New Peugeot e-2008 and DS 3 Crossback E-Tense vs Kia e-Niro: interiors
Not one but two new small electric SUVs from Peugeot and DS have come along to challenge our favourite, the Kia e-Niro. Let’s see if the incumbent is in for a shock...
Behind the wheel
Driving position, visibility, build quality
We’ve mentioned the e-2008’s tiny steering wheel, which is part of Peugeot’s i-Cockpit philosophy. The theory is this: a small, low-set steering wheel lets you see the high-set instrument panel more easily (all three have digital dials as standard, and the E-Tense also has a head-up display that projects information into your line of sight). But many will find that the steering wheel is either too close to their legs or, if they raise it up, that it blocks their view of the instruments. As if to prove the futility of trying to reinvent the wheel, the other two, with their conventional setups, are fine.
All three have height-adjustable driver’s seats. They’re narrower in the e-2008 and E-Tense than in the e-Niro, and the two French cars aren’t available with lumbar adjustment, so for long-distance comfort, the e-Niro is best. The e-2008’s seat does have the most side support, though, while the E-Tense’s has barely any, forcing you to brace yourself through tight corners.
In the E-Tense and e-2008, the front and side pillars are thicker and nearer to you, so they’re less easy to see around. The E-Tense has the worst visibility, though, due to its flicked-up side window line. All of the cars have fairly thick rear pillars and a shallow rear screen, but the e-Niro’s are the least obstructive. Thankfully, all three come with front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera, plus bright LED headlights. The E-Tense’s and e-2008’s are adaptive, so you can leave them on main beam and not dazzle other motorists.
DS has trumpeted its premium aspirations, but does the E-Tense feel the plushest? Well, its interior design is certainly quirky, but it doesn’t feel better finished or built than the e-2008. If anything, we reckon the e-2008 has a slight edge, with nicer switches compared with its stablemate’s cheaper-looking silver plastic buttons lining the centre console. Both have a nice mix of materials elsewhere. The e-Niro has its fair share, too, with tactile upper surfaces complemented by gloss black trims. It doesn’t seem as lush as the e-2008 or as well screwed together in a couple of places, but it mostly feels durable.
The touchscreens are a similar size in all three cars, but you’ll notice that the sides of the E-Tense’s (and e-2008’s) are taken up by temperature controls, so the usable screen area is smaller than in the e-Niro. The screen isn’t as sharp as the e-Niro’s and can be slow to respond to inputs, while the menus are confusing. The touch-sensitive shortcut buttons below the screen are fiddlier to use than physical buttons but are at least bigger than the e-2008’s.
DS 3 Crossback E-Tense
All of the screen’s width is available for the infotainment, so it can display multiple things at once. The screen is also clear and well positioned, with physical shortcut buttons that are easy to see and use. It doesn’t take long to get to grips with the menus and the screen is the quickest to respond. Like the e-2008, it has wireless phone charging (a £200 option on the E-Tense from December). It also gets a premium JBL sound system that outpunches its rivals.
This is the same basic system as the E-Tense’s and suffers from the same issues with the restricted usable screen area, slow responses and confusing menus, but thankfully, as with the E-Tense, you can make use of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to bypass Peugeot’s software; this works very well. However, the touch-sensitive shortcut buttons are annoying; they’re tiny and squeezed onto a small panel behind the row of toggle switches, so they’re very hard to use at a glance.
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