September 16, 2020 4:41:14 PM
Gone are the days when small electric cars came with tiny electric ranges. It used to be accepted that you should buy a small EV for urban life, with a petrol or diesel model for those longer journeys.
However, battery technology has advanced to the point where we have this Peugeot e-208 – a supermini with a 217-mile range. In theory, then, it would take a pretty serious road trip to drain the battery, so let’s get behind the wheel to see if this compact car is all you could ever need.
Peugeot works on the theory that buyers don’t want separate electric models, so instead it builds its existing models with the ability to fit a battery pack and electric motor. That means there’s nothing truly bespoke here, getting the same cool styling inside and out as petrol and diesel models.
However, because of the weight of the batteries, the e-208 does have some suspension tweaks to improve handling, because the standard kit wouldn’t be up to the job.
The e-208 gets a 136bhp electric motor, which is fed by a 50kWh battery that’s responsible for that impressive 217-mile range. Many buyers are concerned about how their battery degrades over time, so Peugeot offers an eight-year or 100,000-mile guarantee on its batteries, and will test it at every service to see how much capacity has reduced.
Acceleration is unsurprisingly brisk – those are impressive performance figures for what is a small (though admittedly quite heavy) car. With a 0-60mph time of about eight seconds, it’s in the ballpark of small hot hatches, and it certainly feels that way. Around town that responsiveness is welcome too, making urban driving a breeze.
Those short, sharp bursts of acceleration are great fun, but there’s a lot more to this supermini than that. In built up areas where that performance is irrelevant, it presents itself as a delightful way to dart through traffic, while the silent motors mean it’s always relaxing.
It’s surprisingly good on the motorway, too, with the extra weight of the batteries likely contributing to it being more composed at high speed. However, that does also mean that on a twisty road, you feel the extra weight, making it slightly less agile than its internal combustion engine-powered equivalents.
There’s no denying Peugeot’s styling is fantastic at the moment. Everything the firm makes has chic character that its rivals can only dream of, even when it comes to traditionally dull segments like MPVs.
This is especially true of the 208, which has a premium look that stands out from the crowd, particularly thanks to the ‘three-claw’ headlight design up front, LED lights all around, and that sleek black bar across the rear. It also does little to shout about being an EV, with a small, simple ‘e’ logo beside the badging at the back.
Again, the design and execution is largely fantastic. The interior is full of funky angles that make it a genuinely interesting place to be, but this isn’t at the sacrifice of high quality materials.
It does suffer from the usual Peugeot driving position problem, where the wheel has been designed to look over at the instrument binnacle, but for many people the top of the rim blocks your view, so it’s tough to even know how fast you’re going. It’s a shame, because the 3D i-Cockpit is a brilliant bit of design that’s fun yet informative to look at.
The e-208 is available with six different trim levels, which means there’s plenty of variety depending on your budget – though with the entry level Active trim starting at £29,025 and the top-spec GT model starting at £33,275, the high-spec models feel like better value, especially when the difference is only about £20 per month on finance. (All prices here are before the government’s plug-in car grant.)
Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, a seven-inch touchscreen, LED daytime running lights and air conditioning, while the top-spec GT trim gets 17-inch wheels, a 10-inch touchscreen, satellite navigation, and adaptive cruise control.
Our test car had the mid-spec Allure trim, which felt well-equipped and left us wanting for nothing. Prices start at £30,225 and include 17-inch wheels in a different design to the GT, the cool 3D i-Cockpit, wireless phone charging and automatic air conditioning.
The Peugeot e-208 is a fantastic supermini, offering style and a fun driving experience in equal measure. With its 217-mile range and well-mannered motorway character, it’s genuinely capable of being used on longer journeys.
Its size means it’s not the most practical car in the world, but if you’re looking for a car in this segment – even if you hadn’t originally been considering an electric vehicle – the e-208 should be high on your shopping list.