What is it?
Peugeot’s entrant to the evolving electric car market, the Peugeot iOn. It’s effectively a re-badged Mitsubishi i-MiEV, which means a 66bhp electric motor, powered by lithium-ion batteries that can be fully recharged in seven hours from a standard 13-amp socket and gives the 3.5-metre long iOn city car a range of 93 miles.
What’s it like?
Actually very decent. Not in a ground-breaking way, but the iOn offers all the essential things you look for in a city car. It’s got a spacious but compact body, which might look like a Doctor Who prop but is actually very effective at weaving through traffic thanks to its narrow proportions and good visibility. Even the interior is of an acceptable standard by comparison to its conventional rivals.
Ride quality is good, with decent body control despite soft springs that soak up all but the worst of the road’s imperfections. Even the steering has an unexpectedly swift and sharp response. The electric motor is not the punchiest powertrain, but there’s enough poke to get it up to 30mph with a certain urgency, and it doesn’t feel out of its depth in free-flowing town traffic provided you’re willing to work the motor hard and compromise your range. In typically clogged rush-hour city traffic, its silent and progressive step-off is actually quite pleasant. Overall, it’s a huge departure from the likes of a G-Wiz, and oddly easy to like for all its challenging looks.
Should I buy one?
You can’t. Peugeot is only offering the iOn on a lease basis of £498 per month on a four-year (40,000 miles) contract, which includes all maintenance and servicing, after which you have the choice of continuing to run the vehicle for a further four years at a “reduced rate”. A full 8 year, 80,000 mile warranty covers the car for that duration.
But that’s still almost £24,000 after the initial four years, which would be a bizarre amount of money to pay for something as limited in its abilities as the iOn, even if you owned the car at the end of it. Peugeot claims that those in central London can save over £24,000 by running the iOn for those four years instead of a conventional car, but even so there are plenty of flaws in that theory.
The first is the existence of the Nissan Leaf, which may not be such a compact city car but still gets all the same electric car benefits whilst also being a much more grown-up and usable proposition. And you can own it for not much more than Peugeot is asking you to pay to lease the iOn. Beyond that, there is the unpredictability of electricity costs and London’s transport policies.
It’s clear to see what Peugeot is trying to achieve with its electric car. But even so, with these costs attached to it the iOn could run on fresh air and still be un-recommendable.
Price: £498 per month; Top speed: 81mph; 0-62mph: 15.9sec; Economy: na; Co2: 0g/km; Kerb weight: 1120kg; Engine type: Electric motor; Power: 66bhp at 2500-8000rpm; Torque: 133lb ft at 0-2500rpm; Gearbox: single-speed auto