New Peugeot e-208 vs used BMW i3: interiors
Want to go electric without paying a fortune? Peugeot’s all-new e-208 is a great choice. But BMW’s radical i3 is even more affordable as a used buy...
Behind the wheel
Driving position, visibility, build quality
The i3’s driving position is essentially ideal for an urban runabout, being slightly elevated and relatively upright, with a low dashboard and large windscreen giving a better view of the road ahead than you get in the more conventional e-208. It’s just a pity its seat doesn’t have adjustable lumbar support (this wasn’t available even as an option).
The e-208’s driver’s seat is more supportive than the i3’s, holding you in place nicely through bends, although again you can't have adjustable lumbar support.
In other respects, its driving position is more controversial, with a layout that forces you to look over the top of the small steering wheel to see the high-set instruments. If you happen to be tall or like to have the seat jacked up, you’ll have no problems. But just as many will find that the steering wheel blocks their view of the instruments and will have to move the wheel or seat to an unnatural position just so they can see what speed they’re doing.
This simply isn’t a problem in the i3 with its larger steering wheel and clear digital instrument panel, which is also easier to read at a glance than the e-208’s.
The i3 may have been designed nearly a decade ago, but its interior still looks thoroughly modern. Strips of exposed carbonfibre and panels made from unusual materials such as compressed kenaf plant fibre give it an upmarket, futuristic feel.
The e-208 can’t quite match the i3 for the quality of its materials, but it comes much closer than you might expect, with plenty of squidgy plastic on the dashboard and swish black and metal-effect trims helping to lift the ambience while also feeling reassuringly robust. It’s only low down that you’ll find a few scratchy plastics that aren’t present in the i3.
The e-208 comes as standard with a 7.0in touchscreen with a DAB radio, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, but pictured is the £650 upgraded 10.0in system. This adds sat-nav with live traffic reports, but the system’s responses are slow and the display is too dark, especially in bright sunshine. We’d recommend saving your money by sticking to the standard system and using the smartphone integration for navigation.
It’s worth seeking out an i3 fitted with the Pro Media package, which brings this bigger, 10.2in screen. However, no matter which infotainment system you have, the menus are easy to navigate, thanks to a rotary controller and shortcut buttons between the seats. The graphics are crisp, too, and the responses quick. The only disappointment is that there's not smartphone mirroring.
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