What is it?
It’s most obvious in the exterior styling, which could fairly be described as radical for the supermini segment. With the same ‘lion claw’ daytime running lights, conspicous three-digit badge on the nose, chunky wheelarch claddings and gloss-black bar connecting its LED tail-lights, it really stands out from its contemporaries, which include the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo.
Slightly cartoonish proportions and mustard-yellow paint heighten the effect to the extent that, with the two cars side by side, you would guess far that more than two decades seperate the 208 from its turn-of-the-century 206 ancestor.
The ‘trickle-down effect’ continues inside. Whereas the previous 208 looked as normal as you like inside, the new model really is something else. The first thing you notice is how tiny the oblong steering wheel is. It sits below a new 3D version of Peugeot’s digital instrument display, whereon certain features – most notably speed and the arrow representing your position on the sat-nav map – often seem closer to your own nose than the background. This is the kind of thing that feels more expensive – premium, if we must – than it was to develop.
To the left is a 10.0in infotainment touchscreen (7.0in on Active and Allure trims) that sits atop a helpful row of piano-key-style shortcut buttons. Well, one row of buttons in front of a row of flat touch-sensitive icons, which seems a very odd decision, because it means you can learn to operate by rote where only half the things are.
The display itself is clear and crisp, and its software reacts to your inputs with little delay, although it must be said that the menu structure is confusing. You also have to adjust the air conditioning via the touchscreen, which proves an endless source of frustration.
Most positively, however, the quality of the interior is very impressive. So fancy do the materials feel on all of the areas you touch regularly, whether plastic or faux leather, that perhaps the only fair comparison in the class is the Mini 5dr.