What is it?
This isn’t as glib as it sounds. When building an electric car, many makers – Renault included, with the Renault Zoe – devise an entirely new product largely unrelated anything else in the brand’s line-up. Volkswagen is another example, because the Volkwagen ID3 bears very little resemblance to the VW Polo: neither aesthetically nor structurally.
The e-208 is different because it exists on the same modular platform as the regular Peugeot 208. It also uses the same body and interior as the regular 208, and will be assembled on the same production line. It gets a slightly wider rear axle to make space for the battery and there’s additional strengthening in the subframes, but by and large it’s the same car. Only electric.
Peugeot’s strategy is similarly straightforward. It wants the car's radical exterior design and imaginative cabin to get people into dealerships, where they'll then decide with powertrain best suits their habits. Most will go for a petrol Peugeot 208. Or, if they do big mileage, they might get the 70mpg 1.5-litre diesel. But if electric power works best, no big deal.
And on paper the e-208 looks reasonably impressive. For now there's a 50kWh lithium-ion battery, giving a WLTP range of 211 miles – enough, says Peugeot, for typical owners to get away with only one weekly charge, assuming they charge completely.
From a domestic socket, that takes a while: more than 20 hours. If you’ve installed a 7kW wallbox at home, the time drops to less than eight hours, though at its quickest the battery can charge from nothing to 80% capacity in just half an hour. This is because the e-208 is capable of drawing electricity at a rate of 100kW, and unlike Porsche, which charges extra for the swiftest charging option on the £140,000 Porsche Taycan, that’s true even for the most basic trim level.
Range and price being the most important factors for EV buyers, how does the e-208 compare to its classmates? It’s decently competitive. The new 52kWh Renault Zoe manages 245 miles and at £25,670 will cost near enough the same as the Peugeot, so does a little better on paper. In mid-range 58kWh trim, the ID3 also does better, managing 261 miles on the WLTP test, though it costs considerably more than either of the French cars.
Meanwhile the upcoming Honda e seems strangely lacking. It will cost just over £26,000 but has a quoted range of only 136 miles. And we shouldn’t forget the Vauxhall Corsa-e, which shares much of its hardware with the Peugeot, including the battery, chassis and motor. That arrives in April with a £26,790 price tag and a slightly shorter range of 205 miles.
All of a sudden, there are quite a few zero-emission superminis to choose from.