Peugeot bolsters Australia’ electric choice with its first ever EV passenger car that proves good and not so great in roughly equal parts
And in doing so, the French brand debuts its first-ever passenger EV, beating electro-chain-dragging rivals such as Toyota and Mazda to the punch with an offering that sits, price wise, neatly between today’s cheap ‘entry’ EVs and pricer nameplates accustomed to the lion’s share of fully electric attention.
The sole high-spec GT variant of the E-2008 clocks in at $59,990 list, presenting a fair chunk of change over entry-level versions of Tesla’s Model 3 sedan and Model Y SUV and the likes of Polestar 2, if wanting for more outlay than the buck-banging champions such as BYD Atto 3 small SUV and MG4 hatch.
This $60K sweet spot is bang on Cupra Born money, the Spanish-branded hatchback a model that Chasing Cars rates highly, if a choice lacking the long motoring and brand providence of the French newcomer.
Even a cursory glance suggests that Peugeot hasn’t meddled by much measure with styling, the ‘e’ version adopting a fancy, wedge-like exterior appeal of the regular 2008, complete with a cabin that is a dead-ringer for the petrol versions that still line the four-strong local small crossover ranks.
This is both good and not so great. For one thing, the E-2008 looks and generally feels familiar to those partial to its three-piston-powered twin, without the ostentatious EV stylisms celebrated by Tesla, Polestar and the likes of Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 midsize SUV that mightn’t be to some electro-curious buyer tastes.
The flip-side is that the sole E-2008 is pretty much like the petrol flagship, the 2008 GT Sport, in most respects, with a roughly nine-grand pricier ask for electron power.
Thing is, the GT Sport – of MY22 vintage – is being phased out of the local lineup, soon to leave the regular petrol GT as the next rung down from the electric version. And the petrol GT is, at $43,397 list, a whopping $16,500 saving against the EV…at least before government rebates.
But you’re buying into vastly superior electric performance, right? Well…
With just 100kW and 260Nm from its sole front-driven electric motor, the E-2008 GT actually offers just four additional kilowatts and 30 extra Newton metres over the little 1.2-litre three-cylinder powering the petrol Allure and GT variants. And has less power than the outgoing 114kW GT Sport…
Further, this is nowhere near the 170kW/310Nm outputs offered by the E-2008 GT’s logical electric Cupra Born cross shop.
Then there’s range. Where a Born will get you around 470 kilometres between stints on the charger, the Peugeot’s peak range is rated at 328km WLTP. And that’s because the E-2008 fits a modest 50kWh (gross) – or around 46.3kWh usable – battery in the company of a rival fitting a 77kWh unit.
Still, as it is becoming ever clearer with the more prolific roll out of EV choices, on-paper credentials don’t necessarily reflect real-world usability and drivability.
For on thing, at just 1548kg tare, the E-2008 is certainly one of the most lightweight electrics on the block, which can certainly impact the on-road experience in positive ways, often by no small measures.
In fairness, the mild outputs and unremarkable range offered by E-2008 does reflect French motoring tendencies – just look at the modesty of those 1.2L petrol threes – even if the stats do appear underbaked through a power- and range-hungry Aussie lens in an era where stonking EV performance is still a helluva novel party trick.
Clearly, the E-2008 positions itself as an urban-centric EV with enough of the right stuff specifically for that role. And figuring out whether it’s good or not should really be in sympathy of that pitch.
As mentioned, at $59,990 the E-2008 GT mostly covers off the spec and features also offered in the outgoing petrol GT Sport (circa $52K).
Key E-2008 features include:
Absent from the equipment list are some features that ought to be fitted standard to a $60K vehicle, including rear air vents, wireless smartphone mirroring, inductive phone charging and a powered tailgate.
Due to the EV packaging limitations, the E-2008 does not fit a space saver spare wheel like its petrol twins do.
EV specific standard features include a two position boot floor, a Mode 3 Type 2 wallbox/public charge station cable (a domestic Mode 2 Type 2 cable is optional), an ‘E-remote’ charging control app and an AVAS sonic alert system for pedestrian safety during low-speed driving.
While the EV version is largely identical to the petrol 2008 outside, differing mainly in grille mesh colour-coding and select ‘e’ badging.
However, it does sit on an enhanced version of the Stellantis Common Modular Platform called, predictably, e-CMP. And at 1548kg tare, it’s about a quarter tonne heavier than its petrol model mates.
Disclosure: your reviewer isn’t a big fan of the regular versions’ 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine and six-speed auto combination. Despite clear and evident charm, it suffers from a peaky engine sweet spot that the auto struggles to harness smoothly and effectively.
