New Fiat 500 vs Peugeot e-208: interiors

The Fiat 500 city car has entered an exciting new era by going fully electric. But how does it stack up against the highly accomplished Peugeot e-208?...

Fiat 500 electric 2021 dashboard

Behind the wheel

Driving position, visibility, build quality

The driving positions in our contenders could hardly be any more different. In the 500, you sit fairly high up in a ‘sit up and beg’ position, and you view the circular digital instrument panel (the speedo, rev counter and so on) by looking through an elegant two-spoke steering wheel.

None of our testers had any complaints about the arrangement, nor the amount of adjustment in the steering wheel and the supportive driver’s seat, although our car did have the optional Comfort Seats Pack (£300) fitted. If you don’t tick this box, you have to make do without seat height adjustment and a central armrest.

The e-208’s driving position, meanwhile, is as divisive as a Brexit debate. You sit lower in the car and are supposed to view the digital instruments by looking over the steering wheel, rather than through it – something Peugeot has tried to make easier by shrinking the wheel to the size of a dinner plate. You might find that the arrangement works brilliantly for you, especially if you’re tall or long in the body, but you could just as easily discover that the steering wheel blocks your view of important information.

Peugeot e-208 2021 dashboard

Something that’s even more likely to irk you about the e-208 is the fact that you have to use the centrally mounted touchscreen to control the air-con, so even the simple act of adjusting the temperature while driving can be a faff, not to mention distracting. In the 500, you get proper physical air-con controls, although the button for changing the temperature is on the small side.

If you’ve ever owned a petrol-powered 500, you might initially feel a little deflated by the modern and surprisingly conventional interior design in the new electric model. You’ll find lots of glossy black buttons and switches, and you open the doors like you would in a Tesla Model 3: by pressing a button instead of pulling a handle. That said, the layout and the quality of the materials are much better than in older 500s, so overall it’s a happy trade-off.

Infotainment systems

Fiat 500

Fiat 500 electric 2021 touchscreen

Go for Icon trim and you get a sizeable 10.3in touchscreen as standard (cheaper versions make do with a 7.0in display). It’s far better than even the optional 10.0in system on the e-208, with sharper graphics and faster responses to inputs. A few of the icons are a little on the small side, but the ability to customise the homescreen is really handy. You also get wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay phone mirroring, while wireless charging adds £130 to the price.

Peugeot e-208

Peugeot e-208 2021 touchscreen

As standard, you get a relatively small (7.0in) touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The optional 10.0in screen (pictured) is an improvement and adds built-in sat-nav, but it isn’t worth the £950 that Peugeot charges. Either way, image clarity isn’t great and there’s often a lengthy pause between you pressing the screen and anything happening. The touch-sensitive shortcut keys below the screen can be tricky to hit on the move, too.

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