When it comes to flair the French know how to flaunt it. Whether it’s a car or a sexy show at the Moulin Rouge in Paris, with beautiful women doing the can-can, or Peugeot, who can-can do it in style as I found after spending time with their new 208 GT Line 1.2 Auto which is now turbo charged.
Brian Joss – The PureTech three cylinder turbo engine does pack a punch and for the “greenies’ among us it’s also environmentally friendly with CO2 emissions at 104 g/km. There are four models in the new 208 sub-compact hatch range. They are the 208 Pop Art; 208 Active 1.2 PureTech; the 208 GT Line 1.2 PureTech Turbo and the 208 GT Line 1.2 PureTech Turbo Auto, the test car and the flagship of the range. But it weighs in at more than R300 000, according to last month’s price list.
The 208 is a stylish looking car and turned a lot of heads because of its updated sporty look. Some of the changes include new headlights with black and chrome elements, giving it a sharper look. LED daytime running lights are fitted to the GT Line model which like the others, get a new bumper, linked to a wider grille. The flagship gets a black and chrome grille and the fog lights on all the models have been repositioned. Inside too, the cabin has seen some vast improvements with the development of the Peugeot i-Cockpit® which includes a compact steering wheel, a head-up instrument panel and a seven inch touchscreen with all the controls including radio, air conditioning and all the vehicle information you need. Which means you don’t have to fiddle with too many buttons. USB and Bluetooth connectivity are included.
The materials used also appear to be of a high quality and have a premium feel to it. Black leather with red stitching for the upholstery. The dashboard is finished in a synthetic carbon fibre. There are also other upmarket touches like leather on the gear shift lever while the pedals are metal.
Looks can be deceptive and despite its compactness the cabin is surprisingly spacious. The boot at 311 litres expanding to 1152 litres with the 60/40 split, is one of the largest in its class. The new Peugeot 208 range us equipped with Euro6-compliant three-cylinder engines that feature PureTech technology and key to the success of these motors include direct injection, low friction materials and reduced weight. The 1.2 GT line comes with a choice of a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox. The auto box is a new EAT6 (Efficient Automatic Transmission) , which according to Peugeot achieves levels of efficiency that compare favourably with manual gearboxes. Peugeot also says that the combined fuel consumption of the manual and automatic versions is exactly the same: 4.5 litres/100 km and C02 emissions for the GT Line are 104g/km. However, the fuel consumption I recorded is vastly different to the manufacturer’s claim. My figures were nearer the 7.5 litres/100 km mark. If you were expecting the 208 to be a hot hatch, it’s not, even though it gets going quite rapidly without leaving any rubber on the tarmac. With 81 kW and 205 N.m of torque at 1500 rpm, the 1.2 litre turbo is a peppy unit and for a three-cylinder motor I was quite surprised at how quiet it was. There is hardly any noise, except for the familiar gurgle of a three-pot motor and there was no turbo lag that I could detect and the auto gearbox showed no signs of hunting. The 208 features automatic stop-start and switches off when you’re sitting at a red light. However, lift-off is almost instantaneous when you take your foot off the brake pedal.
The six-speed auto gear box works well and the changes in the main are smooth, with a niggle or two. The 208 wasn’t that happy in bumper-to-bumper traffic, I found, and occasionally I thought it was going to stall and once or twice it juddered at low speed.
My test route took in various road conditions: heavy traffic, highway motoring where the 208 easily kept up with the flow and some twisty mountain roads when it held its own. The 208 was quite happy over the humps and bumps and it was ideal for nipping in and out of heavy traffic. Ride quality was good, it was smooth and the electric power steering is accurate. The seats are comfortable and there were no complaints from the two large adult passengers at the rear. They both said there was enough head space and leg room.
The new Peugeot 208 has a five-star Euro-NCAP safety rating. It includes ABS anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution (EBD), and emergency brake assist (EBA), dual front airbags and in the GT Line curtain airbags. Central locking is activated automatically when you drive off.
Some things you should know about the Peugeot 208 GT Line Auto: the manual version, says Peugeot, accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 9.5 seconds with a top speed of 190 km/h while the GT Line is 2 seconds slower for the sprint but top speed is identical; it has a 50 litre fuel tank; it is equipped with an anti-theft alarm and the hazard lights are automatically activated under emergency braking conditions; unique to the GT Line is the chrome-finished exhaust tailpipe and privacy glass for the rear windows; electrochomatic rear-view mirror and auto-activating; it comes in a choice of 12 colours which includes an innovative textured paint which does not need special treatment or washing instructions, except no wax, and is available in Ice Silver and Ice Grey.
Summing up, the Peugeot 208 1.2 GT Line Auto is one of the more interesting cars in the market sector and it has loads of appeal. The turbo engine delivers a good performance and it’s practical with lots of space for people and luggage. With the 208 Peugeot has proved that small automatics can be good – and fun to drive.
* The Peugeot 1.2 GT Line Auto has a price tag of R304 900 which includes a three-year/ 100 000 km warranty and a five-year/ 60 000 km full maintenance plan.