THE chic new Peugeot 208 city car will feature a class-leading infotainment system and a renewed focus on driving dynamics when it goes on sale on October 19 priced from $18,490 plus on-road costs.
All variants in the lighter and funkier new model range – which kicks off $500 cheaper than its 207 predecessor and climbs to $26,490 for the flagship Allure 'warm' hatch – come standard with a seven-inch touchscreen unit, Bluetooth streaming and USB/iPod connectivity.
There is, however, one notable absence from the specification list, because Peugeot Australia has become the first car company to delete the CD player from one of its models Down Under.
Available as an optional extra in some overseas markets, Peugeot Australia director Bill Gillespie told journalists at the national launch last night that the company made the call to omit the player around three months ago.
“The statistics say that our intended buyers (aged between 30 and 40 on average) just aren't buying CDs any more,” he said.
“CD sales are halved, and the car has standard USB, Bluetooth and iPod and a touchscreen that works fantastically.
“I mean, I'm an older person and I don't have CDs rolling around in my car any more.
“I have an iPhone and all that stuff, and I think I'm not alone there. It's hardly an issue. In fact, we don't think it's an issue at all.”
The Pug's starting price puts it above the Volkswagen Polo five-door (from $16,990 plus on-roads), but the French contender offers more generous specification.
The 208 will also face stiff competition from the new and more comprehensive Renault Clio range due here later next year.
Peugeot claims the French-built 208 is the result of its “most ambitious specification overhaul ever adopted”, and is shorter yet roomier than the 207 with 285 litres of boot space and 5cm of extra rear knee room.
Despite its extra technology, the 208 tips the scales from as little as 975kg – up to 173kg lighter than before.
All Australian variants bar the top-line Allure will be sold in five-door guise only (in turn, the Allure is exclusively three-door), with four different specification levels and a trio of three- of four-cylinder petrol engine options.
As we have reported, Peugeot Australia won't offer a diesel engine on its smallest model. However the tiny 60kW/118Nm 1.2-litre non-turbo three-cylinder petrol engine that powers the base Active five-door (five-speed manual only) uses a claimed 4.5 litres per 100km – 0.1 better than the old 207 Hdi.
The Active can also be had with a four-speed automatic transmission for an additional $3000, although the self-shifter is only available with a larger 88kW/160Nm 1.6-litre engine that consumes a claimed 5.8L/100km.
This four-pot naturally aspirated unit is also available on the higher-specified Allure five-door with a five-speed manual from $21,990 or four-speed auto (an extra $2000), as well as the Allure Premium five-door automatic ($26,490).
Joining the Allure Premium at the top of the 208 tree is the $26,490 Allure Sport three-door, which features a warmed-up turbocharged version of the 1.6 with outputs of 115kW and 260Nm, a six-speed manual gearbox and a feather light 1090kg kerb weight with a full tank.
This engine hustles the Allure Premium from zero to 100km/h in a relatively slick 8.1 seconds.
As well as the connectivity system mentioned, the Active comes standard with cruise control, heated body coloured door mirrors, 15-inch steel wheels, and power windows, plus an innovative heads-up instrument binnacle that sits above the steering wheel.
On top of this, the Allure gets dual-zone climate control, 16-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, LED daytime running lights, automatic lights and wipers, a colour multi-function display, sports seats and a leather steering wheel.
The Allure Premium gets special cloth trim, glass roof with mood lighting, cornering fog lights, a chrome-tipped exhaust pipe, gloss black door trim, tinted rear windows and 17-inch alloys.
The Allure Sport gets half leather bucket seats, a blue-lit instrument panel, aluminium gear knob, drilled sports pedals, unique front grille, chrome tail pipes and rear spoiler.
All 208s gets six airbags – front, side and curtain – emergency brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution and automatic activation of the hazard lights in a collision.
As reported, the range will be joined in May 2013 by hot GTI and luxurious XY variants, the former of which will rock a 147kW turbocharged 1.6-litre engine and hark back to the famous 205 GTI.
Mr Gillespie said the brand also had the option of growing the range at the lower end with the addition of a cut-price entry variant, but cited its traditional lack of success with base-spec variants in Australia as a reason not to.
The company projects between 1500 and 1800 sales of the 208 for the first full year – compared with 1268 units for the 207 in the whole of 2011.
All 208 variants come with Peugeot's three-year/60,000km capped price servicing plan, with each annual service priced at $270.