New 2019 Peugeot 208

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.

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