Why we ran it: To see whether Peugeot’s successful formula translates to a small SUV, in petrol then electric forms
Life with a Peugeot e-2008: Month 5
Handsome crossover had started to convince us in three-pot petrol form. Did the pricier electric version seal the deal? - 17 March 2021
What could – or, more pertinently, would – you buy with £6550? In a quick search of the online classifieds for that exact sum, I found a 1989 BMW 520i, a 2017 Seat Ibiza and a 2011 Nissan Leaf.
Those latter two are particularly relevant to my point, because £6550 is the difference between the 1.2-litre turbo petrol Peugeot 2008 that I ran last year and the electric Peugeot e-2008 that replaced it. I’d choose the Ibiza over the Leaf without a second’s hesitation, but which version of Peugeot’s new mid-sized SUV to take is a harder decision to make.
Before I dive in, though, I must point out some things. First, like many thousands of others whom the government and car makers would like to convert to emissions-free motoring, I’m far from the ideal EV owner. I can’t have a wallbox fitted at home, the nearest rapid charger is 18 miles away and the charger within walking distance of my flat is neither quick nor user-friendly. Thus I never got more than a 50% charge, so my real range figures are educated estimates. Second, I had the e-2008 during the winter freeze, affecting its battery. You can see those as issues of infrastructure and of EV themselves, but with EVs more than with any other type of car, personal circumstances are critical.
I am unashamed to admit that I’ve always in principle been a fan of EVs, thanks to their eco credentials, their strong and smooth acceleration and their unrivalled quietness. That feeling was strengthened by drives in the fantastic Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia e-Niro siblings when they came out in 2018, but the long-term realities highlighted by the e-2008 represented splashes of cold water.
Even so, I vastly preferred driving the e-2008 to the petrol 2008. Unlike its Korean rivals, the Peugeot EV isn’t hilariously eager; it has a sensible 134bhp. Yet torque is strong and, as from any electric motor, instantly available, meaning you really can pin yourself back if you floor it from rest; just not so much when you’re doing 50mph and fancy a snappy overtake.
All the while, it’s quiet and easy to drive, because you’re not forever operating a clutch and stick. Hiss heathen all you want, but really, what fun is there to be had from a numb manual gearbox in a family-focused crossover driving around a city? Engine noise (albeit not a tonally unpleasant one; I rather enjoy the growl of three-pots) and gearbox effort aside, the petrol 2008 just can never be as smooth in its operation.
You also feel the weight difference: the EV is 356kg heavier, meaning the ride in the petrol car feels less planted. The obvious flip side is that it’s far less reluctant to uproot itself when you turn the wheel; you really do sense the extra weight of the EV over the petrol when cornering. The elephant in the room – more like the mammoth, actually – is range. I averaged around 45mpg with the petrol 2008, giving it a range of around 430 miles – or almost four times that which I usually achieved in the much pricier e-2008. And that was despite my constant use of B mode, which strengthens the regenerative braking – something I preferred, not just did out of necessity, as it enabled me to drive largely using the accelerator only.