New Peugeot 308 vs Seat Leon vs Toyota Corolla: interiors

Is Peugeot’s new family car a class leader, or will it find itself stuck in no-man’s land like its predecessor? We’ve lined up excellent rivals from Seat and Toyota tofind out...

New Peugeot 308 dashboard

Behind the wheel

Driving position, visibility, build quality

Let’s start with the driving positions, because the Peugeot 308’s is unusual. As with other Peugeots in recent years, there’s a high-set digital instrument panel that you’re supposed to view above (rather than through) a tiny steering wheel. The good news is that most drivers won’t have any trouble seeing the instruments. The bad news is that the driving position is still a bit awkward; you almost feel as though you’re sitting on the floor.

As in its rivals, the 308’s driver’s seat has adjustable lumbar support to aid comfort. However, there isn’t a great deal of side support for cornering; you’re held in place much securely in the Seat Leon and Toyota Corolla. Fundamentally, the Leon has the best driving position, with the most seat height and steering wheel adjustment to suit drivers of different shapes and sizes.

Seat Leon dashboard

The only bugbear is that, as in the 308, you need to faff around with the touchscreen or some equally frustrating touch-sensitive panels just below it to adjust the interior temperature. In the Corolla, you just twist a well-positioned dial – an act that’s less distracting when you’re driving.

If your idea of a great interior is one that looks modern, with lots of different design details and material textures, you’ll love being inside the 308. The chiselled dashboard, angled towards the driver, also feels suitably upmarket, with plenty of soft-touch plastic and respectable build quality. Okay, the interior isn’t up there with that of the BMW 1 Series, but it’s one of the better efforts in the family car class.

Toyota Corolla dashboard

In comparison, the Corolla’s restrained and conventional design might initially leave you feeling underwhelmed. However, start touching things and you soon realise that Toyota has used high-quality materials that are screwed together in a way that puts the 308 (and most other cars in the class, for that matter) to shame.

The Leon, meanwhile, has neither the eye-catching design nor the rock-solid build quality of its two rivals. It’s still a perfectly pleasant place in which to while away the hours, though, with squidgy plastics used on most of the dashboard. Only cheap-feeling door pulls let the side down.

 Infotainment systems

Peugeot 308

New Peugeot 308 infotainment

The 308’s infotainment looks great, thanks to its crisp 10.0in main touchscreen and a separate shortcut screen below. Start interacting with it, though, and you’ll quickly become frustrated by its sluggish response times, plus the menu structure could be more intuitive. Apple CarPlay repeatedly crashed during our testing, although at least you can mirror your phone wirelessly. Sound quality could be better from the standard six-speaker stereo.

Seat Leon

Seat Leon infotainment

The Leon’s touchscreen is the same size as the 308’s (10.0in) but is a bit more responsive. The row of easy-to-reach shortcuts at the bottom of the screen helps to make the system easy to use, and you get used to the layout quickly enough. As in the others, phone mirroring is provided as standard, although there are still some bugs. When using CarPlay, for example, the display will randomly (but consistently) look as though it’s melting in some sort of bright pink liquid.

Toyota Corolla

Toyota Corolla infotainment

The Corolla’s infotainment system is far from class leading, but thanks to a new operating system and the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, it’s now perfectly fit for purpose. The touchscreen is relatively small (8.0in), but it responds quickly to prods and is positioned nice and high on the dashboard, so it’s easy to see and reach. The sound system has only six speakers but delivers the best sound quality here.

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