Peugeot e-208 review: Small but mighty

(Pocket-lint) – Peugeot was one of the first out of the door with a compact electric car. Indeed, the Peugeot e-208 has been around since late 2019.

It’s one of a number of cars from the giant Stellantis group – which includes the likes of Citroen, Vauxhall, DS Automobiles, among others – sitting on the common modular platform (CMP for short), so this Peugeot’s electric credentials may sound very familiar to anyone researching small electric cars.

But there’s a little Peugeot magic in the mix to make the e-208 that little bit more attractive. Here’s how we think it stacks up.

Our quick take

The Peugeot e-208 offers an enticing compact hatch proposition, with eye-catching exterior design, a great interior, and performance that rounds out a great package. This is a better looking car than the Vauxhall Corsa-e, even if that model is a little cheaper, while both offer the same battery and motor.

The Peugeot e-208 offers reasonable range, seeing off the likes of the Honda e or the Mini Electric, with rapid charging giving the freedom for unencumbered longe- range driving. While the infotainment system could be a little more modern, it’s a shame that the eye-catching driver display is almost impossible to see through due to the steering wheel’s shape and position.

For many, the smaller stature of the Peugeot e-208 will make it a great electric car for the city or suburbs, if you can live with slightly limited rear seat space.

Peugeot e-208 review: Small but mighty

Peugeot e-208

For

  • Great looking design
  • Rapid charging
  • Decent range
Against

  • Driver display hard to see
  • Rear seat lacks space
  • Expensive

Design

For a long time, Peugeot’s smaller cars have been attractive – the 205 back in the day, the 206 with those vents in the bonnet – and now the 208. It’s a great looking compact hatchback, with a sporty stance.

Pocket-lintPeugeot e-208 photo 10

The electric model shares the design with the combustion model and there are four different trim levels: Active Premium, Allure Premium, GT, GT Premium. Both GT models benefit from 17-inch wheels and a black roof, while the electric versions all get black wheel arch trim.

There’s an ‘e’ logo on the C pillar to help you recognise what this car is, too, while the badge on the front gets a blue inlay to help highlight that it’s a little different. There’s also body coloured highlights on the front grille.

What’s perhaps surprising is that there’s not a huge price difference between the different trims, starting at £29k in the UK, and ranging up to just under £34k. It’s worth considering for those in the UK that the government plug-in car grant has been dwindling, so the lower trim levels qualify at the time of writing, while the upper trims don’t.

Pocket-lintPeugeot e-208 photo 17

What the Peugeot e-208 doesn’t do is give you anything really futuristic from the outside: there’s no hidden door handles or video camera wing mirrors like you might find on the Honda e, it’s a big dollop of conventionality here. And we’re just fine with that.

Interior

The interior of the Peugeot e-208 – in this GT trim, as reviewed – looks great. It’s a dark interior and as is typical in this class of car, the upper sections are finished in soft-touch materials, while the lower section is dominated by harder plastics.

Peugeot mixes it up a little, with some inlaid illumination, coloured stitching, and what appears to be a woven plastic material which looks a little like a carbonfibre weave  at first glance. That reinforces that sporty intent of this car and Peugeot pulls it off well.

What the e-208 lacks is the natural advantage of being designed to be electric first. That means it hangs onto a number of interior features from the combustion model, a physical “gear stick” (common to most of the Stellantis group cars) which could be replaced with a dial on that pronounced tunnel between to two front seats. Again, this comes back to whether you’re looking for something that’s conventional or a little more forward looking.

As with that stick, much of the switch gear in the interior of the e-208 is common across similar models, so anyone who has sat in the Corsa-e or Citroen e-C4 will recognise much of what’s on offer here.

Pocket-lintinterior photo 5

The pairing of a dark interior works pretty well with some of the glossy black finishes, which will need a wipe with a soft cloth to keep them looking good – as every spec of dust otheriwse shows.

As is often the case in smaller cars, things are perhaps a little awkward in the layout. The two central cupholders, for example, are pretty close to the driver’s arm position, and so a bit of a flex to retrieve your drink – and also something you’d have to reach around to access the parking brake switch and the drive mode selector switch.

There’s a generous run of switches across the e-208’s dash, with toggle style switches for some functions, and touch areas just adjacent for more control. It puts pretty much everything within reach – we especially like the option to turn the aircon completely off with ease – and has a Mini Electric look about it.

Pocket-lintinterior photo 4

Otherwise the seats are nicely comfortable, sculpted to give you a bit of support on those fast corners that the Peugeot e-208 feels comfortable when taking. There’s plenty of space up front to stretch out amply.

However, the rear seats don’t get a lot of legroom. Adults there will get enough headroom (based on this six foot reviewer), but there’s not a lot of space for the person in the middle.

