Peugeot 208 Allure

1.2L Pure Tech 100

Auto

Peugeot 208, 66 plate, front
Peugeot 208, 2016, interior, woman driver
Peugeot 208, 66 plate, rear
Peugeot 208, front
Peugeot 208, front
Peugeot 208, side
Peugeot 208, rear
Peugeot 208, interior

IF first impressions count, and they do, the man who usually drives a Range Rover was already a fan of the little Peugeot hatchback as he slipped into the passenger seat.

"This looks smart," he said, surveying the clean, sculpted lines of the dashboard ahead, elegantly finished off with touches of subtly brushed alloy - or, more likely, some convincingly applied plastic.

Settling in for the next couple of hours in a cabin that must have felt half the size (and half the distance from the road surface) of his usual daily transport, Range Rover man's surprise at what £17,765 can bring only continued.

He liked the way this little Pug tackled the excesses of a British main road surface, an experience made the more impressive with the ride softening weight of three other adults joining him on the trip.

He was mightily impressed too by the 44mpg shown on the 208's deliciously clear dash display (whose designer must be after a job on the next iPad), a figure some way better than the digits he sees on his Range Rover's trip computer - which also isn't a patch on the Peugeot's in the looks department.

That economy figure (comfortably boosted on a relaxed motorway run into the low 50s to the gallon) was made more impressive still as this 208 came with an automatic gearbox, usually a sure way to suck extra fuel into the engine.

Actually, this automatic is simply a conventional six-speed manual gearbox with electric motors replacing the clutch pedal, so ought to be fuel frugal in its own right. This sort of gearbox is often jerky and unresponsive but worked smoothly enough here, with only the slightest bit of throttle restraint need for unruffled progress.

So, is RR Man likely to rush round to the nearest Peugeot dealer and sort out one of the more unexpected part exchange deals? Of course not. Horse for courses, heart over head, as they say.

No, the 208 faces more realistic, and tough, opposition from a raft of cars all built to make modest motoring as painless as possible.

These days that can even mean you'll be driving a car that feels a million miles from budget wheels territory. Giving the badge on the bonnet the same ring of respect a Range Rover elicits will take longer.

The two lady passengers in the rear thought their trip just as comfortable as the two chaps up ahead, with enough room for legs, although a couple of rugby prop forwards would find less to rave about, even once they'd squeezed through the smallish doors.

Small cars have small boots (you need Dr Who and his Tardis for anything else) but the 208's is big enough for the weekly shop and the rear seat back splits and folds if you're on the Christmas present run and in generous mood.

The 208 range starts at £12,365 for a modestly powerful 1.2-litre petrol version and tops out with the £22,665 1.6 200 GTI by Peugeot Sport - so there's likely to be something for anyone looking for a little family hatch, with or without blistering performance.

Downsides to this latest 208? Well, you might find the need of the ignition key to unlock the fuel caps bit of a bore and unlit radio controls on the steering wheel make station changes a nocturnal lottery.

FAST FACTS

Peugeot 208 Allure 1.2L Pure Tech 100 Auto

Price: £17,765

Mechanical: 108bhp, 1,199cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 118mph

0-62mph: 9.8 seconds

Combined MPG: 62.8

Insurance Group: 15

C02 emissions: 104g/km

Bik rating: 17%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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