Peugeot 208 GTI goes electric: why the next hot hatch will plug in

Published: 13 May 2020

► Secret new Peugeot e-208 ‘GTI’
► Our pocket rocket rendering
► All-electric hot hatch due 2021 

Electrification has crept up from the slow lane and has now firmly entered the mainstream – meaning a new generation of battery-powered halo cars are coming our way, including this proposed Peugeot e-208 Sport.

Bosses in Paris are adamant they can keep the sporting GTI flame alive, but add battery power to stymie emissions and the threat of crippling corporate fines if their CO2 emissions miss the tough new 95g/km EU target

In the new June 2020 issue of CAR magazine, Jean-Philippe Imparato, executive vice-president of Peugeot, admitted: ‘GTI is nonsense for me. There is one way to say it simply: Peugeot Sport. That means high performance, low emissions, new sensations. If I offer a B-segment performance car, it will be a full EV [electric vehicle] – that’s obvious. We will decide by the end of 2020, more or less.’

Our guide to the best electric cars on sale today

Peugeot Sport’s e-208 Sport: what to expect

Essentially, the performance version of the 208 will build on the existing e-208 that we’ve already driven, but add more grunt and more attitude in the design department. 

The PSA group electric car architecture is a good foundation for hot hatchbacks

At the e-208’s launch, project manager Rémi Seimpere said the 50kWh battery filled all the available space (above). That means extra shove will have to come from fitting a more powerful electric motor drawing from the same battery, sacrificing some of the regular e-208’s range.

Our sources suggest an uprated electric motor developing some 168bhp and driving the front wheels only; Peugeot Sport has decades of experience of tuning powerful FWD cars and the chassis will be upgraded accordingly, with more sporting suspension set-up and more athletic tyre profiles, although we suspect a limited slip differential may be overkill on this first electric hot hatch.

More upcoming electric cars revealed

Sign me up! When can I buy this electric Peugeot 208 GTI?

The board will be making a final decision on the sporting e-208 this year, ahead of a planned launch as early as 2021.

Bright green Kryptonite detailing accents bound for sportier electric Peugeots

Peugeot’s hot electric 208 will use plenty of green detailing in a colour named Kryptonite after Superman’s one weakness. The idea hasn’t been signed off yet, but boss Imparato and 208 project manager Guillaume Clerc want it to happen. The plan is for all Peugeot Sport cars to use the accent colour in their branding.

Why is Peugeot ditching regular petrol hot hatchbacks and backing EVs so wholeheartedly?

Pollutant-heavy performance cars wouldn’t help the PSA group’s image or its bank balance – if any brand is 1g/km of CO2 over the new average emissions limits, fines of more than €85 million (£75m) could be applied, hence the shift to electrification. Vauxhall is on board with PSA’s hot e-plans; boss Stephen Norman has previously hinted that the next Corsa VXR will be electrified, too.

The Peugeot Sport sub-brand will all be electrified. Plug-in hybrid, non-Sport versions of the 508, 3008 and 5008 are hitting dealers and it won’t be long until the first official Peugeot Sport car is revealed – the circa-300bhp, all-wheel-drive hybrid 508 Peugeot Sport. After the 208, Peugeot has to decide on a plan for the hot version of the next-generation 308.

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By Phil McNamara

Group editor, CAR magazine