► All new 2019 Peugeot 208 hatch
► Supermini launched with EV version
► CAR’s full lowdown of Fiesta rival
Peugeot's new 208 supermini was one of the most important cars at the 2019 Geneva motor show, having made its official debut at the Swiss show. Not only does it introduce the latest line of 'two-zero' cars and sticks with the eight this time around, but it brings a full electric model alongside the internal combustion engine variants, too.
This new supermini has been built from the ground up: new platform, new look, new interior and new offering to what the brand hopes will be a younger buyer. ‘Our strength is the 208,’ said Anne-Lise Richard, low-emission vehicle strategist for Peugeot, ‘we think we can present an answer no matter what the customer is looking for.’
Brave words. Have they managed it? We’ve got the full story...
Historically, Peugeot has created some cool small cars. Is the new 208 one?
Mainly, yes. ‘We wanted to create the sexiest hot hatch in the purest way,’ design director Gilles Vidal told CAR in his charmingly heavy French-accented English at the Advanced Design Network centre in Vélizy, near Paris. ‘But how do you do that? Possibly with big wheels in the corners, "muscle" in the body and a more upright windscreen to give the car some "nose". So we said, "let’s go back to silhouettes like the 205".’
Vidal pressed home the point by allowing a pristine 205 to share the limelight with several new 208s in their secret presentation room. Compare side-view images of the 208 Mk1 and new Mk2 and the proportional change is clear.
The Mk2 is longer, lower and wider, the base of the windscreen pushed back and there’s more of a shoulder to the bodywork below the window line.
Its derrière features a more curvaceous and defined rump, accentuated by a glossy black section housing triple red LED rear lights on each side and the rear glass above is more angled.
Front-on, the 208’s face is dominated by a big and intricately-detailed grille, new triple white LED lights to mirror those at the back and some fetching LED fangs. Chrome highlights – bar the lion badge and 208 atop the front of the bonnet – have been banished.
The only slightly odd, at first glance, aspect to the car is its black wheelarch cladding on the top-sped GT-Line and GT versions.
Unlike on some SUVs where they’re used to suggest ruggedness, here they reduce the width of the coloured section between the top of the front wheelarch and the bonnet surface to make the body side appear slimmer, but also on the presentation car at least, make the 17-inch wheels appear slightly too small for their arches.
The new 208 interior brings the supermini in line with the 3008 and 508, with the latest generation of Peugeot’s i-Cockpit philosophy. The dashboard is more egalitarian for all front occupants, not prioritising controls to the driver who is cocooned by the centre console in the 3008 for example.
The highlight is a new 3D driver display with a layered approach, featuring a TFT screen for mapping and other info (in 5- 7- or 10-inch sizes, depending on spec), with more pressing details like directional arrows and speed projected onto a screen closer to the driver.
The trigger gear selector from larger Pugs is present and correct for the automatic and electric models, and the e-208 GT has intricate and bespoke part-Alcantara upholstery.
Apart from looking very impressive – interior designer Eric Dejou told CAR the guy who did the graphics previously worked with acclaimed film director Luc Besson – the idea has been proved to reduce eye and brain fatigue plus driver nausea.
The other stand-out cabin detail is the fold-down flap under the piano-key switches in the centre console which can house a smart phone in several different ways while it charges – either inductively or via two charging points – and has an angled lip to display its screen towards the occupants if required too.
So what engines can I choose from in the new 208?
There are three petrols and a diesel to choose from. The petrol engines are all 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbos with 74, 99 and 128bhp. The solitary diesel is a 1.5-litre four-pot with 99bhp. Peugeot hasn’t announced performance specs for them yet, so stay tuned for more info.
Interestingly, though, the 99 and 128bhp petrols can be equipped with an eight-speed auto - something unheard of in the mainstream supermini segment. All are front-wheel drive.
You mentioned an electric Peugeot 208?
Yup. Along with the combustion engine versions, an all-electric 208 (handily named e-208) will be available. It uses the e-CMP version for PSA’s clever new compact car platform and will be the basis of the electric Vauxhall Corsa, too. Just like the ICE cars, there’ll be different trims like GT and GT Line, with some light blue detailing and 'fang' day-running lights (DRLs) similar to the top-spec 508 models being the only real differentiators.
‘e-CMP is relatively simple,’ said Rémi Seimpere, the platform’s project director, ‘we removed the fuel tank and exhaust line and replaced them with batteries. We’ve used all of the available space for the battery, so you get maximum charge without compromise.’ Little else was done to the platform, other than developing an angled rear axle that bends around the battery pack, but maintains the same wheel position.
Just one power variant of the e-208 will be available. A 50kWh battery is mated to a 100kW electric motor, which happens to be 134bhp and 192lb ft in old money. For reference, that makes the e-208 more powerful than a Renault ZOE R110, and not far behind the 148bhp Nissan Leaf. The Renault comparison is interesting – the all-new Clio Mk5 is also being unveiled at Geneva, and it will be electrified with a hybrid version in 2020. But it won’t be available as a pure EV – that’s the Zoe’s role in the portfolio.
