The lush greenery of the Sungai Tua Recreational Forest, Selangor provided a scenic route for a test drive of the new Peugeot 208 compact hatchback, on our way to Tanjung Malim. The sporty profile and stylish lines of the 208, with what Peugeot calls a floating grille, was an eye-pleaser for observers during the drive, which was organised by Nasim Sdn Bhd, the distributor for Peugeot cars in Malaysia.
It is no surprise that the 208 has been selling well in Europe, and won accolades such as Car of the Year 2013 awards in countries such as Italy and Spain.
We found the 208 to be well-packaged with comfort features and functions, as well as an impressive host of safety features that helped the car to earn a coveted five-star Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Programme) rating.
The 208 is offered here in three and five-door variants, and are assembled at the Naza Automotive Manufacturing facility in Gurun, Kedah.
The major differences between the two variants include wheel sizes and level of premium features.
The five-door variant has 195/55 R16 tyres while the three-door runs on larger 205/45 R17 tyres.
The three-door variant also has semi-bucket leather and fabric seats, and a panoramic roof with mood lighting.
While all the windows on the five-door variant are one-touch powered types with anti-pinch feature, the three-door has this feature only on the driver’s side window.
Standard features on both variants include the attractive-looking front and rear LED light features, automatic headlights and wipers, “Follow Me Home” headlight function, electric folding mirrors, rear four-sensor parking aid with audio-visual assist, and dual-zone air conditioning.
Still, what drew our attention was the large seven-inch HD colour touchscreen panel for radio, Bluetooth hands-free function and audio file access functions.
The entertainment system has USB, Bluetooth and audio streaming capabilities, and the nice-looking touchscreen panel helped to further lend a premium feel to the interior.
We were also impressed by the clarity and depth of the music tunes played by the six-speaker Arkamys 3D sound audio system.
We found more than adequate leg room with the car’s 2,538mm wheelbase while its boot space can be increased to 1,152 litres with the 60/40 one-touch foldable rear seats.
There are seat back pockets and door bins, and a centre arm rest with a storage compartment to store small items like water bottles and cameras.
The 208, however, comes with a compact-looking height and reach adjustable steering wheel which meant the car’s meter cluster stared at us from above the steering wheel, rather than through it.
We got used to it quickly, and found the electric power steering system to be very light at parking speeds.
Our test drive unit was the five-door variant, and we found it to be a pleasure to drive on the twists and turns of the winding, hilly road as we took the Jalan Sungai Tua - Ulu Yam route to Tanjung Malim.
We found smooth and responsive acceleration with three occupants in the car, and the 1.6-litre engine packed sufficient punch when we did some spirited driving manoeuvres.
According to Peugeot, the 208 weights up to 173kg less than an equivalent 207 - its predecessor, as it was designed with eliminating excess weight in mind.
The 208 has a 1,150kg kerb weight, and Peugeot claims a fuel consumption of 6.7 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.
The car felt planted even during high-speed driving on the hilly roads.
Wind, engine and road noise intrusion into the cabin was quite muted.
The ride quality was very comfortable, and the car soaked up road irregularities and bumps without fuss.
The 208 is an engaging car that is packed with attractive features, and comes with a unlimited mileage five-year warranty.
Officially launched by Nasim on April 17, the on-the-road with insurance prices are RM95,888 for the three-door and RM85,888 for the five-door.
It will certainly provide stiff competition for its rivals in the compact hatchback segment.