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Suits you madam... and sir won't be disappointed.

AFEW longer-stay patients were shooting the breeze in Heathrow's executive delay lounge recently, mulling over the way the job had changed, not least how walking into some far-flung foreign bar no longer guarantees the ejector seats by the door but the incontinence table near the toilets.

Then there are the cars. Early in my road-testing days a Vauxhall - there were many Vauxhalls - refused to start on three out of seven frosty mornings. If that was the nub of a review today it is possible the entire press relations department would defenestrate itself.

The mantra of the day was that if you wanted a motor which started first time, buy Japanese. A quite reasonable argument if you were prepared to ask people if they wanted to see your Cedric and bringing a radical new aspect to car theft reporting: "Hello officer, I've lost my Cherry."

The only good thing I can say about the Datsun 180B, for instance, is that its seats fitted perfectly into a 3-series Land Rover and it could be painted up to look like the Starsky and Hutch Gran Torino. Minus the Gran bit.

One thing is certain. Luxury fixtures and fittings were not available in the plebeian market. Interiors were not so much Conran as Conan the Barbarian.

Bringing us to the Peugeot 208 XY.

In 1979 Peugeot had little to shout about other than the fact that it was neither as bonkers as Citroen or had thought, as Renault did with the R14, that the profile of a farmyard animal was ideal inspiration for a car's design.

Today, there is plenty to recommend the make, from the soon to be discussed 2008 space odyssey to the latest GTi, which is still fast enough to frighten trees and yet with the about-town manners and sophistication of your mother.

The XY is a high-spec manifestation of the 208. If you pressed me for a one-liner, I'd say it's perfect for ladies who lunch.

There is, however, much more to consider. The XY is a trim and equipment job, based on the six-speed manual 208 with 1.6, 115bhp e-HDi diesel or two petrol engines, one a turbo. The diesel is not fast at 9.7 seconds to 62mph.

It is, on the other hand, cheap to run. It is tax free, for ever, because it emits 99g/km of carbon and there is the potential for a staggering 74mpg.

Not, though, particularly cheap to buy at PS18k. So why would you? Well let's talk modern realities here. Where once there was a company cruiser or expensive family saloon, there's a bit of downsizing, without accepting that a three-door hatch means death by deprivation.

This is a truly welcoming interior. The hard plastics of the basic 208 are softened with a slaughterhouse of leather on seats, steering wheel and fascia trim. There's a full-length glass roof with ambient lighting, centre arm rest and lots of detailing.

Other style features include 17in alloys, wider track and coloured wheel arches.

Equipment wise, it has more or less everything bar an electric security fence. There is a wipers, mirrors and daytime lights visibility pack to complement, touch-screen navigation and entertainment centre, air con, parking sensors and five-star safety.

Everything else you know about the 208 remains the same. The steering has been revised to give a more planted feel at the sort of speeds I suspect most owners will rarely reach. What's different is that now you can have bespoke styling without buying the full three-piece suit.


The Peugeot 208 XY looks the business, right down to the wheel arches and alloys, below
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 13, 2013
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