Beneath the plastic bag shrouds and dazzle camouflage is Peugeot’s new compact crossover, which is codenamed P24. However, to you and me it’s the forthcoming 2008, due to hit UK showrooms sometime in 2020.
Aiming to build on the success of the brand’s larger 3008 and 5008 SUV models, the 2008 has gone fairly radical and adopted the latest CMP architecture. Not only does this mean more safety and space, it allows Peugeot to offer a pure electric version, which is what we drive here - albeit in pre-production guise.
Obviously the garish paint job means we can’t judge the looks (although Peugeot has now revealed the finished article), but it is possible to see the new 2008 is a bigger car than it’s predecessor. Yet while it’s longer and wider than before, it’s also 20mm lower, creating a sportier, more purposeful stance, bagged-up exterior notwithstanding.
Designed from the outset to accommodate EV running gear it uses compact battery packs that are housed in areas that would be home to the exhaust system and the fuel tank of the internal combustion engined versions. This is linked to a 100kW (134bhp) electric motor that drives the front wheels through a single speed gearbox. Peugeot claims that this delivers a WLTP assessed range of 196 miles, which is well short of rivals such as the Kia e-Niro and Hyundai Kona Electric.
Anything else? Well, there will also be internal combustion engines, in the form of turbocharged 1.2-litre (99bhp or 128bhp) and 1.6-litre (153bhp) petrols, plus a 1.6-litre diesel with either 99bhp or 128bhp. Gearbox choice will between six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic. We were given turn behind the wheel of the most powerful versions of the diesel and 1.2-litre petrol, but with suspension and NVH settings far from being signed off (each was essentially running DS 3 Crossback calibration) there was little meaningful to be gained. The EV on the other hand was much closer to production specification.
We were only given a few laps of a short loop on Peugeot’s La Ferté-Vidame test track 80 miles or so out of Paris, but it was enough to give us a fair impression of what to expect. To add interest, Peugeot had also brought along a Volkswagen e-Golf and a Hyundai Kona Electric for comparison.
Moving off is as simple as you’d expect from an electric car - prod the ignition switch, push the button marked ‘D’ and away you go, accompanied by the very slightest of whirrs. The first big surprise is that Peugeot doesn’t have the instant and muscular low down punch you expect from an electric motor. The 136bhp motor delivers brisk rather than truly quick acceleration, the 2008 feeling far less responsive than the assembled rivals, even with its Sport mode dialled in. Yet it’s impressively refined, with wind and road noise well suppressed, even as the Peugeot tops 100mph. The more powerful regenerative brake function is effective too, slowing the car strongly enough that the brake pedal needn’t be used most of the time.