8 years or 100,000 miles
It's getting harder and harder to resist the draw of full-electric vehicles. Most of them seem to be SUVs these days but here's a Zero Emission supermini, the updated version of Peugeot's E-208. It now looks snappier, has gained 15% more power and does a longer 248 miles between charges, has no practicality downsides over the combustion-engined version and comes with monthly payment finance you could justify. What's not to like?
In the future, all small cars will need to be developed on platforms that can support full-electric as well as conventional thermic propulsion. Surprisingly, few currently are but the Peugeot 208 is an exception. The brand wants you to pick a powertrain for this model (petrol, diesel or electric) in the same way you'd select a trim option - and it's the improved version of the battery-powered variant, the E-208, that we look at here. First launched in 2019, the E-208 shares all the same engineering we've already also seen in the Stellantis Group's two other small car battery-powered products, the Vauxhall Corsa Electric and the DS 3 E-TENSE, a pair of designs that share this Peugeot's sophisticated CMP ('Common Modular Platform'). And those same underpinnings allow for a new generation of 'big car'-style camera safety systems. It all sounds promising. Here, we're looking at the mid-term facelift applied to this car, announced in Summer 2023. There's an upgraded EV powertrain and smarter looks across the range. Plenty to talk about.
In this improved E-208, a new slightly larger-capacity 51kWh lithium-ion battery (48.1kWh usable) is mated to a new 154bhp electric motor (up from 136bhp before), which works through the usual single-speed auto transmission you get with EVs. Like all electric vehicles, this one develops all of its torque at once (there's still 260Nm of it) and this car simply hurls itself away from rest (it takes just a couple of seconds to crest the 30mph mark and 62mph is reached in only 8.1s), disguising the fact that (also like all EVs) this Zero Emissions variant has a bit of a weight problem - that drivetrain adds over 300kgs of bulk. Still, it does now take this car up to 248 miles between charges (up from 225 miles before). For a limited period, Peugeot is also continuing to offer the old EV drivetrain, which sees a 50kWh battery matched to a 136hp electric motor, offering a range of 225 miles. Whichever variant you select, all of this might represent a brave new world for forward-thinking supermini buyers looking to make the (still rather expensive) switch into all-electric motoring. It seems like only yesterday, after all, that a fully-charged small EV could only manage around half the kind of range you get from this one. Of course, you certainly won't achieve anything like that kind of operating capability if you get anywhere near this EV's quoted 93mph top speed. Or if you habitually drive your E-208 in the 'Sport' setting that'll be necessary to release to full 156bhp power output just mentioned. The quoted range figure will only be distantly possible if you instead engage a somewhat restrictive 'Eco' mode that drops power output right down to 83bhp. That's the setting you'll use in an E-208 around town, an environment in which it makes a strange polyphonic sound at low speeds to warn unwary pedestrians of its impending approach. Above 18mph, all you can hear is a bit of tyre roar from the eco-moulded Michelin rubber.
The changes made to the facelifted version of this E-208 aren't major, but they do bring the look of this supermini into line with latest versions of the 2008 and 508. There's a bolder version of the car's distinctive three-fang daytime running light signature. Along with a broader front grille. At the back, the tail lamp bar has been revised with a trio of red 'claws' extending the width of the tailgate. As before a the front, there's a large, intricately detailed grille with triple white LED headlights. As before, the all-electric E-208 is distinguished from what Peugeot calls 'thermic'-powered models by the adoption of body colouring for the front grille and a more unusual 'Dichroic' finish for the lion badge that appears to change colour, depending on your viewing angle. Most versions of this model will be ordered in either 'GT' or top 'GT Premium'-spec, these two top variants recognisable by 'diamond black' roof colouring and glossy black wheel arch flares, which streamline the body, making the wheel diameter of the 17-inch wheel rims appear larger. On these plusher versions, those rims are adorned with screw-in customisable inserts which improve the aerodynamics and apparently reduce kerb weight by 3.6kgs. Inside, not too much has changed. There's a redesigned gearstick. And the big 10-inch centre screen that was previously reserved for top-spec models is now standardised across the range (though it gains a high-definition panel in pricier 'Allure' and 'GT' variants). As before, this E-208 features Peugeot's 'i-Cockpit' design philosophy which sees you viewing the instrument screen over the top of the wheel rim, rather than conventionally through the wheel spokes. A continuing really nice cabin detail is the fold-down flap under the 'piano key'-style keys that decorate the centre console, concealing an area which can house your smartphone in several different ways while it charges - either inductively or via two charging points. And the area has an angled lip so that you can view your 'phone's screen while it's charging. What else? Well rear passenger space is slightly compromised by the need to place the powertrain's battery pack beneath that back seat. But there's no compromise in boot space, which is 311-litres in size just like any other 208.
