Review: Peugeot 208 and 2008 SUV

Electric power will replace petrol and diesel fuel and electric hybrids in all new cars by 2035. Don’t panic. You’ll be able to use your diesel or petrol cars beyond that date. That could be for the rest of your motoring life.

The Peugeot 2008 SUV
The Peugeot 2008 SUV

This month Peugeot releases its first all-electric cars in Britain. They are the e-208 hatchback and, later in the year, its bigger kin, the e-2008 SUV. They are the clean face of the all-new 208 and 2008 which also offer a choice of petrol and diesel engines.

Peugeot obligingly arranged a driving appraisal for these interesting and attractive new cars on the banks of the Thames in and around Henley. First, a hiccup. The electric 208 was not available so we had the choice of the 208 and 2008 with some of the conventional engines.

The start of the car drive was along the river at Shiplake, where the eco-conscious French Peugeot conglomerate (Citroën, Vauxhall, Opel are in its thrall) had hired an energy efficient property called Sereno, built as a home but also as a showcase for whatever you are showing. There were charging points for electric cars – no doubt a clincher for the demo of the no-show electric Peugeots.

The Peugeot 208 hatchback

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I am sure that, like all the electric cars, they will be enticing. They have a high torque 134bhp electric motor giving 0-60mph in 8.1 seconds. Their range on a full battery is 217 miles depending on how and where you drive. A full charge on a “fast” home system takes 7½ hours and using a “rapid” public system you can get an 80 per cent charge in 30 minutes. Prices start at £25,050 for the e-208 Active and at £28,150 for the e-2008 Active, after deduction of the £3,500 government grant.

However, for the time being most of us will be buying cars with petrol and diesel engines. Unless you have your own electric charging point at home or office then liquid fuels are much more practical. The public charging network needs expanding if more of us are to be lured into a spending spree. The nearest equivalent petrol 208 is £4,650 cheaper than the e-208 but lifetime costs will be higher.

The petrol engines are 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbos with 74, 99, 128 and 153bhp. The diesel is a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine with 99bhp. Only the petrol engine is offered with automatic gears. Model names are Active, Allure, GT Line and GT. In the 208 all but two emit less than 100g of CO2.

We tried the 128bhp petrol engine (badged as 130) with eight automatic gears in the 208 GT Line (from £23,350) and with six manual gears in the 2008 GT Line (from £26,100). The 208 recorded 38mpg on our run and the 2008 gave 36mpg. The terrain was gentle but never allowed the cars to get into their stride and the higher ratios in the two gearboxes were mostly superfluous. I’d expect improved consumption on longer journeys. Peugeot’s official figures are 46 to 52mpg and 103g for the 208 and 44 to 51mpg and 103g for the 2008.

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The cars were very pleasant to use on these short trips through the genteel Thames Valley. The 208 was noisy underfoot whereas the 2008’s ride was quieter. Both were on Michelin summer tyres.

Think of the 2008 as a larger and more purposeful version of the 208. It is taller and longer and wider and more accommodating. Each model has a commanding face, marked at the edges by LED daytime lights on the more expensive versions.

The interior of each car has what Peugeot confusingly calls a head-up display which is not a familiar projection on to the windscreen but another word for its i-cockpit. This has a higher instrument binnacle which requires you to drop the steering wheel, thus looking over the wheel at the dials. You will probably get the idea.

A marketing innovation is a moving hologram arc of blue which highlights speed and revs.

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Standard items on all models include alloy wheels (from 16 inches), air conditioning, speed limit recognition, road sign reading, distance alert. The fancy cockpit comes in at Allure and the vivid LED running lights and navigation are fitted at GT Line on the 2008 and the GT on the 208. At face value the 2008 costs some £3,000 more than the 208 but there can be slight variations in trim.

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