+ Stylish design
+ Good EV range
+ Rapid charging makes EV ownership easier
- Lack of charging cable storage
- Infotainment system could be better
- Range drops notably on cold days
Verdict: The Peugeot e-208 will be many people’s first EV purchase, and it’s a solid choice. Not only does this little hatchback look great, but it drives well and offers charging tech on par with the best electric cars out there. Make no mistake, this hatchback is contending for class honours.
2021 Peugeot e-208 review: the five-minute read
So, you’re looking to go electric for the first time? You’re after a compact car with the same traits as the combustion model you’ve become used to and want as little compromise as possible when it comes to EV ownership. These demands are far from unreasonable and you are not alone. The good news is that cars such as the Peugeot e-208 tick many of those boxes.
Anyone familiar with the petrol or diesel Peugeot 208 will feel right at home with this EV because the French marque treats electric powertrains as effectively another engine option sat next to combustion. In short, the car is practically identical. It still has a stout stance, distinctive sabre tooth lighting signature, and pleasing premium details. In fact, park the e-208 next to a regular 208 and you’d be hard pushed to spot the difference. Some more aerodynamic alloy wheels and blue badging are your only real visual hint.
The same goes for the interior – no bad thing as the 208’s cabin is amongst the most interesting in the class. Peugeot’s i-Cockpit layout features cascading surfaces, glossy trim, and customisable mood lighting that all combine to elevate the perceived quality of the cabin. Short of a few hard plastics below knee height, the interior is full of premium materials.
All cars get a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, but you can upgrade to a large 10-inch unit. The software is a bit fussy, but the screen itself is responsive and compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Its rear bench is of the same dimensions as the regular 208, meaning that space for adults is adequate, but tall passengers may struggle for legroom. Boot space is a pleasing 311-litres, however, a lack of dedicated charging cable cubby means this takes up precious shopping bag space. Not a dealbreaker, but a little annoying.
What’s an electric 208 like to drive? Just like the styling, quite a lot like the regular car. Sure, in a back to back comparison you’ll feel that the battery model is heavier and maybe rides a little firmer, but it retains an agile feel and plentiful grip. The biggest change is the immediate response you get from a prod of the throttle. EVs don’t need to build their momentum like a combustion car, it’s effectively a light switch that provides rapid torque. While Peugeot has engineered the car to behave a lot like a conventional car – basically tempered its performance – its zippy nature is perfect for taking advantage of gaps at busy junctions.
The car’s quiet nature provides a relaxing means of commuting, and while its 17-inch alloy wheels do have a habit of thumping into potholes, on the motorway things smooth out. Speaking of commuting, its 217-mile range means that this is very much an EV where range anxiety is absent from most situations. That said, the cold weather does substantially dent the real-world range of this car with 140 miles being more realistic when chilly – still more than enough for most daily situations. The good news is that charging at 100kW is possible, meaning 100 miles added in just 20 minutes.
This Peugeot faces strong competition from the likes of Renault’s Zoe and Vauxhall Corsa E – the Zoe in particular due to its larger range. That said, a combination of battery range, great charging tech, and those chic looks makes the e-208 a rather desirable package.
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2021 Peugeot e-208 interior and infotainment
One of the big ways that this Peugeot e-208 stands out from the crowd is its interior. Designers have gone to a lot of trouble to make this space feel unique via Peugeot’s i-Cockpit ethos. Don’t speak Peugeot jargon? Well, i-Cockpit is basically a design language that incorporates a high dividing centre console, wrap-around dashboard and a small steering wheel with digital instrumentation sat above. It looks fantastic, although some tall drivers do struggle to get the steering wheel in a position that’s comfortable and doesn’t obscure the dials. The majority of people not of the gangly variety should be just fine thanks to ample adjustment.
Material quality is good with glossy finishes and customisable mood lighting giving off a trendy wine bar feel. It’s modern and interesting, but there remains a few scratchy plastics lower in the cabin. Everything feels rather durable – an important trait in a small family car – and overall this cabin simply feels a bit more special than the humdrum of rivals.
All cars get a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system complete with physical ‘piano’ shortcut keys that make operation on the move much easier. That said, the operating system is a bit clunky and could be less text-heavy. The good news is that it is compatible with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, not to mention a vast 10-inch widescreen display is also available.
