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The Top Gear car review:Peugeot 208
On the inside
Layout, finish and space
The first thing you notice is the uplift in quality. The materials aren’t just better than the old 208’s. The denser plastics, tasteful metal and woven ‘carbon’ touches put anything up to a Mini in the shade here. Audi and VW have slightly sacrificed touchy-feely quality at the altar of ever-snazzier touchscreens. Peugeot… hasn’t.
Yep, usual Peugeot-Citroen gripe. The touchscreen in which the climate control is buried isn’t the swiftest to react, nor the most logical to operate. Still, the touch-sensitive shortcut keys help matters, and there’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. So it’s not as if you’ll ever use the built-in nav. That’s what Waze is for.
Elsewhere, Peugeot’s pulled off some lovely touches in the 208. The ‘3D’ instrument cluster works superbly, projecting speed just that bit more prominently than say, revs or fuel. It’s a really attractive and unique detail. Peugeot reckons it saves 0.5sec of glancing time which makes taking your eyes off the road safer. Even if that’s intangible, it’s a pleasant touch and for configuration-happy types there are several different screen layouts and colour schemes to cycle through.
Cabin stowage isn’t a strong suit – the cupholders won’t support your grande latte and the door bins aren’t carpeted, so anything in there will rattle like, well, an old Peugeot. But we like the idea of concealing the rubberised smartphone pad – equipped with wireless charging in GT-line models – behind a rotating door. Anything that makes phone usage behind the wheel less of a temptation is to be applauded. There’s a regular USB and USB-C socket too, so the 208’s futureproof but doesn’t alienate most current devices. Take note, Mercedes.
All 208s have five doors – the market for three-door hatchbacks simply dried up without trace. So, access to the rear seats is a doddle, but they’re not the roomiest pair. Two adults will just about survive a short lift, but this is a family car if the kids are pre-teens only. Still, even if you pick the e-208, there’s no sacrifice in boot space or legroom, as the batteries fill the cavities vacated by the exhaust and fuel tank.