Past Curved Beams Cut The Wintry Rays

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.

New and blue: source

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.

Goodbye: source

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.

Here you are: source

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”?

2018 Peugeot 508: ANE

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.

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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.

2019 Peugeot 208 interior: source

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.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

34 thoughts on “Past Curved Beams Cut The Wintry Rays”

  1. I see nothing here that attracts other than a low set steering wheel, a feature I miss from my previous steed and one I never really thought about until becoming accustomed in use. The high set instruments in line of sight as opposed to looking through the wheel are also noteworthy in Peugeots.

  2. The photo of the outgoing model reminds me how bottom heavy it is, especially towards the rear. As Richard says, the new model is a welcome return to less a extreme form, with a flatter waistline and more upright windscreen. I’m happy to see the back of those fussy front quarter lights and large sail panels that often feature in monobox designs.

    That said, I’m disappointed that Peugeot have reverted to the “big gob” look with the front grille. The 308 and 508 have much less aggressive fronts with shallow main grilles, so this is an unpleasant surprise. The fangs” work no better here than on the 508 and are a really disruptive detail. I’m not sure about the high gloss black wheel arch eyebrows either. Will they be standard throughout the range? If so, they may make low line models look very under-wheeled, as with the Mini hatch.

    1. Yes, it’s a shame Monsieur Vidal et al felt compelled to add that large grille to one of its smaller cars.

      It’s quite clear that this 208 and the new Audi A1 were designed to a very similar brief: ‘Make a masculine, rather than a girly posh supermini.’ Within these parameters (and based solely on the pictures, in the Peugeot’s case), I have a lot more time for what the French came up with, even though certain details may be not my cup of tea.

      Final judgement remains reserved until next week though, obviously.

    2. Hi Daniel,

      Yes the wheel arches are shockingly oversized, it’s the first thing that striked me. It’s a strange choice I think, it may make the wheels look tiny because I’am not sure many people will “read” the black expanse as part of the tire but more like part of the black void between wheel arch and tire.
      The glossy black arches are not standard on all models, just the GT Line and e-208 for now (GTI in the future ?). There are pictures of the versions without the arches but I think only in a factory setting, the wheel arch then resemble what we’ve seen on the e-legend concept.

  3. Another benefit of the more upright screen is that the door mirrors can again be mounted on the sail panel, rather than further back on the doors. The mirror housing then makes for a neat forward end to the DLO. Many cab-forward designs are very compromised in this area.

  4. I join Richard in wishing for the deletion of the LED-fangs and triple slashes in the headlamp units. I suppose they are designed to – and succeed in – marking the car out from others in the market, but it’s all a bit gauche.

    I quite like the profile, but the car carries way too much visual weight, particularly below the waste-line. Indeed, then I first saw pictures of the new 208, I thought of both the Mazda 2 and out-going A1 (so much nicer than the new car), but a lot chubbier around the bumper-wheel arch-sill-bumper level. The stance looks nice and four-square, but why the need for those gloss-black plastic arch extensions? Apparently, they don’t feature on lesser trims, and one wonders the impact of their deletion – it’s expressly described as a trompe l’oeil by the designer, so what is he disguising?

    Although I agree that the interior has a certain fussiness, I think it’s quite an appealing mix of futuristic, tactile and quality – the finish looks great on the photos and videos I have seen. Overall, I’d say it’s far more appealing than the Polo, new A1, Fiesta …

  5. I wonder if the black plastic wheel arch extensions are intended to make it look a bit SUV-like in the style of the Fiesta Active? There’s a cute pertness about the derrière that’s redolent of the 205. I see it has the compulsory rear tailgate spoiler. Based only on photographs, I prefer the interior of the new Clio to this car’s black and chrome hotel bathroom vibe.

    1. I am not sure there is any more room ahead of car design to take any forward steps. That´s why the straight shoulder line and upright windscreen are back in style. It´s like trousers: wide leg followed by narrow leg followed by wide leg followed by narrow leg et cetera

    1. Perhaps the intended effect was to make us consider the wheel arches as an extension of the wheels, so we would think it had big wheels. I wonder what it would look like with black wheels.

