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Used electric cars: Honda E vs Peugeot e-208: interiors

You can save up to £9000 by buying either of these two small electric cars nearly new rather than new. They're both bang on-trend, but which one makes more sense used?...

Honda E dashboard

Behind the wheel

Driving position, visibility, build quality, practicality

We’re big fans of the Peugeot e-208 interior. With its plethora of swish materials, including gloss black and carbon fibre-effect trims, it has a futuristic look that’s backed up by fine build quality.

The Honda E is even better, though. The slim-rimmed two-spoke steering wheel is wonderfully retro and feels lovely to hold, and between the dense-feeling upholstery and wood-effect trim, the dashboard is as striking as a piece of G Plan furniture.

Peugeot e-208 dashboard

There’s substance behind the style, too, as the Honda E has a better driving position than its rival. While both cars’ seats are highly adjustable, the e-208 has an unusually small steering wheel that you’re supposed to look over rather than through to see the high-set instrument panel.

That arrangement won’t work for some drivers, who will find that the steering wheel either blocks their view of the ‘3D’ digital instruments or is uncomfortably close to their legs. The Honda E has a normal-sized wheel and a clearer 12.3in digital instrument panel.

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In terms of visibility, the Honda E has the edge again, but by a smaller margin. It has thinner windscreen pillars and larger side windows than the e-208 – helpful when you’re trying to see round corners or pull out of a junction. Judging the Honda E’s extremities when you’re parking is easier because of the larger rear window.

Honda E infotainment screen

That said, the Honda E’s ‘virtual’ door mirrors take some getting used to. The cameras feed the rearward view from the sides of the car to small screens on the outer edges of the dashboard. The screens display useful guidance lines when you indicate to help you judge how far away you are from other cars.

Refocusing your eyes on a screen always seems to take a fraction of a second longer than it would with glass mirrors. On the plus side, though, the virtual mirrors (which in Advance trim also include a camera for the central rear-view mirror) are clearer in low-light conditions than real ones.

As far as the infotainment set-ups go, the Honda E has two 12.3in touchscreens in the middle of the dash. You can display most functions on whichever screen you choose, but the graphics aren’t as sharp as you might like, the screens are sometimes slow to respond to prods and the menus can be confusing. You can use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto phone mirroring to bypass Honda’s system.

Peugeot e-208 infotainment screen

The e-208’s touchscreen is a decent size (10.0in) and its graphics are clear enough. It sits high up on the dashboard too, making it easy to see without taking your eyes too far from the road, but it can be sluggish to respond to commands, and we’re not fans of the shortcuts. They bring up the main menus (for the sat-nav or radio, for example) and are touch-sensitive rather than real buttons so they’re tricky to use while driving.

The Honda E's higher-set front seats and standard panoramic glass roof mean occupants will find their heads closer to the ceiling than in the e-208, although there’s still enough space for six-footers. In fact the Honda E arguably feels more spacious up front because it has a broader interior and there's no conventional console between the seats.

In the back, the boxier Honda E offers fractionally more head room, but you sit bolt upright and most six-footers will find their knees brushing the backs of the seat in front. There are only two seatbelts in the back, so carrying five people is out of the question. Leg room is even tighter in the e-208 and it’s a real squeeze for three adults to sit side by side.

Honda E boot

Talking of squeezes, that’s what you’re likely to be faced with when you try to put your luggage in the Honda E’s tiny boot. And we mean tiny. We managed to fit just two carry-on suitcases below the parcel shelf, as opposed to five in the e-208.

To make matters worse, while the Honda E’s rear seatbacks fold down when you need to carry more than just a couple of bags, they do so in one cumbersome piece rather than with the handy 60/40 split you get in the e-208. If you want to carry, say, a buggy plus a rear passenger, forget about it in the Honda E. One of them will have to stay home.