It’s fun and futuristic – so surely it makes sense as an electric car?
The Peugeot 208 is a great little car. Reasonably practical for its size, the best built that Peugeot’s have ever been, featuring a futuristic dashboard and instrument panel that would shame a Lamborghini, sensible economy and an engaging and fun drive that works hard to make you think it’s a hot hatch – there isn’t really one in the range yet.
Then comes along the E-208. Out goes petrol power, and in slide a load of batteries, motor and a single speed transmission. The 50kWh battery gives it a claimed 217 mile range, the power is equivalent to 136bhp (making it the most potent in the line-up) and along with a torque figure of 221lb ft available virtually instantly, there’s an overall acceleration time of 8.1 seconds from rest to 62mph. That may not seem that sharp, but it’s the sensation off the line is sparkling.
Admittedly the E-208 is 300kg heavier at 1500kg (a lot for a small car) but it doesn’t necessarily feel it. The rear track is slightly wider by just 12mm, the only tell being the fractionally expanded back wheel arch surrounds compared to the fronts and there’s slightly less room under the boot floor (to accommodate the battery pack, so you get a tyre repair kit instead of a space-saver). However Peugeot claim the same 311 litre capacity as the petrol car, expandable to 1106 litres with the rear seats folded.
It’s also more expensive. This Allure spec car with the metallic Elixir Red and 10-inch touch-screen infotainment carries a £28k price tag. Generally the E-208 has a £5k premium over traditionally-powered equivalents.
As an electric car, it has a few neat improvements, the climate control is less draining on power, and the brakes rely on reverse polarity power regen to slow down, as well as, of course, typical callipers and discs. You feel that a little in the sensation from the brake pedal as as an initial lightness makes way for more significant heft lower in the travel.
That’s not to say the brakes aren’t good, or don’t reassure. They just take the tinniest bit of adapting to. As does the one-pedal drive system – a must to keep the regen working and your range usable around town. The car doesn’t quite come to a complete halt, you still have to slide your foot across to issue the stop command, but you can run quite a bit with just the right pedal.
It feels almost as lively and enthusiastic as the petrol car, and you’re always itching to switch it over to Sports mode. Especially as there is around a 30lb ft difference in torque available between the Eco, Normal and Sports modes. For full power you have to turn it right up. Doing so, of course drains the battery packs fast, and elicits dreaded range anxiety – which normal around-town driving hadn’t made a significant cause for concern.
And there’s the rub, compared to the petrol car, which I drove in Sports mostly. I want to keep the E-208 in Sports to fully exploit its potential performance, good grip and dynamics. But I worry about running out of juice. Admittedly charging is cheaper than refuelling, if more time consuming, and if you install a home charger and keep it plugged in on your drive, the E-208 is probably the one to go for. And for a 2008 that makes even more sense, seeing as it would be used mostly for family chores. But since I’d personally be eager to just take a 208 for a long enjoyable blast every now and then, the petrol version seems more appealing.
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