Peugeot’s new 208 looks great with quality touches, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

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Peugeot 208 1.2 VTi Allure five-door

Price: £13,895 (range £9,995 to £18,495)

Engine: 1,199cc, 82bhp, three-cylinder petrol

Performance: 0-62mph 14 seconds; top speed 109mph

MPG: Urban 51.4; extra urban 72.4; combined 62.8

Emissions: 104g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 11pc

Insurance group: 8E (out of 50)

Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Will it fit the garage? Length 3,962mm; width (including door mirrors) 2,004mm; height 1,460mm

Peugeot has built some cracking little cars – the iconic 205 lasted a remarkable 15 years, the 206 was the best-selling Peugeot ever with 7.7 million sales and the 207 put Peugeot to the fore in the supermini style stakes.

With superminis increasingly attractive as motorists down-size to cut motoring bills, and important to manufacturers looking to maintain sales, enter the 208 – the most striking Peugeot supermini to date.

Superminis are moving upmarket, getting features and equipment from bigger cars, and becoming more stylish and the 208 is one of the prettiest, inside and out, I have seen for a long time.

Cute and curvy on the outside, it’s clearly a Peugeot and has more presence than its predecessors. Inside, my smart Allure model had a classy look and feel with quality materials, lots of piano black trim on the fascia, centre console and doors and alloy highlights.

The 208 weighs on average 114kg less than the 207 which combined with more efficient engines sees average CO2 emissions 34g/km lower than the 207.

Joining revised 95bhp 1.4 and 120bhp 1.6 petrol and 156bhp 1.6 turbo petrol engines and 68bhp 1.4 and 92bhp and 115bhp 1.6 turbo diesels, the latter all sub 99g/km so currently road tax exempt, is a new generation of three-cylinder petrol engines. The 68bhp 1.0 and 82bhp 1.2 units emit 99 and 104g/km of CO2 respectively.

I drove the 1.2 version and was impressed by its willing low-down power delivery but despite the distinctive triple-cylinder note when you wind it up it runs out of steam so you are better off shifting up a gear earlier and taking advantage of its flexibility. Once up to speed it cruises comfortably and quietly and regularly returned MPG in the low to mid 50s. I also found the five-speed manual gearbox’s shift a little sticky and it could not be hurried.

The soft suspension means progress is generally absorbent and comfortable on decent roads but it struggles to smooth out poor surfaces when it feels fidgety and sunken manhole covers send quite a jolt through the car at low speeds accompanied by some tyre and suspension noise. The steering is light for parking but over-responsive at speed until you get used to it but the 208 feels nimble on twisty roads but body roll through corners builds with speed.

The cabin has enough legroom for four average adults to travel in comfort – there’s 5cm more legroom in the back than the 207 – but the same cannot be said for headroom in the back which is so tight, especially with the optional £400 panoramic glass roof, that the top of my head pressed against the headlining.

The 285-litre boot is decent for a supermini and the deep flat sides means is can take quite large items. Rear seat backs split 60/40 and fold flat on to the cushions to create a 1,152-litre load bay, but lay slightly proud of the boot floor.

The fascia is interesting to look at but takes some getting used to – you look at the instruments over, rather than though, the steering wheel which can mean compromising on the ideal driving position for a clear view – I had to have the seat higher and the wheel lower than normal to see the full dials. Apart from that, the controls are straightforward to use and well-placed. The high-rise 7in colour touchscreen infotainment system, standard from mid-spec Active, on the centre of the fascia looks good but is difficult to use on the move.

The fascia on the passenger side is set back which boosts the feeling of spaciousness but the glovebox is tiny – hence the owner’s handbook stored in the boot – but large front doorbins make up for it.

Equipment highlights see entry-level Access include six airbags, cruise control, remote locking and stability control, Access+ add air-conditioning and electric/heated door mirrors while Active gains 15in alloy wheels, front fog lights, Bluetooth, multi-function touchscreen and split back seats. Allure has 16in alloys, LED daytime running lights, sport seats, automatic headlights and wipers and dual-zone climate control while Feline gets 17in alloys, sportier styling, electric folding mirrors, directional front fog lights and glass roof. An Ice Velvet limited edition features satellite-navigation and rear parking aid.

The Peugeot 208 is one of the best-looking, classy superminis around with low running costs but there are rivals which are better to drive.

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