The Peugeot e-208 looks great on the outside, it has a stylish interior, it’s excellent to drive, and it has zero tailpipe emissions. What’s not to like?
The Peugeot 208 used to be the 205, then the 206, then the 207. When it was the 205, it was widely regarded as a fun car to drive. However this fun character was generally acknowledged to disappear as it evolved into the 206 and 207 models. But we’re pleased to announce that fun is back with the latest 208, and the e-208 offers zero emissions as well as fun.
Based on the comments about the two Peugeot 208 press cars that we’ve had, lots of people seem to love how it looks (and we agree). And then there’s the interior. It’s all very modern and stylish, but is mainly characterised by two things: firstly, the very small steering wheel, which you look over, and not through, to see, secondly, the three dimensional instrument display. Information that is more important appears closer to you than the other information in the display. It looks so cool that you wonder why no-one has thought to do it before.
The e-208 is a five-seater supermini; it can fit two adults, three kids and a dog in the boot, but if you need more space, you might have to consider the slightly larger e-2008 SUV which is due in the UK soon.
Underneath all of the stylish design is the same front-wheel drive platform as the Vauxhall Corsa-e, the DS 3 Crossback e-tense and the Peugeot e-2008. That means a 50kWh lithium-ion battery in the floor and a 100kW electric motor.
As we’ve just estabished, the platform is the same under the Peugeot e-208 and the Vauxhall Corsa-e. So you’d think that both are exactly the same to drive. Right? Wrong! Why is this? Well, there’s some sort of witchcraft going on here, and so we’re going to try to get to the bottom of it.
So what’s difference between the two cars? The main thing is the very small steering wheel in the Peugeot e-208, the aim of which is presumably to steal the phrase ‘go-kart handling’ from MINI’s PR department. And it’s a very successful effort. The main interaction between driver and road is through the steering, and the small wheel does make the 208 fun to drive. Then you have the 208’s ‘i-Cockpit’, with its 3D instrument display, which adds to the sense of fun. The small steering wheel and the dashboard are two of the main items of differentiation between the e-208 and the Corsa-e, and they seem to transform the pleasant, easy to drive electric car with the Vauxhall badge to the car with the Peugeot badge being massive fun to drive.
But it doesn’t end there. Both cars have an electric powertrain that delivers instant, linear acceleration, especially in Sport mode (there’s also Normal and Eco drive modes). You can also increase brake regeneration by selecting B rather than D. The ride quality is excellent (probably help by the lack of large alloy wheels on our e-208 test car), as is the handling, which is helped by the battery resulting in a low centre of gravity. And of course the driving experience is virtually silent, as well as being zero emission.
And there’s one other thing. A key factor in any driver’s car is the ability to get a good driving position. And you can do this with ease in the 208 – there’s lots of adjustment in the steering column and in the seat.
The weight of the car is an important influence in how it drives, and with a kerb weight of 1,455 kg, this isn’t as light as a petrol 208, but it is light compared to many other electric cars.
And in terms of the weights of the 208’s controls, these are also well-judged, and it feels like the whole car is well engineered: there are very few rattles and clunks when driving. It’s even quiet at motorway speeds, although there is some road noise on certain surfaces. You can also switch off the lane departure warning system and it stays off, which avoids the annoying LDW steering interventions.
So it’s all good. Are there any complaints? Well, the main buttons on the dashboard are all grouped together in two rows next to each other, and they face upwards rather than towards the driver. And when you press the buttons on the row at the back they don’t ‘click’ to confirm that your command has been actioned.
All the climate controls are also located on the touchscreen, which we don’t think is a great idea when you’re trying to adjust ventilation settings quickly when you’re driving.
But perhaps the worst thing about the car is trying to fix a child’s isofix car seat in the rear seats. You have to firstly unzip the material covering the connector in the seat, then fight your way through lots of foam to get the seat mechanism locked in place. This seems like a terrible idea compared to most other manufacturers’ systems where you simply just slide the seat connectors into two holes.
The Peugeot e-208 has an electric range of 217 miles (WLTP) (compared to the Corsa-e’s range of 209 miles). Our experience with real-world range was very similar to the Corsa-e – perhaps not surprising as they’re the same car underneath. The displayed range prediction varied between 155 miles and 180 miles, but the average was 167 miles – which was exactly the same as the Corsa-e that we tested.
Most people with an EV, that have off-street parking, are likely to charge an EV at home overnight, using a 7kW home charger. For a 0-100% charge, this will take 7 hours 30 minutes. A public 50 kW rapid charger will give a 15-80% charge in 45 minutes. A 100 kW charger takes just 30 minutes for a 15-80% charge.
The Corsa-e comes with a choice of 7.4 kW or 11 kW onboard chargers, however the e-208 just has the 7.4 kW charger.
The Peugeot e-208 is available in six trim levels: Active (£26,025), Active Premium (£26,675), Allure (as tested) (£27,225), Allure Premium (£27,875), GT Line (£28,925) and GT (£30,275) (all prices after the UK government plug-in car grant of £3,000).This means that the e-208 starts at £26,025, whereas the Corsa-e starts at £27,665 – so you can get an e-208 for £1,640 less than a Corsa-e.
Our test car, in Allure trim, had the options of metallic paint (£545) and the 10” capacitive colour touchscreen with Connected 3D Navigation including TomTom Live updates (£650).
The petrol 208 starts at £17,115 and tops out at £24,085. So the e-208 is more expensive to buy, but the running costs will be much lower than the petrol model.
The Peugeot e-208 is an excellent car. It does everything very well. It looks good on the outside, the interior is modern and stylish, it has responsive performance, a comfortable ride, good handling, and fun steering. And of course zero emissions.
So a key question is do you buy the e-208 or the Corsa-e? Well, the PSA Group, owners of the Peugeot, Citroen, DS and Vauxhall brands, believe that people who have traditionally bought a Vauxhall will go for the Corsa-e, and people who have traditionally bought a Peugeot will go for the e-208. But what about if you’ve never bought a Vauxhall or a Peugeot? If you want an easy-to-drive electric car with no potentially overwhelming interior technology, then go for the Corsa-e. If you want an electric car that is a joy to drive, and feels more special, then go for the e-208.
Small cars should be fun to drive, and the e-208 is definitely fun. And it has zero emissions. It may cost a bit more than the petrol 208, but if you charge the car at home, you’ll enjoy much cheaper running costs. The 208 also has a big car feel in terms of quality and refinement.
And how does the e-208 compare to other rivals? It’s around eight years newer than the Renault Zoe, and it shows in virtually all areas, and a key issue for us is that it has a much better driving position (you can’t lower the driver’s seat on the Zoe).
The MINI Electric is a close rival to the e-208 in terms of the driving experience, but bizarrely, the MINI Electric is only offered in three rather than five-door form, which makes the MINI much less practical.
The Peugeot e-208 is awarded a Green Car Guide rating of 10 out of 10.