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2021 Peugeot e-208 practicality and boot space
The Peugeot 208 was designed to have an electric variant from day one, meaning there’s very little compromise in terms of packaging. Interior space is identical to the petrol and diesel options, and so those up front have plenty of adjustment and some handy storage bins. However, like all Peugeots these days, the glovebox is only fit for actual gloves due to its fusebox location.
Space in the back is perfectly fine for children, but tall adults might find it a bit of a squeeze. Headroom is adequate enough, but those with long legs might find them brushing the seat ahead. As mentioned, this isn’t just a trait associated with the EV model.
Its boot measures 311-litres which is a little more than a conventional hatch such as the Ford Fiesta, but smaller than what you find in a Renault Zoe. In the real world, it’s a good square space that’s ideal for shopping and features a handy bag hook. There’s a bit of a load lip to overcome when lifting heavier items, but a bigger inconvenience is the lack of dedicated charging cable storage.
2021 Peugeot e-208 battery and motor
There’s only one powertrain option for the e-208, which keeps things nice and simple. All cars are powered by a single electric motor that generates 134bhp. There’s plenty of immediate torque, but engineers have programmed the car to have a sensible 0-62mph run of 8.1 seconds.
Its battery is 50kW and in ideal conditions grants an official range of 217-miles. From a standard 7kW home wallbox the e-208 takes about 7 and a half hours to charge, but 11kW charging is available as an option. As standard the e-208 can charge at 100kW, meaning that you can add 100 miles of range in just 20 minutes or go from 0-80% in around 30 minutes. For first time EV buyers, rapidly adding range will ease the transition.
It is also possible to charge the e-208 via a household three-pin socket, however, this is a rather sluggish method. If you’ve got a spare 21 hours you can get a full charge, but you’ll need to pay extra for the appropriate cable.
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2021 Peugeot e-208 driving
Hit the starter button to silently glide away in the e-208 with this car delivering on that zen-like electric feel. It’s a more relaxing environment without the continuous hum of an engine, and obviously an environmentally responsible one with no emissions. The rather effortless drive is further amplified by light steering, although your tranquillity is momentarily interrupted by those 17-inch alloy wheels thumping over road imperfections.
The e-208 is really in its element around town thanks to that instant torque its electric motor provides. This immediate ‘get-up-and-go’ is perfect for snatching an opportunity at a junction or overtaking a dawdler. The brake pedal is well-calibrated along with the regeneration system, meaning that it all feels very natural and not overly aggressive. In fact, that’s the overriding sense you get driving this Peugeot, it all feels very normal to anyone who’s used to conventional motoring.
This hatchback's compact proportions make it easy to park even without the standard parking sensors. Rear visibility is somewhat restricted, so our advice would be to step up to Allure Premium trim that comes with a reversing camera if staying within the lines is not your forte.
On faster-flowing roads the e-208 doesn’t offer the same engagement as something like a Ford Fiesta – its steering lacks feedback and you can feel the car’s weight at times – but that’s not to say it isn’t enjoyable. The car possesses a keen change of direction thanks to a short wheelbase and quick steering, and good body control resonates a sense of composure at speed. While the Peugeot will understeer if pushed too hard, there is a joy to thread it through tightening bends and using the electric motors to fire out of corners. In this situation, it’s very apparent that Sport Mode does make a tangible difference to throttle response and overall pace.
The Peugeot e-208 holds its own on the motorway, too. Sure, without the soundtrack of an engine you hear more wind and road noise, but it’ll pleasantly cruise along on your commute. It’s also got the guts for strong overtaking and enough range in the real world to keep this sort of high-speed stuff up for around 130 miles. Even if you did want to venture further afield, rapid charging can boost overall range by 100 miles in just 20 minutes, likely the same amount of time you’d spend taking a break on a lengthy motorway stint anyway.
We think there are very few scenarios where the e-208 couldn’t happily replace its combustion equivalent. Sure, it is pricier than a petrol or diesel model, but that’s the same across the board at this moment in time. As an approachable means of electric motoring for the uninitiated, it’s probably the best allrounder in the class.
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