In terms of capacity, Peugeot claims a 211-mile range under WLTP testing conditions (280 miles according to NEDC). Fast charging at a rate of 100kW is available via a CCS socket hidden behind the fuel cap, with a 0-80% charge capable in just half an hour. A wall box at home will take around five hours at 11kW or eight hours at 7.4kW.
Crucially, the e-CMP platform’s packaging means the electric 208 has the same rear legroom and boot space as the combustion engine versions – something the brand wanted to ensure in early planning. Still, the e-208 is said to be around 350kg heavier than a comparable ICE version.
Access to charging points via PSA’s Free2Move services is included, as is a wall box if your home can facilitate it.
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This production car is just one part of Peugeot’s electrification goals. At the 2018 Paris motor show, it confirmed the 508 Fastback and SW and the 5008 would get a PHEV variant and there’s more to come. ‘Every new car launched from 2019 will have an electrified version,’ said Richard, ‘and as of 2020, we intend to launch a performance sports car range made up of electrified low-emissions sports cars.’ The first of which will be a high-powered 508, as previewed by the Sport Engineered concept also headed to the 2019 Geneva show.
Is the new Peugeot 208 a tech powerhouse?
It wouldn’t be a 21st century car if the brand didn’t say it was. A huge number of assistance technologies will be available depending on spec and certain option packs, no doubt. When mated to an auto (or the EV) the adaptive cruise has the ability to make the car stop and go again in heavy traffic; with the manual, the system operates to as low as 18mph.
Lane departure and active lane-keep, auto parking and blindspot monitoring are available, too.
When can I get a new 208?
Prices are still to be confirmed, but the new 208 will go on sale around September 2019. Want an electric 208? Peugeot says it’ll be on sale around two months after the initial autumn launch of the ICE version. You can, however, reserve a new 208 now - regardless of its powertrain.
Inside the factory building new 208
Remember the days when Peugeots were assembled in Ryton, Coventry? That plant closed in 2006 – uncoincidentally within months of Peugeot 207 production beginning in Trnava, Slovakia. Last year, Trnava produced 352,000 Peugeot 208s and Citroën C3s, and it’s the European manufacturing hub for the all-new 208 too. Trnava’s one assembly line deploys three consecutive shifts working 24 hours a day during the week, to turn out 1395 cars daily. There’s a further shift at the weekend.
CAR paid a visit to the Slovakian factory, which is in the early stages of 208 ‘pre-online assembly’ preparation. That means only a handful of new-generation cars – between four and six on designated days – are blooded with the outgoing 208 and C3, to test the new assembly process and quality levels, before production is ramped up over the coming months.
Gilbert Legendre, the project manager in charge of installing P21 (the codename for new 208) in Trnava, says: ‘This is a very big launch for the factory: it’s a new platform, a new body, a completely new vehicle with an electric version.’ His team of 20 began their work in November 2018; they’ll be there until November this year.
One new challenge for Legendre’s team is to integrate e-208 production seamlessly into the assembly line. As it’s a continuous process, every work station has to complete its assembly task within 54 seconds, before each car is shunted onto the next stage. There are 219 work stations on the line, and dedicated work to assemble the electric version takes place on 96 of them: so almost 44% involve bespoke parts fitting for e-208s.
But the e-208 is pretty well integrated: the only dedicated EV areas are battery production, and welding the bespoke floorpan needed to house the battery tray. These e-floorpans are then carried into the same laser welding area as internal combustion cars, where the bodysides and roof are attached by eight robots undertaking 80 welds in 50 seconds, and the body-in-white is formed.
New 208: the end of the line
At the end of the line, completed Citroën C3s line up to undergo some 2500 quality checks, on diagnostic machines, visually, and with 2% taken out for a dynamic assessment on Trnava’s little circuit. In an antechamber, four new 208s are being crawled all over for quality defects.
Legendre has asked some suppliers to embed teams at the factories, to speed up the quality feedback loop – already a piece of door trim is being manufactured differently for a better fit behind the upper seal, and an air vent beside the steering wheel has similarly been sent back to the drawing board to improve fit and finish. Interestingly, ‘no airbag’ warning stickers adorn the car – it’s early February, and the engineering team is yet to complete final calibration of the airbag firing cycle.
The new 208 is only in the first stage of production integration. ‘We have quality criteria to reach in each phase,’ says Legendre. ‘In two weeks we have to take the decision whether we can go from pre-online assembly to online assembly.’ After that, the factory will produce more pilot cars in batches, then switch to the ramp-up phase, before start of production is scheduled for mid-July. ‘Quality is never finished!’ says Legendre. ‘But a key stage is when we’re satisfied enough to give the order to begin the commercial production of the new 208.’
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