Peugeot e-208 hatchback
"The Peugeot e-208 is a mainstream electric car that offers 211 miles of range while looking just as stylish as the conventionally powered 208 models"
- Low running costs
- Stylish design
- Punchy performance
- Poor ride quality
- No cable storage
- ZOE’s greater range
While some manufacturers like Nissan and Renault believe electric cars should look a little different, Peugeot thinks choosing between petrol, diesel or electric should be as normal as choosing a trim level. That's why the fully electric Peugeot e-208 has been launched at the same time as the petrol and diesel models, and why it looks nearly identical. It's even listed in the same brochure.
The Peugeot 208 is a firm family favourite and a fully electric version of it is yet another indication that electric motoring is becoming increasingly mainstream. The only ways you'll be able to spot the difference are a blue lion badge, some body-coloured flashes on the grille and the e-208 badge - until you pull away in near silence, of course. While the Renault ZOE - the e-208’s main rival for now - has long been among the most attractive small EVs, the e-208 could is arguably even more stylish. It avoids the ungainly tall stance of many electric cars, and is one of the most sporty to look at as a result.
This theme continues inside the e-208, where the low-slung driving position faces digital '3D' instruments and a small steering wheel that looks like it's been borrowed from a racing car. There's a youthful appeal, backed up by soft, sophisticated materials inspired by successful models like the Peugeot 3008.
Under the bonnet, a 134bhp electric motor gives the e-208 a real turn of speed, and it feels even quicker than its official 0-62mph time of 8.1 seconds suggests. In Sport mode, it's noticeably more potent than the ZOE, which may have been tuned with more economical driving in mind. The e-208's 211-mile driving range is slightly less than the 245 miles the ZOE can manage. The e-208 does, however, offer faster 100kW charging than the ZOE, making it possible to add 100 miles of range in 20 minutes.
The Renault ZOE has had the small EV market wrapped up for a while but it faces stiff competition over the next few years. The Peugeot e-208 is its first stern test, and with stylish looks and an exuberant character, it's sure to win favour with some buyers. A poor ride and lack of cable storage mean it can't quite match the ZOE's polish, but many will be happy to overlook these small niggles.
MPG, running costs & CO2
The Peugeot e-208 is only available with one battery, namely a 50kWh unit that can deliver a driving range of up to 211 miles. On our test drive, we found a range of 200 miles is realistic in summer conditions, which should translate to around 150 miles in winter or on a high-speed motorway drive. That should be more than enough for most drivers, but the latest Renault ZOE does pip the e-208 with its range of up to 245 miles.
Peugeot wins back ground when it comes to charging, thanks to its 100kW rapid-charging capability - double that of the Renault. There aren't many 100kW public chargers in the UK yet, but find one and it'll add 100 miles of range in just 20 minutes. More common 50kW charging posts will do the same in 40 minutes, while a 7kW home wallbox can fully charge the e-208 in eight hours. The CCS and Type 2 charging ports are hidden behind a flap on the rear wing. It's worth noting a standard three-pin cable costs extra.
Road tax for EVs is free (a saving of £145 a year versus petrol or diesel), and Benefit-in-Kind taxation for company-car drivers has also been reduced to 0%, resulting in big potential savings. The Peugeot e-208 also qualifies for the maximum Plug-in Car grant of £3,500, which is taken off the purchase price of the car.
Engines, drive & performance
Unlike the ZOE that's offered with two power outputs, the Peugeot is availabl with just one 134bhp electric motor. It actually makes the e-208 the most powerful in the entire 208 range, and it feels very quick off the mark, accelerating from 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds. It's faster and more lively than the top-spec R135 ZOE, especially in its Sport driving mode.
We still find Peugeot's small steering wheel polarising, but there's no denying it makes the e-208 feel alert in town and on country lanes. In equal measure it can be less intuitive when manoeuvring. Back off the e-208's accelerator at speed and there's a mild braking force as the electric motor harnesses kinetic energy to top up the batteries. It's been programmed to feel as natural as possible to avoid putting off EV newcomers, but nudge the gearlever into 'B' mode and the regenerative braking force increases noticeably, so you won't have to use the brake pedal very often in routine driving.
Interior & comfort
The e-208’s interior is a real highlight, with a modern mixture of tactile materials and technology. A seven-inch infotainment display and digital instruments are standard, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility thrown in for good measure. A 10-inch version of the central screen comes with the GT model, bringing improved graphics and sat-nav with live traffic updates. The infotainment software can be confusing, but there's no arguing with the level of kit on offer, especially from Allure trim, which includes wireless smartphone charging and '3D' instruments.
One fly in the ointment is ride comfort; our first experience of a top GT model fitted with 17-inch alloy wheels exposed the car’s fairly restless ride. It settled down at higher speeds and proved relaxing on the motorway, but we'll need to try an e-208 on smaller wheels in the UK to reach a final verdict on comfort. There was a surprising amount of tyre noise too, but the electric powertrain still makes the e-208 a refined car compared with petrol rivals.
Practicality & boot space
The Peugeot 208 range has been built on a new supermini platform that was engineered to accommodate petrol, diesel and fully electric powertrains. Called the ‘Compact Modular Platform’ (CMP), it's shared with the Vauxhall Corsa-e and means that adding a 50kWh battery pack to the car doesn't cut into passenger or luggage space. Instead the batteries are distributed under the car floor and the rear seats, but, like the petrol 208, the Peugeot trades some interior space for its small and stylish dimensions. The boxier Volkswagen Polo has more space for tall passengers in the back.
Boot space measures 311 litres, which is about average for the supermini class. The ZOE can hold slightly more at 338 litres, partly thanks to its taller stance. There's also one big oversight, and that's a lack of a space dedicated to storing the charging cable or a space-saver spare wheel.
Reliability & safety
Peugeot has produced a string of five-star Euro NCAP cars, and with more safety kit than ever before in one of its superminis, we see no reason why the e-208 won't continue the trend. Driving aids take a notable step forwards, with features that help keep the car in its lane on the motorway, brake automatically in an emergency and monitor the driver for signs of drowsiness.
Reliability will take longer to judge because while there's theoretically much less to go wrong with an electric powertrain - and far less to maintain - this is Peugeot's first mainstream EV. Any issues are likely to be with teething problems and electrical gremlins.