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.
What's it like?
Once you’ve got comfortable with having the odd little wheel in an unnaturally low position (this may take more than a few hours of driving), you can think more about the steering, and then another clear link to the 508 presents itself.
The 208 steers in a much similar manner to the more expensive Peugeot, feeling direct but also numb. While you wouldn’t call it vague, it doesn’t gather weight progressively or bite like that of the Fiesta or Seat Ibiza. This makes the 208 easy to manoeuvre around town, where admittedly most owners will spend the majority of their time, but it means you can forget any echoes of the famous 205 GTi.
On a country road, you simply don’t get the confidence that you would in a Fiesta to swing through corners. Sure, you can get going at a decent pace, and the strong grip available will prevent any unexpected wide-eyed moments, but this sort of jaunt won’t be something you chase. Indeed, at times, it can feel as if you’re playing an arcade game with a wheel that lacks force feedback.
Loose body control in corners contributes to your backing off. However, the predictable flipside to this softer chassis set-up is that ride quality is fantastic. Whether or not some additional fine-tuning has taken place since we first drove the 208 abroad, our fears of brittle damping appear not to have materialised in the UK.
On its passive suspension and torsion-beam rear, the 208 smooths over potholes and ridges in urban settings with surprising finesse. It’s equally impressive on the motorway, cruising sublimely while dealing nonchalantly with undulations; it’s softer than the Fiesta and even the new Renault Clio, exhibiting a kind of controlled floatiness. In fact, it’s also more comfortable overall than the Polo – until now the benchmark for comfort in this class.