Electric single-speed drive ought to cure some of these ills and it does. And even if 100kW and 260Nm, by usual EV measure, isn’t much to work with.
You need to bury the right foot for the E-2008 to really boogie, as there’s none of that typical electric instant and dynamite thrust. And that’s no bad thing. In fact, having the full throttle swing available to modulate forward velocity is ideal for around town driving.
It’s more progressive under foot and allows less concentrated throttle application than some peaky EVs (such as any Tesla). And yet, that instant torque character remains, with low-to-mid-rpm response akin to, say, a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine. It’s not lacking for off-the-mark shove.
The motor winds up progressively and in a typical linear EV manner. And while it does take its time to get to triple figures – 8.85sec 0-100km/h was our test track best – it doesn’t lack for enthusiastic progress or flexible drivability.
It is a straightforward EV system. Eco, normal and sport drive modes return the expected characteristics with the middling setting returning the mostly balanced drivability, the setting we favoured for most commuting and touring.
Be it set to eco on the open road or normal around town, consumption clung obediently to 16.3-16.4kWh…pretty much for the entire week of our custodianship.
There’s no adjustable energy regeneration per say: just D-for-drive for a close approximation of internal combustion driving with moderate motor braking effect, or the option of B-for-brake for a strong one-pedal-like calibration.
At 328kms claimed, the E-2008 actually falls short on outright range for Chasing Cars’ typical EV range testing regime typically requiring 350kms or range in the ‘tank’.
However, we did test along a shortened section of our usual road loop and calculated real-world range accordingly, where the Peugeot returned a figure of 284km.
That’s ought to be plenty of range for some buyers’ daily running about, though not nearly enough for others.
Thanks to the relatively light kerb weight, there’s a natural lightness to the drive. The chassis isn’t overly sprung in compensation of maintaining body control in the face of hefty inertia, so it’s both reasonably crisp in cornering response and inherently rides quite nicely.
It’s not ponderous in dynamic reaction and overly reliant on tyre grip for handling, as many porky EVs tend to be.
That stated, the E-2008 isn’t exactly the plush when it comes to outright compliance, and those 18-inch wheels do jar occasionally across urban road acne.
Further, there’s about as much spirited sportiness as your average small-stature crossover, in that it’s perhaps more cooperative than it is encouraging when it comes to tackling backroad curves.
It steers fine, the brakes well enough, in manners are unremarkable if foible free. In short, there’s not a lot to cloud the daily urban punt between office and home, at least when it comes to underpinnings.
The interior, though, is another story entirely…
Where the E-2008 – and indeed the whole 2008 lineup – comes a little unravelled is with first-row accommodation.
The interior certainly dishes out styling flamboyant enough to back up promises pitched by the vehicle’s fetching exterior. But in terms of design – by the classic definition, in terms of usability terms – the E-2008 is a strong case of form over functionality.
When it comes to gripes, the conspicuous low-hanging fruit is Peugeot’s i-Cockpit, a unique selling point now in its digital second generation and critical bone of contention since it first lobbed in analogue form eons ago.
This i-Cockpit arrangement attempts to locate the in-dash instrument binnacle above an undersized, oddly hexagonal shaped wheel. Except, unless you drop the wheel into your lap the wheel rim completely obscures the (now-digital) display, which is three-dimensional and offers a choice of six different display skins…apparently.
I don’t actually know as I can’t see the display that (one presumes) includes need-to-know stuff such as a speedometer.
Awkward wheel placement is exacerbated by quite proud pedal placement in the footwell, that jams your knees – if you’re 170cm or taller like I am – into the back of the low-positioned steering wheel.
Compounding this profound take on driver ergonomics is that there’s no seat-base height adjustment at the seat base’s leading edge. Instead, the seat base tilts, lowering your bum while offering no facility to dial in under-thigh adjustment.
In concert, the wheel/pedal/seat relationship is awkward at best, tiring and fatiguing at worst. It also severely lacks any sense of natural driver control at the helm.
The seats themselves aren’t back, a combination of Alcantara, leather and cloth that’s nicely stitched and brings a sense of occasion to meet the semi-premium ambience that the E-2008 tried hard to muster up.
However, the acres of mid-grey plastic and unconvincing faux carbon-fibre look texture won’t cause Audi interior designers any lost sleep.
The centre stack is…interesting. There’s a lot of piano black, a neat sliding transmission selector switch and the console rises to an array of shortcut buttons for feature adjustment that looks fancy and feels slickly tactile yet is a little confusing to actually use.
