New Peugeot 208 & Renault Clio vs Volkswagen Polo

With upmarket interiors and lots of kit, the new Peugeot 208 and Renault Clio could upset the small car class. The rival they must beat is the Volkswagen Polo...

Peugeot 208 rear seats

Space and practicality

Front space, rear space, seating flexibility, boot

As well as obscuring your view, the 208’s fat windscreen and canted-in side pillars sit closer to your head, making it feel the smallest in the front. However, it actually has as  much head room as its rivals and leg room that’s as generous as in the Polo. The Clio has the least leg room, but all of them will fit six-footers, no problem. There’s lots of storage space in the front of each, too, including under their centre armrests (a standard feature of the 208 but a £200 option in the Clio and £135 in the Polo). 

Renault Clio rear seats

Two lofty adults will be the least comfortable in the back of the Clio. They’ll have by far the least head and leg room, while asking three adults to sit side by side would be torture. You can just about manage that feat in the other two, and the middle passenger will be happiest in the 208, which offers a bit more knee room between its front seats. For two adults sitting in the back, the Polo has the edge; it’s easier to get in and out of than the 208, feels airier once inside and has a bit more head room and the most foot space under its front seats.

Volkswagen Polo rear seats

The subwoofer under the boot floor of this Beats-spec Polo not only means you can’t have a spare wheel but also removes the useful height-adjustable boot floor that the rest of the range comes with. Consequently, its boot is the shallowest of the three and can hold only four carry-on cases below the parcel shelf. That’s not a great total, although there is a decent chunk of additional space under the boot floor. 

Neither of the other two gets a height-adjustable boot floor in any trim, but their boots are deeper and the Clio’s is also longer. They can hold five cases each, although you have to put up with much higher loading lips; the Clio’s, in particular, is more than 27cm from the edge of the opening down to the boot floor. When you fold down their 60/40-split rear seats, the Polo is the only one that leaves you with a flat extended load area. 

Peugeot 208

Peugeot 208 boot

We managed to squeeze five carry-on suitcases below the 208’s parcel shelf. The boot aperture is relatively narrow, though, and there’s no height-adjustable floor.

Boot 311-1106 litres Suitcases 5

Renault Clio

Renault Clio boot

For outright space, the Clio’s boot just pips the 208’s. However, the enormous 270mm drop down to the boot floor from the top of the load lip isn’t ideal.

Boot 391-1069 litres Suitcases 5

Volkswagen Polo

Volkswagen Polo boot

Most Polos have a height-adjustable boot floor, but the floor in this Beats version is fixed in what would be its highest setting to accommodate a subwoofer below.

Boot 351-1125 litres Suitcases 4

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