But that really is irrelevant, for the simple reason that the Peugeot 208 is a great little car, regardless of whether or not you choose to isolate it from its history, expectations and what it is “supposed” to be (you should).
It already impresses at first glance. Few can argue that it’s a looker at the front, especially with that strip of LED lighting running along the outside edge of the front lamps.
The back, however, with its crab-claw light clusters, will polarise opinion a bit more. I, for one, don’t like them.
On the inside, the 208 wins and loses points.
Its interior quality is immaculate for a car in this class. Some of the plastics are a tad hard to the touch, but nothing feels or looks cheap.
Familiarity with the ergonomics takes a while though. The dominating feature in this top-of-the-range model is the touch-screen display featuring Peugeot’s SMEG technology, which controls all radio and connectivity functions.
No one can accuse Peugeot of designing a dull interface. It is attractive and kind of funky, but it’s not very user-friendly while driving and you’re going to have to spend some down time figuring everything out.
I also couldn’t for the life of me find the workings for the cruise control until I accidentally missed the indicator stalk when wanting to turn and my finger hit the stalk for the cruise control. It is positioned precisely behind the steering wheel’s left spoke, completely out of sight. Working it is a synch though.
The 208’s instruments are absolutely stunning.
They’re simple and clear and illuminated with beautiful white back-lighting at night. Ditto the trip computer, which also features a digital speed readout.
It’s a pity then that you can’t really see it. Due to the (admittedly awesome) steering wheel’s size, its top rim sits almost exactly in your eyeline, meaning that you have to look over or under the wheel, depending on how tall you are.
Where the little Peugeot wins back masses of points though, is its comfort. The seats are wonderfully supportive and that quirky small leather-clad steering wheel is wonderful to hold.
On the move, the 208 is a bundle of awesomeness. It’s not very fast, but it knows how to use what speed it has. It’s nimble and great fun.
We’re accustomed to driving different cars very often and don’t get all that sentimental about them, but I had to lend the 208 to my editor one night and boy, did I miss it! Once I got the keys back and settled in the driver’s seat, I heaved a sigh of absolute childlike bliss.
Yes, it’s not perfect. It took me a while to find a comfortable seating position, the ‘sticky’ touch of the media interface is frustrating and it really isn’t all that spacious. I also couldn’t even closely match the claimed fuel consumption (by which I don’t mean that its consumption isn’t good). But I love this car!
Take its relatively high price, likely resale value and competition out of the picture and I would buy a 208 in a heartbeat.
Actually, you can factor the competition back in, because the only car that might make me reconsider, is the Kia Rio. And that’s very good company to be in.