► Peugeot electric e-208 driven
► The full CAR review
► Up to 217 miles of range
Most new electric cars are given bespoke designs to help them stand out on the road, which is ironic given that their near-silent powertrains make them naturally stealthy. A bank robber could never blend in with a cab-forward Jaguar i-Pace or glitzy Mercedes EQC as a getaway car, but they might have more luck with the Peugeot e-208 supermini.
You see, the electric 208 is deliberately as normal as possible. Just like its petrol and diesel siblings it’s called a 208, and you buy the EV version as an engine variant rather than as a model in its own right.
It even boasts the same handsome design as its combustion-engined siblings, and you’d need a keen eye to tell them apart in the flesh.
Click here to watch our Peugeot e-208 video walkaround
The shape of the 208 harks back to the 205 - this magazine’s ‘Car of the ‘80s’, no less - with its C-shaped glasshouse, almost identical rear pillar and light bar spanning the curved rear. Electric 208s get an ‘e’ symbol on the flank, a colour-shifting bonnet badge and body-coloured grille inserts. But nothing that screams ‘I am a zero-emissions vehicle!’ from the rooftops.
The e-208’s specs and range info
The e-208 features a 50kWh battery mounted under the floor, which means interior passenger space and boot volume (which is bigger than the Fiesta’s but less than the new Clio at 311 litres) are identical to what’s offered in petrol and diesel 208s. A front-mounted, 100kW electric motor (that’s 136bhp in old lingo) provides the drive.
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Regeneration – which we’ll get to later – is crucial to boost range, which has been homologated at 217 miles using the latest WLTP test cycle. Charging on a single-phase AC wallbox takes 7.5 hours, but the e-208 can handle 100kW DC rapid charging, which loads six miles into the pack every minute and has you moving again in 30 minutes.
The e-208 price list kicks off at £27,225 for the Active Premium model (a figure that includes the government’s £2500 subsidy), and standard kit includes 16-inch alloys, a seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus a basic automated emergency braking system.
The mid-range Allure Premium (from £28,525) is probably the one to go for, adding the beautiful 3D digital instrument panel for drivers, and a colour reversing camera. Aesthetes will prefer the £30,475 e-208 GT, bringing a 10-inch central touchscreen with connected navigation, upgraded emergency braking which works in the dark and can spot pedestrians and cyclists, plus black door mirror caps and wheelarches.
GT Premium is the top-of-the-range spec, adding adaptive cruise control with stop-go functionality, plus Alcantara and cloth seat trims inside. This costs from £31,375, which again is reached after the £2500 grant is knocked off the on-the-road price.
300 miles in the electric Peugeot e-208: from Land's End to Birmingham
What’s an electric Peugeot's interior like?
It’s familiar: there’s a curved transmission selector which you pull back for reverse, neutral or e-drive, and pull again to alter the regenerative braking feel. Like the standard 208, the steering wheel’s the size of a cotton reel, which despite its tiny stature can obscure the fancy 3D instrument binnacle with its varied depth, staggering layers of information. Obscurity won’t be an issue for drivers who drop the seat low and dump the wheel in their lap though.
It’s a high-quality environment, with a gloss black centre console, wireless charging pad behind a rotating flap that snaps shut with the crispness of a guardsman’s salute, and a delightful carbon-effect layer that twists its way across the dashboard.
What’s it like to drive?
Hatchback normality makes way for a completely ethereal experience, so long as you haven’t driven an electric car before. Press the throttle and the Peugeot e-208 accelerates briskly for its kind, though glacially compared with the warp speed thrust of a Tesla Model 3 or Jaguar i-Pace. In Sport mode, the e-208 sails from standstill to 62mph in 8.1sec – that’s half a second quicker than the punchiest 127bhp petrol version. The motor’s operating window limits top speed to 93mph.
It's all so serene: there's an absence of combustion chatter and tyre rumble is well suppressed on this smooth test track. The pillow-soft ride on 16-inch wheels intensifies this feeling of wellbeing, with this softly-sprung prototype rocking and rolling like a Liam Gallagher tour. There’s plenty of grip in corners, but the steering feels a little too light and at times inconsistently weighted as you push through a turn.
And then there are the brakes, always a tricky element to integrate in an electric car, with that blend from the initial deceleration caused by the motor switching to energy capture mode and the deployment of the good old-fashioned friction pads. The e-208 offers two levels of regenerative braking: imperceptible and barely perceptible.
Lift off the accelerator, and the Peugeot gently slows, as if coasting in a combustion car. In the more assertive setting, deceleration is slightly more pronounced, as is the whine of the motor. But if these braking modes were graded as cheese, they would be mozzarella and Edam.
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Unlike the stilton of the Nissan Leaf’s one-pedal action, which can respond to lift-off with the instant stopping power of smashing into a brick wall. The e-208’s brake pedal feels pretty baggy and buzzy too; it’s clearly an area for fine-tuning in future facelifts.
What about the e-208's price and battery warranty?
Peugeot will back its battery pack with an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty, and certify its capacity when you come to sell your used EV. It’s all part of a broad range of services, from an app that helps you remotely control charging, pre-heat the car or check its range.
Such features are a normal part of the electric driver’s life. And the e-208 is a conspicuously normal supermini. It doesn’t stand out like the Honda E, or wear its volts on its sleeve like the yellow-accented Mini Electric.
Those cars may find themselves stuck within the city limits, due to their puny, sub-150-mile ranges. The e-208 should feel equally at home in the city, with its compact package, peppy take-off from traffic lights and zero-emissions capability. But with its comfy, civilised air at motorway speeds and 200-odd miles of range, it won’t be stuck there. Just like a normal car.
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