Sexy in the city Peugeot hatch
Peugeot 208. Supplied picture

The bit about the Peugeot 208 launch that most took my fancy had nought to do with mechanicals.

It was the Roy Morgan research on likely buyer types for the sexy French hatch that did it for me.

The profiling suggested most were people who dressed to impress. They also pampered themselves with luxury goods and shopped on quality over price.

All of that should be comforting for Peugeot, whose 208 price tags haven't joined the current race to the bottom.

The all-new car kicks off at $18,490 while many rival light hatches begin at $15,000, a 1995 price level.

I must keep an eye out for mortarboards at Peugeot showrooms, with Morgans saying many likely 208 buyers perceive themselves as intellectuals.

Their interests include museums, opera, wine, dining and entertaining. The women (and some of the men) are likely to frequent beauty salons and spas.

Despite their cerebral bent, Peugeot's propects are capable of buying a car on love at first sight, so the profiling says.

That's OK news for Peugeot, too, because the 208's easy on the eye.

The big seller will be the five- door while the more sculpted three-door shape is for sports models, including the future GTi.

The big multimedia screen, soft-touch materials, shiny highlights and a beautiful dash provide interior ambience.

But the premier cabin feature is the perfect driving position. I love the tiny sports steering wheel and high instrument positioning.

Instead of peering between the steering-wheel spokes, you look above the wheel for easy reading.

All cars should be like that.

Such a command driving seat would be wasted if the car's dynamics were found wanting.

But it's want not with the 208, which provides superb steering, handling and ride quality.

I think every minute would be enjoyable in such an agile, sensitive and responsive machine.

The three-engine, all-petrol line-up provides 60, 88 or 115 kiloWatt outputs, the latter turbo.

Australians are opting more and more for sippers over scorchers but will we warm to three- cylinder models?

That's the poser for the entry 1.2-litre, which joins a rush of city-focused cars.

Already we have a two-pot screamer, the Fiat 500, and the three-cylinder Nissan Micra, Suzuki Alto and Volkswagen Up.

Coming are the three-cylinder Skoda Citigo, Mitsubishi Mirage and Ford Fiesta.

But the entry 208 is no snail and excels at its purpose - green city driving - in sipping 4.7L/100km.

Note it's manual only.

Most people will go for the 1.6-litre four-cylinder, which uses 5.8L/100km manual and 6.7 auto.

A very spirited drive is provided by the manual-only 1.6-litre turbo.

It gets to 0-100km/h in 8.1 seconds and uses 5.8L/100km - miniscule for such a lively car.

In the range, there are four trim levels - Active, Allure, Allure Premium and Allure Sport.

So people who want to downsize their car but not their luxuries are well catered for.

The 208 could be just the ticket for a typical buyer's night out.

Pick up a friend, zigzag through the congestion and slip into a tight parking space.

Then a chic city bar for a pre-opera tasting plate.


LOWDOWN

Active 1.2L three-cylinder manual $18,490
Active 1.6L auto $21,490
Allure 1.6L manual $21,990
Allure 1.6L auto $23,990
Allure Premium 1.6L auto $26,490
Allure Sport 1.6L turbo manual three-door $26,490

The West Australian

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