Peugeot 208 vs. Renault Clio (2023). First game for restyled city cars

Although the restyled Renault Clio and Peugeot 208 will only be revealed in 2023, L’argus has already obtained a lot of information on the facelift of these two sworn enemies. Here is a first virtual match that shows the main developments of the stars of the market.

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In 2023, the Peugeot 208 and Renault Clio will be restyled for several months. Argus brings you its exclusive information on this double facelift.

The argument

For decades, tiny Renaults and their Peugeot equivalents have battled to occupy the top of the sales charts in France. At Losange, this role has been assigned to the Clio for more than 30 years and five generations. On its competitor, on the other hand, only since 2012 has imposed its own appellation 208. The current model is only the second to carry this name. But he feels like he’s growing, to the point where he took first place in Europe in 2022! A position he also occupies in France from 2021, and in contrast to the difficulties experienced by his opponent. Last year, in its home country, the Clio was even overtaken by one of its cousins, the Dacia Sandero, which fell to the third step of the podium. It was enough to persuade Renault to roll up its sleeves to offer its fallen star a large-scale restyling, which will be presented in the spring of 2023. However, the 208 will not impress with this putsch attempt. Next November, it also deserves a very visible facelift. This is therefore a real comeback match that is being prepared behind the scenes, and L’argus is already giving you a taste of it.

Style: Dramatic Changes

After a successful fourth generation, the Clio has kept a fairly similar style for its fifth version. But not Volkswagen Golf wanted! This very conservative choice is not to the liking of all customers, who prefer a more noticeable new effect. Now led by Gilles Vidal, former Peugeot style boss, the Renault design team set out to rectify the situation with this restyling. All this while changing as few parts as possible to avoid overspending. According to our information, one of the main changes will come from the removal of the C-shaped light hooks under the headlights, which will be redesigned. The grille and shields will also be revised, to freshen up its look and give it more personality. As for the stern, it will benefit from more careful developments, at the level of the bumper and inside the lights.

In its status as a leader, the 208 could have enjoyed a slight facelift. However, it will be the complete opposite. The little Lioness will have a more “cat” and aggressive face, thanks to the arrival of an unprecedented triple luminous claw. This gimmick bears the mark of Matthias Hossann, Gilles Vidal’s replacement at the head of design. We have already discovered this in the 9X8 endurance prototype, then in the Inception concept at the beginning of the year and will gradually generalize it to the whole range. Therefore, the Sochaux brand will not hesitate to mess up the face of its best seller, a strategy that succeeded in the 3008. But the rear changes are also more planned, as for the Clio. If the future 208 will be 100% electric in 2027, it is not excluded that the current model will be extended to offer a more accessible thermal model. For its part, the Clio 6 (project B1318) is on track for 2026 and promises to be impressive in terms of style. It will be replaced with a 1.2 mild-hybrid 48V and a new 1.8 hybrid.

Passenger compartment: spending under surveillance

When a model comes halfway, it is quite rare that it offers a new dashboard. In general, manufacturers prefer to wait for a completely new generation for expensive style redesign. Excellently born in this area, with their interiors both modern and neat, the Peugeot 208 and Renault Clio will show modesty. Their screens will remarkably keep the same layout, as well as the aerators or the main controls. On the other hand, in one case as in another, the multimedia system can be improved. The city car with the Lion will now be joined by its big brother, the 308.

Although it’s difficult to use and a bit slow at times, it’s undeniably more modern and responsive than its predecessor. While still being able to evolve over time thanks to over-the-air (OTA) updates. In Losange, we already have a strong argument to respond: an interface signed by Google, which we praised for the efficiency and simplicity worthy of a smartphone in Mégane E-Tech and Austral. Alas, the restyled Clio has no right here. It will enjoy an evolution of the current Easy Link. The two competitors will also inherit some new safety equipment such as an “intelligent” cruise control or a central airbag, to meet the mandatory European GSR II regulation from July 2024.

Engines: nothing new at Peugeot

On the engine side, the Clio will mainly benefit from this restyling to clean up. The slow three-cylinder atmospheric gasoline 1.0 SCe 65 entry level should leave the range in France, and the pleasant four-cylinder 1.3 TCe 140 hp will be left everywhere else in Europe. In addition to the Blue dCi 100 diesel, the thermal offer is therefore limited to the three-cylinder 1.0 turbo. To compensate, the latter will now be offered in three power levels: 90 hp, 105 hp compatible with LPG and an unprecedented 115 hp variant with direct injection. The original Nissan X-Tronic continuously variable automatic transmission will also be removed, and the arrival of a new Getrag dual-clutch gearbox is only planned for the new 1.2 Turbo (HR12). Thus, Renault will bet more than ever on the E-Tech 145 hybrid, which will represent almost 30% of the 64,031 model registrations in France in 2021. The slightly increased battery capacity, from 1.2 to 1.3 kWh, will give allow this variant to run a bit more often without using the four-cylinder 1.6 petrol engine.

At Peugeot, the approach adopted so far is quite different. Unlike its rival, which leaves this role to the Zoe pending the expected arrival of the future R5, the 208 is actually offered in 100% electric. An e-208 that made up more than 20% of the 88,820 sales of this city car in 2021. However, the brand will not wait for its facelift to develop. From February, the GT version will benefit from a new engine, made by Nidec and with 156 hp instead of 136 hp. This will be accompanied by a slightly increased battery capacity, and these changes will be extended to the entire range. Another change is planned before restyling, and it may concern Clio. This will take the form of an unprecedented 100 hp 1.2 Hybrid version, scheduled for June. It will combine a new generation 1.2 Puretech three-cylinder with a rather special dual-clutch transmission, developed by equipment manufacturer Punch Powertrain, and a small 21 kW electric motor. This limited power and the small battery capacity of 0.9 kWh will prevent driving as often without starting the combustion engine as in the Renault. But this improved light hybridization should also be cheaper than the e-Tech 140. Including its 136 hp version, which should land in November at the same time as the restyling. As for the 100% thermal variants, they will remain in the catalog together with manual gearboxes, in gasoline as in diesel.

Renault Clio vs Peugeot 208 restyled report

Media Photo


During the matches organized in 2019 by our testers, Clio beat 208. But customers decided differently.

In the battles organized in 2019 by our testers, the Clio beat the 208. But customers decided differently because, in appearance, the 208 caught their attention.

Thomas Antoine/ACE Team

When our testers faced the Clio and 208 twice, in 2019, shortly after their launch, they awarded victory to the Renault each time. Easier to live in, equipped with a larger trunk and somewhat better finished, it has above all the advantage of being cheaper than its opponent, with comparable equipment. An argument that is no less true today, and has not prevented customers from giving a clear preference to Peugeot. The fault, in large part, in the Diamond’s considered too smart city car style. Will the major restyling reverse which will benefit the latter? It’s not impossible, especially since the former design manager of the Lion brand, Gilles Vidal, oversaw this facelift. But his successor, Matthias Hossann, is keen to offer a makeover worthy of the name to the 208. While the Lioness will also benefit from more significant mechanical development than its competitors, starting with the arrival of two hybrid versions. The fight therefore remains very undecided for the moment, and we have to wait many months to formulate a final result, which flies in the hand. If Renault releases the restyling of the Clio this spring (launching in September), its competitor is not scheduled before November 2023.


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