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Peugeot launches all-new 208. UPDATE: Video added!

Sees the return of the attractive French hatch, and promising tech too...

Peugeot has today unveiled the replacement for the long-in-the-tooth 207; the predictably named 208. But unlike the jump from 205 to 206 and 206 to 207, this model change brings with it significant technological advances and fresh ideas. The first of which is that the 208 joins the Mazda 2 as the only two new small cars that actually weigh less than the model they replace.

The lightest 208 weighs 173kg less than the 207 at 975kg which is very impressive for a car in this sector. The 208 is 70mm shorter than its predecessor and around 10mm lower, yet the wheelbase is identical at 2540mm. And, despite these exterior reductions, the occupants get more space and the boot is 15 litres bigger than the 207’s at 285 litres. This is enough to make us rejoice as the weight of small cars has been creeping up gradually over the last decade and we wondered where it would stop. Reducing weight in the car has many benefits from handling to economy and ride comfort. We hope Peugeot has taken advantage and has given us a 208 which handles as well as Peugeot hatches of the past.

The weight savings are a bonus, but Peugeot have really succeeded with the styling of the 208. Out goes the old Peugeot design language which for the last 10 years has centred around an ever increasingly large lower grille opening, and in comes the new taught surfacing and stylish lines shown with the 508 recently.

The front lights sweep back into the bonnet and wings with hints of the Ford Fiesta about them, but from there it gets very Gallic with swooping lines, creases and a sloping rear end that houses some very interestingly detailed rear lights. On the 3dr model there is also a neat little chrome piece on the C-Pillar to break up the area and more defined surfacing on the door flanks.

The interior is also vastly improved, with a focus on simple style and high-quality materials. A small steering wheel below an elevated instrument panel are designed to make the car more driver-focused and sporting, while the large touch screen (optional, no doubt) which controls many of the interior functions gives a more upmarket feel.

The 207 was powered by 1.4 and 1.6 litre engines, but following the trend of engine downsizing for emissions improvements, the 208 will be fitted with 1.0 and 1.2 litre VTi powerplants with power outputs expected to be between 75bhp and 100bhp. The most efficient 1.0 variant will provide a claimed 65.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 99g/km. 

The 208 will be offered with five diesel engines, some of which will be equipped with Peugeot’s frugal ‘micro-hybrid’ technology. Four variants will be equipped with stop-start and the most efficient oil burner will return 83.1mpg and 87g/km. Incredible figures no doubt made much easier by the low weight.

The good news for those who have 99RON running through their veins is that the great looking 3dr will form the basis of the triumphant return of the Peugeot hot hatch. The 208 GTI will follow towards the end of next year, and will take the lead from the Citroen DS3 and offer a standard car with roughly 170 bhp from a 1.6 litre turbo engine (shared with the DS3 and Mini Cooper S), whilst a GTi-Racing will offer just over 200 bhp. Given the light weight of the standard car, with some choice carbon fibre parts the GTi-Racing could have a power/weight ratio of over 200 bhp/tonne which would be a phenomenal achievement.

We look forward to seeing how the new 208 drives when it is launched in the summer of 2012 in 3dr and 5dr versions.

Images courtesy of Peugeot


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About Tim Oldland

Contributing Editor - Long time petrolhead, automotive design engineer and journalist. Also Social Media Manager for the ecurie25 Group - www.ecurie25.com Tim has worked in the automotive sector for many years, but has been a fan of anything with 2 or 4... read more