

Making its debut to the Irish motoring press in Portugal today, the official launch date has been pencilled in for June 30.

The hot new super mini draws on all the strengths and successes of Peugeot's iconic 205, the 206 and the European best-selling 207. With the arrival of 208, Peugeot aims to reclaim the leadership reins of the savagely competitive small car segment next year.

Swiping a few styling tips from its elegant 508 and 308 big brothers, the 208 won't be short of admirers -- especially female ones.

Sporting a floating grille, newly sculpted lights and boomerang rear lamps, the new 208 has a much more sporty and athletic look to it.

Slightly smaller on the outside than 207 (7cm shorter and 1cm lower), the 208 offers more room inside for rear passengers (+5cm at the knees) and a more generous boot.

It weighs on average 110kg less than 207, leading to much lower CO2 emissions and greater fuel economy.

In fact, one of the little powerplants is so green it would make some Hybrids blush with a CO2 reading of just 87g/km.

Now, in Britain that would be rewarded with a zero rate of road tax but not here where it will sit in the lowest band of €160 a year.

The engine line-up for the Irish market is vast and includes the very 1.4 litre, 68bhp eHDi diesel model (87g/CO2) we've just mentioned with Stop Start technology.

Also on offer are two petrol engines -- a 1.0 litre 68bhp (99g/CO2) and a 1.2 litre 82bhp unit (104g/CO2).

But its on the inside where the 208 will win most new admirers.

The interior is like nothing in its class and has a more premium feel to it than cars twice its size and stature.

An elevated instrument panel positioned directly in front of the driver gives information at a glance whilst a small steering wheel adds to driving enjoyment.

Available in both 3-door and 5-door hatchback and with a choice of three trims, Access, Active and Allure, all 208 models will come equipped with ESP and six airbags. Some 80pc of sales are expected to be the Active spec.

Peugeot are looking to sell around 300 units from July to December of this year and have a target of 1,200 units in 2013, the first full year of sales.

Prices have yet to be announced but expect them to be highly competitive and a little bird tells me that it should be similar to the €16,000 price tag of the current 207.

And if it is as tasty to drive as it looks then we're in for a real treat.