Don't let the tiny wheel steer you away from new Peugeot
All the talk was about the steering wheel and the weather at this week's unveiling of the new Peugeot 208.
The steering wheel is tiny -- the size of a medium pizza. But perched above it is the instrument cluster -- speedo, temperature and all that -- so it is not blocked from your sight. No more peering through the wheel to see what speed you're doing.
Of course, there is more, much more to the car. Not least the floating grille, sculpted lights and 'boomerang' rear lamps, and the price.
It starts at €14,495 excluding dealer-delivery charges for the 1-petrol (68bhp) 3dr.
It looks sturdy, set forward on the four wheels, but it is 7cm shorter than the 207 it replaces.
However, there is more room for the rear passengers and the boot is bigger. It has also lost weight -- down 110kg on the 207.
There are three trims -- Access, Active and Allure.
Standard equipment includes six airbags, cruise control with speed limiter, electric front windows, full-size spare wheel, child safety locks, two child-seat ISOFIX fixtures, radio and CD player with 3.5mm jack for external audio device, remote controls for audio system on its steering column and daytime running lights with 'follow-me- home' function.
Active adds air con, 7-in multi-function colour touchscreen with 3.5mm jack, USB connection, bluetooth, 15-in alloys and front fogs.
Allure adds LED daytime running lights, tinted rear windows, auto lights and wipers and 16-in alloys.
The line-up includes a 1- litre petrol (68bhp, 99g/km), 1.2-litre (82bhp, 104g/km), a 1.4-litre HDi diesel (68bhp, 98g/km) and a 1.4-litre eHDi diesel (68bhp, 87g/km). The emissions are worthy of note -- down as much as 34g/km on the 207.
It goes without saying that all easily fall inside the Band A road tax range.
Peugeot is hoping to sell up to 300 here this year, though the market is really contracting now.
Next year, with a clear run and no supply difficulties, it is targeting 1,000 registrations.
There's plenty of room in it, and the diesel is a spritely little number. As you'd expect from a small Peugeot, the handling is taut and precise.
I expected to be put off by the steering wheel, but far from it.
Indeed, I think it makes the car easier to drive and a bit more fun.
It certainly provides a focal point in one of the most uncluttered cabins around -- and that is meant as a compliment.
Those buying a supermini these days have an enormous choice.
I think the 208 will be high on the shopping list.