    2. I’m quite prepared to be wrong about this, but my reading of the black trim around the wheelarches is that it’s something of a visual nod to the 205 GTi – perhaps in a similar manner to how the vent treatment on the latest Audi A1’s bonnet is intended to reference the Sport Quattro.

    3. Just imagine the wheelarches weren’t black but body colour. The area of painted metal between wheelarch and bonnet would be enourmous and would make the car look fat. Not it’s looking as if it would ride on stilts but that’s acceptable today.
      They’re probably trying the same trick as Audi did with the A2’s separate wheelarches or Ford did with the ‘slashes’ in the Focus Mk1’s wings.

  6. yes, it might just be the boy racer in me, but if I squint,
    I can almost see big wheels with fat tyres. black wheels
    would be the go. all pretty sad really when the collective
    response to a new Pug is “well, could be worse…”

  7. Ah, that looks better, and the rear three-quarter view means you can’t see the big gob and fangs on the front. Hopefully, the first facelift will see a more appropriate front end design.

  8. Rear doors lack visual length.

    The sizing and positioning of the door handles is abysmal.

    It would be a very coherent design, if those handles weren’t that big, almost as if borrowed off an imaginary 708.

    The end result is a car that simply begs to be bought in a 3-door version.

    Which (hold your beers) won’t
    be available.

    1. Al: spot-on and well-called. I had not seen the door problem. There was a lot to take in. The big handles might be ergonomically effective?
      And yes, there will be no three-door. That thought occurred to me as I walked down the road today and saw a three-door 206. Was there a three door version of the 208? Yes. Au revoir!

    2. Hi Al,

      You’re not far off, I’am pretty sure the handles are lifted from the new 508.

    3. Yes the rear doors look very small, it’s especially obvious when compared to the new Clio as per the picture below. I think it may have to do with the fact that it’s built also an an electric car from the get go, it might be the result of a compromise or money-saving scheme to do with the electric powertrains sharing the same platform as the petrol engine versions.

    1. I can only agree for the interior, what a mess it looks in photographs.

  9. Peugeot often use a design detail from the very recent past. Can you guess which detail, that is not lifted from the 205, appear on this 208 ? Personally I think it doesn’t go well with the rest…..

    1. No, it’s the lower air intake on the front bumper…..inspired by the facelifted RCZ. An odd choice, first because most people hated the RCZ facelift and here on the 208 I think it clashes with the vertical fangs and all the other lines in that area. the shape of the air intake reminds me of this emoji: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  10. Judged in isolation, I think this is a relatively well proportioned small car with a distinguishable-enough character. (Despite the problems that come with fitting two doors either side on this super short wheelbase, chief of them very short rear doors and a far forward B-pillar that I have found to dangerously obstruct the view of the driver.)

    However, cars aren’t judged in isolation. This is a Peugeot 208 and as such I find it disappointing. Taking the badge off, could you tell it was a Peugeot? I’m not sure I could. Car manufacturers are liked for all the intangibles they bring with them, the heritage, the story, fostering the core of the brand identity should be among the top priorities when designing a new car.

    Which of course is not to say, that a cars look shouldn’t change over the generations. The visual jump from the 205 to the 206 was huge! But the 206 was still very obviously a Peugoet 20x. In comparison, I think this car is a failure.

  11. I have to say that I quite liked this 208 on first sight. It seems to carry a lot of 205 genes (optically) and also fits in well with the 308 without looking too similar. The rear is quite striking – simple and well-proportioned. It’s a real pity that the couldn’t repeat that pattern for the front. I hated this kind of ‘fangs’ since they first appeared on the DS 3.

    The large features like door handles and wheelarches are a bit overwhelming, yes. The whole appearance reminds me of a puppy with its too large paws. Maybe this effect was intended.

    The rear interior shot is really quite shocking. The seat contour shows where the door edge actually should be. I don’t think that the wheelbase is generally too short for four doors, but with the tendency towards large wheels, thick pillars and bulky wheelarches, less and less space remains.

    1. Admittedly he is Dutch and therefore very tall but notice on the GIF how he has to arch his lower back to get in. Quite an unusual and not at all “organic” way of entering a car 😀

  12. Hi Simon, I agree with you regarding the restricted rear door opening, which is even worse than on the outgoing model:

    Those oversized wheel arches are definitely the culprit here.

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