The entry-level model in Peugeot's 208 range is equipped with a turbocharged 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine. Also on offer is two more powerful iterations of the 1.2-litre petrol, two 1.6-litre petrols, and frugal 1.6-litre diesels. Topping the range is the GTi model, which features a 205bhp turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine.
If the Peugeot's advertised weight reduction for the 208 has led you to hope for big strides in its performance, this won’t make easy reading. At best, the mid-range 1.2-litre petrol’s performance is ordinary – mediocre, even. At worst, in some ways it’s downright sub-standard compared with most other superminis of the same capacity and price.
That it takes a full 1.5sec longer than a 1.2-litre Suzuki Swift to crack a standing quarter mile, isn’t a massive condemnation, the Suzuki being one of the class’s dynamic over-performers. Owners of the 208 may not seem the type to be concerned by flat-out acceleration, but when the motive force on offer is as limited as in this car, they should be.
More serious is the lack of refinement and flexibility displayed by the engine, which is electronically restrained from a standstill when you open the throttle wide and delivers its torque in an uneven and fairly raucous way through much of the rev range.