HEY CHILDREN OF THE 1990s, REMEMBER POGS? HOW FUN WERE THEY?! AND TAMAGOTCHIS, THEY WERE PRETTY ACE TOO.
Sea Monkeys, the Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, the relative straightforwardness of the first Gulf War... the 1990s provided many things to be nostalgic about. But there are some things that are better left in the past.
Like manually-adjustable wing mirrors.
The 1990s was perhaps the last decade when non-electric wing mirrors were actually “a thing”.
But it seems there’s somebody at Peugeot who’s still nostalgic for simpler times, and they’ve chosen to express that by putting manual mirrors in the entry-level Peugeot 208 Access... either that, or it’s a cost constraint thing.
Kids of the 90s probably aren’t too keen on those little mirror stalks, but what else is there for them? After all, they’re all grown up now and probably ready to buy their first brand-new car - a car that’s most likely in the Peugeot 208’s size class.
As the most affordable model in the range, let’s take a look at what the 208 Access has to offer the twenty-somethings of today.
Vehicle Style: Five-door light hatchback
Price: $18,990 (plus on-roads); but current deal $16,990 driveaway
Engine/trans: 81kW/205Nm 1.2 turbo petrol 3cyl | 6sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 4.5 l/100km | tested: 8.0 l/100km
Now we say “entry level”, but the car we’re testing here - while still the base-grade Access - is equipped with the optional six-speed automatic.
That means it comes with a more powerful turbocharged version of the Access Manual’s 1.2 litre three-cylinder petrol engine, however it also carries a premium of $3000 that turns a $15,990 car into an $18,990 one (plus on-road costs).
However, you can ignore that list price for the moment. Peugeot is currently offering keen driveaway pricing for this model - $16,990 is all you’ll need.
This is more than a $5000 discount on what you’d ordinarily pay. So, if you’re interested, now is the time to buy.
- Standard equipment: Central locking, cruise control, power front windows, trip computer, air conditioning, cloth upholstery, halogen headlamps
- Infotainment: AM/FM/CD/USB audio with steering wheel controls, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming
- Cargo volume: 311 minimum, 1152 maximum (to roof)
Okay, antiquated mirror technology aside, what else is there inside its appealing compact five-door body?
Well, it's not overburdened with features. Only the front windows are powered (the rears have manual winders), the steering wheel is bare plastic, and the infotainment is a basic single-DIN AM/FM/CD headunit with Bluetooth - not a touchscreen in sight.
But it’s got a fair dose of style to it, considering its spartan fit-out. Trims are appealing and the plastics are of decent quality with nice textures.
Even the cloth seats are cut with silver corner panels and contrast stitching, and there’s the occasional flash of silver on the air-vents, door handles and shifter to break up the monotony.
A single, pointlessly-small cupholder lives at the base of the centre stack, with an open centre console behind it. There’s a wallet-sized cubby above the driver’s right knee but the glovebox is half the size it should be, as is customary for RHD Peugeots.
It’s a good-sized cabin for a compact hatch, but some drivers may not like Peugeot’s method of positioning the instrument panel so high.
Looking over the top of the steering wheel’s rim to check your speed may feel unusual at first, but adjust the tilting and telescoping steering column low and you should become accustomed to it soon enough.
The back seat has plenty of headroom for a light hatch, but limited legroom. On the whole though, this is a decent interior - it’s just a little bare-bones.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 81kW/205Nm 1.2 litre turbocharged petrol inline three
- Transmission: six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear
- Brakes: Ventilated disc front, solid disc rear
- Steering: Electrically assisted
While a $3k premium for an automatic transmission may sound like a lot, in the Peugeot 208 Access it’s well worth the expense for one reason - you also get a turbocharger as part of the deal.
And that takes power and torque from the manual model’s 60kW and 118 to a far more useful 81kW and 205Nm. The driveability enhancement that brings - as well as the greater user-friendliness of the six-speed automatic - justifies the extra cost.
It makes for a pretty perky 1.2 litre three-pot, and one that doesn’t mind plugging around at lowish rpm either. It’ll happily rev, but it doesn’t really need to thanks to the wide torque band of the turbocharged motor.
The automatic behaves well too, though it tends to shoot straight for the highest gear at the earliest opportunity.
Kickdown performance is good and it doesn’t hunt once it finds the right ratio. There’s a manual shift gate, but in day-to-day driving you won't find yourself looking for it.
If there’s a fun road on your commute, though, you can whip the little Pug around it selecting your own gears.
The steering is light, turning circle tight and the ride is fairly supple on the Access’ standard 15- steel wheels.
The steering rack has a reasonably quick ratio (something that’s magnified by the small diameter steering wheel), and the 208 Access handles quite well for a compact hatchback.
There’s a fair amount of body roll and plenty of pitching under braking, but it doesn’t compromise roadholding all that much. That said, with a grippier set of tyres, it’d would be even more fun.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars - this model scored 34.03 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: No reversing camera or parking sensors either, and while autonomous emergency braking is available on the Allure and GT-Line, it’s simply not available - even as an option - on the 208 Access.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Shoppers in the light hatch segment are spoiled for choice. Even though it’s now cheaper than its ever been, the Pug 208 Access has the disadvantage of relatively high retail pricing.
The current drive-away deal for the 208 Access auto however is incredibly sharp value for a Euro 5-door, but those deals are rarely permanent. For the purposes of this section we’ll be using retail price to select our rivals.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
It’s a good thing Peugeot is currently offering such a generous driveaway deal on the 208 Access automatic. Without it, we’d struggle to see the appeal from a value perspective.
That’s no fault of the how the little Pug drives though. At its core the 208 Access is a decent car, but battles in a segment against others at a similar retail price which are also decent drives (like the Mazda2 and Renault Clio), and offer more for your money.
But right now, at $16,990, including all on-road costs, the 208 Access automatic is a good deal if you’re shopping for a 'city hatch' that’s a little different to the usual suspects. Take advantage of that pricing while you can.