Erin Baker, Editorial Director at Auto-Trader, checked out Peugeot's freshest eco-friendly offering - and it didn't disappoint
Possibly Marie Claire’s car of 2020, even though we’re only half way through the year. The dinky little Peugeot ticks every conceivable box: electric, fantastic looks, amazing tech, small enough to park easily, great colours and comfy to drive. Underneath the skin, it’s the same as the Vauxhall e-Corsa, but it just shows you how important cool design, interior styling and features are.
It’s an ouchy £29,965 after the £3,000 Government grant for electric cars, making this one very expensive small hatchback in the truly mesmerising GT spec we had. But. As we wrote in the Vauxhall e-Corsa review, which shares the same architecture with this car, you need to look beyond purchase price to monthly finance deal and running costs to figure out just how expensive or not every electric car really is.
For example, the e-208 may cost you about £50 more a month on a finance plan than a petrol equivalent, but Peugeot is currently offering a free wallbox for home charging (normally about £500) and a six-month free charging subscription, and there’s no road tax or Benefit in Kind tax to pay if you’re a business user. It will also cost you about 4p per mile as opposed to 8p per mile to charge and run, especially if you are on a low energy tariff with your electricity provider.
Full marks here. We really haven’t seen such a beautifully penned car, inside and out, since, well, possibly ever. Outside, the e-208 shares the same styling as the petrol and diesel version, apart from a metallic “e” badge on etc rear flank signalling the electric powertrain. The look is sporty, chunky and vibrant, with cool vertical LED lights front and rear, low sills, a black horizontal bar at the back and contemporary badging.
Inside, our GT-trim car had fabric seats with pale grey fabric inserts, lined with lime green and electric blue stitching. We also had lime green, thin LED bars for ambient lighting.
You’ve got to take a test drive to experience this. It’s a total, jaw-dropping game changer. We have driven 99.9 per cent of the new cars on the UK’s roads today, and we’ve never seen anything like what the Peugeot offers. The driver’s digital display has an amazing 3D effect – essentially one layer of glass sits raised above another, with both screens displaying different overlaying images, which twirl and pirouette like some sort of digital origami. The graphics are in different colours, and range from ultra thin dials that swing round to show speed, to large sections of glass that colour in shaded areas, as the dial moves. You can summon up a moving image of the car that shows whether you are expending or recouping energy, or watch the satnav arrow appear suspended above the map below. It’s beautiful, original, intuitive and imaginative, and worth buying the car for.
It’s extremely comfy to drive, because the driver’s digital display sits above the steering wheel, which makes perfect sense – your eyes don’t have so far to travel down from the road ahead. And the steering wheel has a flat bottom and top, so you can slide your knees under and rest your hand on top.
It also feels wide inside, with plenty of space for two adults and two children, although my 6ft2in partner had his knees round his shoulders, but he’s ridiculously large. There’s room in the boot for a dog if you remove the parcel shelf, or a decent amount of shopping bags.
The 50kWh battery has a power output equivalent to 136 horsepower and accelerates from 0-60mph in 8.1 seconds but feels considerably faster thanks to the immediacy of the power delivery. Like with the e-Corsa, you can choose eco, normal or sport modes – eco is pretty dull but saves you some energy, while sport feels very, very quick but you can watch the range go down. Speaking of which, Peugeot says the car should be good for 217 miles, but as usual, that will depend on whether you’v got the heated seats, lights, windscreen wiper and radio on, and whether you have a heavy right foot.
It charges in 7.5 hours on a domestic wallbox – we plugged it in when we went to bed twice a week and thought no more about it.