New Peugeot 208 vs Audi A1 vs Mini hatchback: interiors

Peugeot’s new 208 aspires to go toe-to-toe with posh small hatches such as the Audi A1 and Mini 5dr. Let’s give them a good workout...

Audi A1 dashboard - white 19-plate car

Behind the wheel

Driving position, visibility, build quality

As with bigger Peugeot models, the 208’s driving position is controversial. You’re supposed to view its digital instruments by looking over, rather than through, the steering wheel – something Peugeot has tried to make easier by shrinking the steering wheel to the size of a dinner plate.

And if you happen to be long in the body, or you sit close to the steering wheel with the seat jacked up, you’ll probably think the whole arrangement is great. But just as many will find that the wheel completely blocks their view of the instruments and will have to resort to moving the wheel or seat to an unnatural position just so they know what speed they’re doing. We’d strongly advise taking a test drive before buying. The 208’s ‘3D’ instruments are also a case of style over substance, being trickier to read at a glance than their equivalents in the A1.

Mini 5dr dashboard - black 69-plate car

The A1’s conventional driving position works for a greater range of shapes and sizes. While its seat doesn’t hold you in place quite as well around corners, the fact that it has adjustable lumbar support (available only as part of a £1400 leather upgrade on the 208) makes it comfier on longer journeys.

The Mini is the only car here with leather seats as standard, plus there’s adjustable lumbar support to stop you from slouching. And although you get old-school analogue dials, they’re actually pretty easy to read. Our only minor complaint is that the pedals are offset to the right of the steering wheel, forcing you to sit at a slightly skewed angle.

Peugeot 208 dashboard - blue 69-plate car

You can’t fault the Mini’s interior quality, though. It feels a cut above its rivals, with materials that look upmarket and feel the part when you prod them. The A1 feels equally well screwed together, but there are far fewer soft-touch materials, while areas you touch regularly, such as the door tops, feel less than premium.

Perhaps surprisingly, the 208’s interior cuts the mustard in this company. Its dashboard feels squidgy, the leather on the steering wheel is suitably fine-grained and there are fewer hard plastics than in the A1. That said, there are some fairly large interior panel gaps in places and the front centre armrest feels wobbly compared with the equivalents in the A1 and Mini as specified here.