The boot space comes in at 311 litres and there’s no where to store the charging cable, this just sits in its case in the back. But there’s enough space for the big shop to fit in here, or for a weekend’s worth of luggage.

Pocket-lintPeugeot e-208 photo 18

Comparing the combustion and electric models also isn’t immediately straight forward, as the entry-level Active Premium is a higher spec on EV models, including things like auto aircon and the same interior layout as higher models, while the petrol or diesel Active Premium is a little more basic.

Interior technology

There’s also a difference in the interior technology you get as you step through the trim levels. The Active Premium has a small 3.5-inch digital driver display, while the Allure Premium and above have a larger 3D effort which can be customised to show the information you want.

Pocket-lintinterior photo 6

We really like the idea this display, its 3D effect making it appear slightly holographic, with layers of information adding a premium sense of sophistication. You can change it with a quick roll of the selector on the steering wheel too.

There’s a big problem however: it’s almost impossible to see. Thanks to the shape of the steering wheel and the positioning of the display, we just couldn’t find a position where we could comfortably see it. We tried jacking the seat up all the way – at which point our legs hit the bottom of the steering wheel. Sit lower and the top of the steering wheel is right in the way. We can see that a heads-up display (HUD) would be an answer instead – but alas, that’s an option this car doesn’t offer.

One of the additions that GT Premium trim brings is adaptive cruise control and lane positioning. It’s probably the only reason you’d choose GT Premium over the GT trim. The control stalk for this cruise control is rather hidden from view, but you’ll soon figure out which buttons to press.

Moving along, the centre infotainment display also comes in two guises: 7-inch on the Active Premium, 10-inch on the GT and GT Premium. This is virtually identical those other cars we’ve mentioned – Citroen, Vauxhall – and it’s simple enough to use, covering off the mainstays of music, navigation, climate control and phone handling.

The system supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay via cable, but confusingly only via the USB-A (the big one) on the right-hand side. The left-hand USB-C only supports charging. And there’s no wireless option.

Navigation from the native system is generally good, but location finding isn’t as freeform as you’d get from Google. It will return businesses on searching, but we found it a little hit and miss. The map offers points of interest (POI) for everything under the sun – we found it had petrol stations on by default – but a quick dig in the menu will let you switch those off and select electric car charging locations instead.

There’s a voice control system activated by the button on the steering wheel, but we’d advise against using it – it’s just not worth the frustration.

On the road

The great thing about the Peugeot e-208 is that there’s just one electric powertrain. That gives you a 100kW motor (136hp), a 50kWh battery, and front-wheel drive, regardless of what trim you choose.

Pocket-lintPeugeot e-208 photo 28

The Peugeot e-208 supports 100kW rapid charging, which will get you up to 80 per cent charge in 30 minutes. The more common 50kW rapid chargers will do the same in 53 minutes, while a full charge at home on a 7.4kW charger would take about 7.5 hours.

Turning to the range, Peugeot cites a range of 225 miles. Achieving this range will depend on a number of factors, including how you drive, the type of driving and the weather. The long-range average for our test model was 3.2miles per kWh, which would equate to about 160 miles all in all.

However, this was from driving in cold conditions with plenty of motorway use and in warmer conditions in careful driving we managed to get a return of 4.7 miles per kWh, which would be more like 235 miles. That 225 mile range isn’t too outrageous given those real-world results.

Pocket-lintPeugeot e-208 photo 21

As is the case with all electric cars, the Peugeot e-208 is quiet and wonderfully smooth, fast to pull away with a 0-60mph time of 7.8 seconds. That’s not hugely fast, but it’s the immediate delivery of that power off the line that you feel.

Combined with the compact dimensions, suspension on the firm side, and the hatchback statue, the e-208 is a blast to drive on good roads, avoiding the wallow of some larger crossover types. A hot hatch? Not quite, but we can see how a GTI or PSE version of the e-208 would have appeal.

There are two options for drive on the e-208 – D (drive) or B (battery) – with the latter offering stronger lift-off regeneration. This makes more sense in stop-start driving, giving you the best return of energy when you slow down. This is paired with three driving modes – eco, normal, sport – doing exactly what you’d expect. Eco dulls the throttle to force more economical driving, while sport lets the leash out giving more immediate power.

To recap

A good-looking compact hatchback with plenty of appeal for those wanting a smaller electric car. It offers good performance and range, plus rapid charging. However, the rear seat is a little small and while the interior is generally interesting and of decent quality, you might stuggle to see the driver display through the top of the steering wheel. On the whole it’s a great little car, though, so long as you’re not looking for anything larger and more accommodating.

Writing by Chris Hall. Editing by Mike Lowe.

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