Peugeot have unveiled images of the new 208. This’d be a good time to take a closer look at the styling and to find out if we like it or love it.
There are quite substantial detail and proportional changes in this car compared to the outgoing 208. In a way it has taken as drastic a turn as Doctor Who has taken with his/her latest re-incarnation. If you want to find out why I think this, then carry on reading the text that follows.
The last thing I added to the notes (below) is the first thing I noticed: the 208 is proportioned very chunkily. That’s down to the relatively small glass house and deep body under the DLO. Notice in particular that the waistline is not especially wedgy, in fact it’s pretty much back to horizontal again (see also the Swift). Ford is now stuck for 7 years with its carry-over wedge shape and inasmuch as anyone cares about styling anymore, that makes it maybe a little on the older-fashioned side. (It’s a good job the Fiesta’s surfacing is so lush).
Like the Focus and, I think, current C-class, the 208 has a more vertical or less raked front windscreen. That means the little quarter pane at the base of the A-pillar is now gone. And notice that the bonnet has a more horizontal line as well. And the rear windsceen is now more inclined but has a whopping big air-flow management thing on its aerodynamic roof.
Gone, at least on this version, is the brightwork on the DLO that made the outgoing 208 look so damned posh. The DLO itself is now aligned in style to the 308 – but the tabs on the rear lamps are not copied (thank goodness). In fact, the rear lamps are done in such a way as to avoid that cliché of recent years, the sharp cornered lamp (where the lamp and bumper-to-body meet). This has often been an eye-catcher for me, in a bad way and I am glad to see it expunged.
Overall, I feel I am looking at a Golfy-type car. It’s big, it’s robust, it’s deep-sided and unchromed. Is this car shooting for the VW Polo but saying “Golf”?
The front end is more or less as per the 508 – meaning that Peugeot is letting its big-car features trickle down rather than up. That white slash for the running light disrupts. Non, merci. Perhaps one day I will get used it but it is more likely to be one of those features on a car that will grate for two decades.
The rear of the 208 has a whole other calmness to it compared to the front. It’s as if they ran out of rage and anger by the time they finished the other end. I rather wish the front was more like the rear, really – do you? The rear suits the bodysides; the proportions work and don’t need the fury of those slashes or the angry lamp outlines nor the big, wide mouth of a grille.
The interior is something I will address maybe at another time. For the moment I can only say it does not photograph well. This is a mess of disconnected forms dangling against a curiously indeterminate background. Off hand, apart from Volvo, most car interiors are ordinary or worse.
Maybe I really need to think more about the interior, which is where people are spending their time. It will probably not be a bad place to be. The problem for me is the sheer excess. Too many horizontals run across the plastic mass in front of the passenger and driver; the screen and instrument pod hang in space – they really ought to be set against a subtly featureless expanse. Someone has to make “nothing” look acceptable. Do you know what you do here? Call in an artist.
The summary of this is that the 208 is now a “masculine” car. The previous versions were either gender neutral or a “feminine” cars. That is not to say this is a car for men or that the other cars were for women. It is that if one was to say what suggestions of gender this car had, I feel many would say it was an object with signs of masculinity. It also shows there is a decadence in design such that the major design change apparent in this car is a reversion to pre-existing forms: steep windscreen and straight shoulder line, pretty much as per 1983. Hello and goodbye and hello.