Thursday 14th November 2019
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First drive: Peugeot e-208. Image by Peugeot.

First drive: Peugeot e-208
Looks like a conventional supermini, is in fact an EV: just how good, or otherwise, is the Peugeot e-208?

 



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Peugeot e-208 GT

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

If you don't fancy any of the engines that we've already told you about in the striking new Peugeot 208, then you don't have to have any of them. Instead, you can opt for this pure electric version, called the e-208. Should you be adopting this zero-emissions machine, or simply sticking with a petrol Pug?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Peugeot e-208 GT
Pricing: 208 range from 16,250; e-208 from 25,050, GT from 29,650 (both prices including the 3,500 Government grant)
Engine: 100kW synchronous permanent magnet electric motor with 50kWh lithium-ion battery pack
Transmission: front-wheel drive, single-speed reduction gear
Body style: five-door electric hatchback
CO2 emissions: 0g/km (VED Band 0: 0 road tax requirement in perpetuity)
Official range: 211 miles (WLTP)
Top speed: 93mph
0-62mph: 8.1 seconds
Power: 136hp at 3,673-10,000rpm
Torque: 300Nm at 0-3,673rpm
Boot space: 311-1,106 litres

What's this?

The Peugeot e-208 has exactly the same three trim lines as the regular 208s, only it has another, bespoke-to-it specification at the top of the tree: GT. This basically chucks everything at the e-208, including fully automated parking, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Lane Positioning Assist, Blind-Spot Monitoring, grey Alcantara interior upholstery, and the 3D i-Cockpit with a ten-inch touchscreen for the Connected 3D Navigation/infotainment, on top of everything else that comes on the other models. That, coupled with its planet-saving motive power, means it's not cheap. Even with the 3,500 Government grant for electric cars factored in, it's as good as 30,000 as is. Yes, that's right. Thirty. Thousand. Pounds.

However, Peugeot claims that, due to its super-low running figures, its whole-life cost of ownership is the same as buying a 100hp PureTech petrol model for about 12,000 less, so perhaps this is the key model in the 208 line-up. Because it certainly looks the part. Peugeot has deliberately avoided making the e-208 wilfully different in the visuals department, as you'd find with rivals such as the Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe and BMW i3, and so what you have here is a car which looks as splendid as the regular 208 line-up. Save for a body-coloured chequered grille at the front, distinctive 17-inch alloys, a subtle 'e' monogram on the C-pillar, a 'dichroic' Lion emblem (it changes colours from different viewpoints) and the e-208 badge at the back, this is as crisp to behold as the combustion-powered models. Ditto the cabin, which is at its absolute best in here with a few extra electric-related displays and the same high-class air of finishing throughout.

How does it drive?

Hmm. There are a number of things potentially playing in the e-208's favour before we've even begun, if you're to purely look at the stats. Quite aside from all the worthy zero-emissions stuff and decent 211-mile range, courtesy of a rather large 50kWh battery that can nevertheless take 80 per cent of its charge in just 30 minutes on the right rapid connection, it's the torquiest and quickest 208 of all, with 300Nm on tap and a 0-62mph time of 8.1 seconds. This is why it's the one blessed with the 'GT' badging, which is Peugeot's warm-performance brand, instead of such an honour being conferred on the 130hp PureTech GT-Line.

But there's another stat you ought to consider, which is this: 1,455kg. That's what the e-208 weighs. Which basically means it's an utter bloater. The next model down the 'Tree of Heft' for the 208 family is that aforementioned 130hp petrol, which clocks in at 1,165kg; so the e-208 is lugging around an enormous 290 kilos of additional ballast. Compared to the lightest 208, the 75hp PureTech at 1,023kg, it's fully 42 per cent more hulking.

And it is this mass which translates into a curiously underwhelming driving experience in the e-208. Maybe it's the 'normalcy' of its EV proposition, but it simply doesn't feel special in terms of straight-line performance and go: light it up with all the battery charge in store and the car in Sport, and you won't go 'WOAH!' in surprise as the e-208 accelerates off up the road, you'll just go 'meh'. Sure, it has all the usual EV attributes, like silent running and the eerie drivetrain smoothness, but it doesn't come across as appreciably quicker than its more potent stablemates.

However, it's in the curves where the main dynamic damage is done. This is not a very enjoyable car to hustle about. The e-208 has the same feel-less steering as the regular cars, only now you're trying to corral nearly a tonne-and-a-half of car into a corner off the back of it. Turn-in is noticeably duller, there's less grip because the tyres are trying to contain more mass, and the body control doesn't seem as impressive, either.

But all of these are as nothing compared to the ride. It's way too firm. With the suspension toughened up to cope with the weight of the electric running gear, you experience too much of the road surface's topography through the secondary ride and the large jolts/compressions of the primary ride send shudders through the e-208's structure. In a city at low speeds, an EV's natural environment, the e-208 might get away with more and seem a worthwhile proposition, but we were left driving it on remote rural roads and it felt like a fish out of water. It's a good execution of an electric drivetrain in a normal, everyday vehicle, the e-208, but is it a great car? Regrettably not.

Verdict

The Peugeot e-208 has the same positives as its conventionally-powered brethren and it has the benefit of being extraordinarily cheap to run (it incurs no road tax, for example), as practical as its stablemates due to clever packaging of the motor and battery pack (which is under the back seat), and one which should keep the likes of Greta Thunberg & Co. happy when you're driving it down the High Street. But is it the best car in the new Peugeot 208 range? No; no, it isn't. It's too expensive to buy and too compromised to drive to be awarded that accolade. We'd recommend you stick with one of the PureTech models for the best 208 experience.

5 5 5 5 5 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

3 3 3 3 3 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

3 3 3 3 3 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 14 Oct 2019









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2019 Peugeot e-208 GT. Image by Peugeot.2019 Peugeot e-208 GT. Image by Peugeot.2019 Peugeot e-208 GT. Image by Peugeot.2019 Peugeot e-208 GT. Image by Peugeot.2019 Peugeot e-208 GT. Image by Peugeot.

2019 Peugeot e-208 GT. Image by Peugeot.2019 Peugeot e-208 GT. Image by Peugeot.2019 Peugeot e-208 GT. Image by Peugeot.2019 Peugeot e-208 GT. Image by Peugeot.2019 Peugeot e-208 GT. Image by Peugeot.








 

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