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Peugeot 208: Interior motives

  • Elaborate touchscreen works well so far
  • Lack of a CD player puzzles at first
  • USB music interface entertaining to use

Behind the wheel in the 208, it’s hard to ignore the touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard. It fairly dominates the interior.

Peugeot’s designers say the thinking behind it is to simplify and reduce the usual number of buttons and controls, and it does that effectively – the 208’s dash is a very clean environment without the usual collection of switchgear spray-gunned across the interior.

The touchscreen has been designed to sit in an optimal position for both reach and vision, but its closeness sometimes makes it hard to ignore when you’re on the move. One of the first things I found myself doing was finding the settings menu and turning the brightness down as low as possible.

I’ve been sceptical of touchscreens in the past, believing they require drivers to take their eyes off the road for longer than when using physical switches and dials. However, so far the 208’s system has been pretty intuitive to use. The displays are simple to understand and the majority of functions can be controlled from the steering wheel without fumbling to prod the screen while on the move.

The touchscreen is a sign of the times in more than one way. When initially poking around the 208 I spent a while trying to work out where they’d hidden the CD player; in actual fact, the touchscreen means it’s been done away with altogether.

Instead, music can be played through the car’s stereo from an mp3 player or ordinary memory stick via one of the 208’s USB ports. The interface works really well in this regard, detecting individual folders and tracks and displaying them on the touchscreen with album art, effectively turning the 208 into an iPod on wheels.

It’s also worth mentioning the stereo itself sounds pretty good, with a generous amount of bass that doesn’t turn the sound muddy.

Although the USB music interface is great fun to use and adds an extra dimension to the car, I wonder if it might not appeal to everyone. Despite the shift towards virtual rather than physical records in most people’s music collections, there are many who still enjoy listening to CDs and some older drivers may not be familiar with mp3 files. However, the interface does suit the 208’s youthful image and the idea of a memory stick of albums in the glovebox rather than a scattered assortment of CDs in wallets and cases makes a lot of sense.

The screen is a big part of the interior’s personality, but it isn’t fitted to the 208 range’s entry-level Access and Access+ trims. Instead, they get an old-school CD player in its place...

Current mileage: 6,868 miles

Average mpg: 52.2