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Peugeot e-208 review

Jim McGill takes a test drive in the unassuming Peugeot e-208 but this small car could be a big gamechanger.

The Peugeot e-208 hybrid

The Peugeot e-208 hybrid

Be aware, be very aware. The march of the electric car is continuing to build momentum. A recent report from the AA highlighted that drivers predict by 2030 there will be more electric cars than diesels in the UK. Having spoken to 12,977 drivers, they believe EVs will account for 19.8% of the cars on the road. In December 2019, they accounted for just 0.3%. So where will that growth come from?

Sure, range-topping EVs from the likes of Tesla, Jaguar, Audi and Mercedes often grab the headlines, but there’s no denying they are price-restrictive in terms of the average buyer. Thank goodness then for the likes of the Peugeot e-208.

The little Peugeot is among the mainstream batch of small cars that will help bring electric cars to the majority of drivers. But while rivals such as the Renault Zoe, Nissan Leaf and VW ID.3 are all built on bespoke platforms with deliberately different styling — designed specifically to stand out from their petrol-diesel rivals — the e-208 looks like … well, any other Peugeot 208 to be honest. And that’s certainly no bad thing.

Sure, there are the subtle pointers to the fact the e-208 is electric — there’s an ‘e’ symbol on the side, body-coloured grille inserts and a colour-shifting bonnet badge — but otherwise it shares the same eye-catching design of the rest of the range.

And that design is, indeed, currently one of the best on the roads. The designers at Peugeot have certainly got their mojo back, as can been seen elsewhere with the likes of the 2008, 3008 and even the 5008. But to my eyes, the 208 is the most attractive looking car in the French carmaker’s range. Squint just a tad, and from certain angles it evokes the brilliant 205 from the 80s.

Ok, so what about price, range and spec?

How much does it cost? Prices start at just £26,725 — including the government subsidy.

And what’s its range?

Peugeot say it’ll cover 217 miles on a single charge. Even the entry-level Active Premium model is pretty well equipped as standard, with a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a basic automated emergency braking system, and 16-inch alloys included.

Next up is the £28,025, mid-range Allure Premium. This is probably the one to go for, and which will be the main seller. This adds the impressive 3D digital instrument panel for drivers, plus a colour reversing camera.

And if looks are one of your primary factors in buying a car, and you can afford the extra £1,950, then the e-208 GT is the preferred choice. Ok, it’ll set you back £29,975, but it includes upgraded emergency braking which works in the dark and can spot pedestrians and cyclists, black door mirror caps and wheel arches, plus a 10-inch central touchscreen with connected navigation. Whisper it: it’s also the best looking in the range.

Want to know more about electric cars? Visit the Arnold Clark Innovation Centre.

Any more details on the battery and recharging?

Yup. Peugeot has cleverly tucked the water-cooled 50kWh battery pack below the floor. That means the cockpit space and boot space is, not surprisingly, given Peugeot has always intended the e-208 to mirror the rest of the 208 range, identical to that of the petrol and diesel models. Worth mentioning, the 311 litres of boot space is more than a Ford Fiesta, but less than the latest Renault Clio.

As for recharging, if you use a single-phase AC wall box it’ll take 7.5 hours. The e-208 has also been designed to accommodate 100kW DC rapid charging. Go down this route and you get six miles into the battery pack every minute, meaning you can be back on the move again in half an hour.

What’s it like to drive, and how quick is it?

Power is sent to the front wheels via a 100kW electric motor delivering the equivalent of 136bhp. In terms of performance, flick it in to Sport mode and it’ll cover 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds; that’s 0.5 seconds quicker than the fastest petrol 208. Top speed is restricted to 93mph.

As for driving? It’s serene, as you would expect of the majority of electric cars. The 16-inch wheels help cushion the ride and that, combined with a lack of tyre rumble and the normal petrol/diesel engine noise, ensures the cabin is a relaxed place to be.

Push the car into a corner, and you’re reassured by the high levels of grip. And while you might find the steering a tad too light and inconsistently weighted when you decide to push on, it’s important to stress this isn’t intended to be a car you hurl round corners on two wheels. Let’s keep it real.

For every day, normal driving, the steering is precise, well-balanced and light. All of which makes the e-208 a delight to scamper around town in, and a dawdle when it comes to slotting into tight city centre parking spaces.

I assume there’s a form of energy regeneration?

You’re correct. And it certainly helps maximise the e-208’s range. The Peugeot offers two levels of regenerative braking — and both are barely perceptible when they kick in.

Ease your right foot off the accelerator, and the e-208 slows gently, essentially mirroring the same feeling as coasting in a petrol-engine car. If the regen is set to the more aggressive set-up, then not surprisingly, the deceleration is slightly more noticeable.

It’s worth emphasising, that unlike the one-pedal action in the Leaf — which has the ability to test the efficiency of the seatbelts when you lift your foot from the pedal, such is the stopping force — both set-ups in the e-208 are very mild in terms of braking sensation.

Ok, enough tech: what about the cabin?

Thankfully, like the outside, it mirrors the interior of the rest of the ’normal’ 208 range; it’s excellent, and high-quality. There’s ample space front and rear, and both access and visibility are excellent.

There’s a gloss black centre console and an attractive carbon-effect layer that twists its way across the dashboard. There’s even a wireless charging pad behind a rotating flap.

Like all 208 models, the steering wheel’s titchy — amazing how quickly you get used to it’s ‘sporty’ feel — and behind it sits a clever 3D instrument binnacle with loads of information. Just to the driver’s left is a curved transmission selector, which is a dawdle to use. Pull it back for reverse, neutral or e-drive, then pull it again to alter the regenerative braking feel. Easy-peasy.

Oh, and there’s also an app which allows you to pre-heat the car, check its range or remotely control charging, all from the comfort of your favourite chair in front of the TV.

Anything else I should know?

Owners should be reassured by Peugeot’s eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty on the battery pack. When you come to sell your e-208, the carmaker will certify the battery’s capacity.

In assessing the importance of the e-208, the one thing which keeps coming back is the fact it looks, feels and drives like a normal car. It doesn’t blow its own trumpet to alert the world to the fact it’s an electric car. It just quietly and cleverly gets on with its job.

Perfectly at home scooting around town, with its 200-odd mile range it’s also a car which you could easily and happily use for longer journeys, even if your route takes in motorway driving.

The e-208? Just see it as a Peugeot 208, only this one is all-electric — it’s the way of the future.

Spec panel
Model Peugeot e-208
Price From £26,725
Engine 50kW battery, 100kW e-motor
Power 136bhp
Transmission Single-speed, front-wheel drive
Top speed 93mph / 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds
Range (WLTP) 217 miles
CO2 emissions 0g/km

About the Author

Jim McGill