Peugeot obviously thinks it's going to sell quite a few E-208s (the prediction is 20% of total model mix) because this powertrain is available with every trim level. Expect prices starting from just over £32,000. There are three main trim levels for the new 51kWh powertrain - 'Active', 'Allure' and 'GT'. The older 50kWh powertrain with its lesser electric motor and more restricted range comes only in a single 'E-Style' level of trim. A 10-inch central infotainment screen is now standard across the range with built-in 'Apple CarPlay'/'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring. 'Allure' and 'GT' models now come standard with the brand's 'Peugeot i-Connect' package, with the option to upgrade to 'i-Connect Advanced' which features live TomTom navigation and natural voice recognition. 'Allure'-spec gets you 16-inch 'Noma' diamond-cut alloy wheels, upgraded to 17-inch 'Yanaka' diamond-cut two-tone alloy rims on 'GT' versions. The 'GT' variants also get a 3D instrument screen, dynamic ambient lighting, 'Adamite Green' stitching across the dashboard and upholstery trimmed in black alcantara with 'Adamite Green' stitching. Customers will choose between seven body colours, two of which are freshly added - 'Agueda Yellow' and 'Selenium Grey'. the other colours are 'Cumulus Grey', 'Nera Black', 'Bianca White', 'Elixir Red' and 'Vertigo Blue'. All E-208 models feature gloss black door mirrors, irrespective of the colour chosen, and the 'GT' variants come as standard with gloss black wheel arches. As you'd expect, a wide range of driver assistance and safety technologies are available this time round. Go for the Hybrid or e-208 models and the adaptive cruise control system you can have has the ability to make the car automatically stop and go in heavy traffic. You can have this system with a manual gearbox too, where it operates down to 18mph. Lane departure warning, auto parking and blind spot monitoring systems are available too.
Peugeot's aim was for this EV to have a total ownership cost roughly equivalent to what you pay to buy and run an automatic version of the petrol model: well it's some way off that right at present. Its drivetrain claims to be state-of-the-art for a small car, though the 51kWh model's WLTP-certified range of 248 miles still isn't quite class-leading. The version with the older 50kWh powertrain manages 225 miles of range. Bear in mind that as with all EVs, the quoted range figure will drop considerably in winter weather or over long motorway journeys - in the case of the 51kWh E-208 to around 175 miles. If you're an E-208 owner, you'll need to know that getting anywhere near the quoted range figure will necessitate staying in the powertrain's provided 'Eco' mode - activating its 'Sport' mode setting will reduce your range by around 10%. A 7.4kW single-phase charger is supplied as standard on all E-208s, while a three-phase 11kW charger is available as an option. A 20-80% charge is estimated to take less than 25 minutes when using a 100kW rapid charger, extending to 4hrs and 40 minutes when using a 7.4kW charger. At the other extreme, if you happen to be somewhere you can only charge from a domestic supply using an ordinary 3-pin plug (and the optional 3-pin plug lead that costs extra with this car), the charging replenishment time would be a yawning 20 hours. As an E-208 buyer, your dealer will also give you the option to pay a subscription for a so-called 'Mobility Pass'. That'll enable you to borrow a conventional petrol or diesel-powered car from the brand for those times when you might need to undertake a longer or more complex journey - holiday times for instance.
So how successful has Peugeot been with this improved E-208 in terms of what it describes as "unboring the future"? Well, we think you'll be impressed. Other sector competitors can go a little further on a single charge, but we think that this model's improved operating range will now be quite sufficient for the average family's needs. There may be a few supermini buyers who don't like the cabin layout, want something better suited to cornering their door handles or who might prefer a premium brand - but we're guessing they'll be in the minority. Most will recognise that in this e-208, Peugeot has delivered an EV supermini you could really bond with. Glug, glug, glug, plug: bring it on.