Take, for instance, HVAC control. Most of the aircon adjustment is (distractingly) made through the modest 10.0-inch media touchscreen. Except, to access it, you need to flip the toggle switch on the centre stack array, creating an unnecessarily cumbersome route to what ought to be a simple adjustment.
The media system, for its part, is pretty ordinary by most critical measures of sharpness, processor speed and usability. DAB+ and proprietary sat-nav are included, though letting the team down is the fisheyed reversing camera that does expand to 360-degree viewing, though the displayed imagery is quite small and grainy.
For its $60K ask the lack of wireless phone mirroring and the absence of inductive phone charging are glaring omissions. You do get four USB outlets of the older A type shared across both rows.
Row two doesn’t improve much on the in-cabin experience. The door aperture is awkward to negotiate, knee room is slim, and while the rear bench is comfy enough once you’ve nestled in there are few frills and no rear air vents.
The so-called panoramic roof also only covers the first row – it’s just a sunroof – and the high-swept door cards tend to block light and outward vision for shorter rear occupants, which leaves the E-2008 feeling somewhat claustrophobic.
Frankly, the 2008 format does feel skewed more towards couples who rarely need space for rear passengers, rather than a bona-fide SUV intended for small families.
In terms of boot space, the E-2008 officially offers the same 434L as the petrol versions, though there is a caveat here. The EV fits a dual floor and the cubby space this creates is ideal for storing the EV’s charge cable. However, it does eat into overall luggage space for what is effectively a much smaller boot than its stablemates by comparison.
Further, unlike the space-saver-equipped petrol alternatives, the EV doesn’t fit any spare wheel.
While the Peugeot 2008 earned a five-star ANCAP rating in 2019, the result only applies to internal combustion versions and, thus, excludes the electric E-2008.
That said, the electric newcomer does fit a more comprehensive features set than what is offered in the current Allure and GT petrol variants.
Standard features across the range include:
The E-2008 GT specifically adds:
No variants currently on offer fit reversing AEB, rear cross traffic alert or forward junction alert.
Ownership credentials are quite enticing. Particularly when it comes to servicing.
Peugeot offers both a three-year and and five-year servicing pack that can be had for an up-front cost of $600 and $1000 respectively. Impressively, the intervals are a long 25,000kms between visit (or 12 months, whichever comes first).
Meanwhile, warranty is a typical five years of unlimited-kilometre coverage, while the battery is covered for eight years and up to 160,000kms.
Consumption wise, the E-2008 returned a consistent 16.3-16.4kWh. However, its small battery pack only manages to provide enough juice for an as-tested 284km of maximum range.
Recharging wise, 10-80 percent charge takes around 30 minutes at its 100kW DC fast charging peak. If you have access to a wallbox (an additional cost) it takes around five hours to charge to 100 percent at 11kW three phase and around 7.5 hours at 7.4kW single phase. Using a 10-amp domestic outlet takes 24 hours.
It’s fair to say that the E-2008 is Peugeot easing rather than diving into electric passenger car waters.
That said, it follows on quickly from the E-Partner small commercial van launched a few months back with largely similar EV motivation and the small SUV newcomer will be followed soon by the arrival of the compact E-208 electric hatchback.
None are pillars of electric performance or range, though in the case of the E-2008 – and the E-Partner – evidence suggests that the French importer is gently breaking new ground for itself by merely offering what it hopes are viable electric alternatives for their existing ICE-based models.
That this particular EV looks, feels and smells much like the petrol version is by design and is definitely enticing for those after French flair electrified but who don’t necessarily want to flaunt their electro-sensibilities.
Further, the modest EV means and limited range capabilities won’t deter certain buyers intent on using the E-2008 how Peugeot has pitched it: as a daily urban runabout for those who don’t habitually clock up big kays in their usual routines.
The E-2008 would likely make an ideal second car for those after a stylish runabout to sit alongside an ICE or hybrid vehicle slated for longer touring and motoring’s heavier lifting.
However, the 2008 as a breed does remain a mixed bag in outright terms. Sure, the EV motivation smooths over some rough patches paved by the 1.2L petrol three-pot versions and makes the crossover even more charming and likable, but it’s not without flaws and compromises.
That $16,500 walk-up from the petrol GT is a huge step, even when partially offset by many of the state and territory government rebates, and will surely deter many buyers keen to dip their toes into EV waters.
And while Peugeot boasts a much grander motoring providence, the Born nemesis from upstart Cupra outpunches the E-2008 on too many levels to be seriously ignored.
All the high voltage parts of a Polestar 2 in a trendier SUV skin, the 300kW XC40 may not be efficient, but it’s cool, practical and has an excellent sound system
Key specs (as tested)
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