What is it?
Another week, another feature with that opens with the line ‘another week, another compact crossover’. A further opportunity will come in January. But this week it’s the Peugeot e-2008, the taller small Peugeot that is not quite as small as the last one. At 4.3m long it’s 15cm longer than the 2008 it replaces, so is now longer than a Volkswagen Golf.It sits on Peugeot’s CMP (Common Modular Platform) small car architecture which, you may know, means it comes with a choice of internal combustion power or as a pure Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV), as tested here. Plug-in hybridisation is saved for bigger Peugeots and Citroens and DSs now, Vauxhalls later and who knows what beyond that, once parent company PSA Group merges with Fiat Chrysler as is planned next year. Anyway the idea is that that, instead of Peugeot making a standalone electric vehicle, you choose a car from the regular Peugeot range and then choose your powertrain – ‘thermal’ or, increasingly, electric – to suit you, which strikes me as a pragmatic long-term approach. We’ve only tested the combusted and electric versions separately because they’re still widely searched for separately online – I guess electrification’s work will be done when searches are powertrain agnostic and the EV will have truly entered the everyday motoring lexicon. Meantime the e-2008 is meant to feel much like an ICE 2008. Like all big car companies, Peugeot needs a mix of low- or zero-tailpipe emission vehicles to meet legislated CO2 targets. Its current order bank, with electrified versions into double figure percentages, suggests it’ll meet them comfortably.The 134bhp electric version will make up a double-digit percentage of 2008 sales, considerably more than the 99bhp manual-only diesel, which thanks to Volkswagen’s diesel cheating will likely make up just one 2008 in every 20. You can try to make a good case for a clean modern diesel, Peugeot CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato tells us, but “nobody’s listening”. The new 2008 joins a raft of compact crossovers and, at this size and price, is pitched against rather a lot of family hatchbacks too. Other crossovers have not exactly set a high bar, but the best small family hatchbacks are really rather good. Prices for combusted 2008s start at around £20,000 and rise to £31,000, with e-2008s costing £28,000 to £34,000 after government grant, though lower servicing and refuelling costs on the BEV are meant to keep overall ownership costs equivalent to a 129bhp petrol.
What is it like?
You can get this electrically-powered SUV in every one of the 2008s available trim levels but the one we tried was a GT Line (£32,000), three-quarters of the way up the ladder and quite classy inside, with some faux-leather and funky contrast stitching, with silvered plastics used sparingly enough that you can almost be convinced they’re actual chrome.
Adults will be able to get seated behind adults easily – you’d hope so too, in a car 4.3m long – and behind that there’s a 360-litre boot that Peugeot says is a very strong loadspace for the class. Depending on which class you pop it in, I suppose.
At this trim grade, the 2008 gets a large central touch screen that’s nice to look at but sometimes fiddly to use – the temperature control, at least, ought to be separated from it. And there’s a new, fancier 3D take on Peugeot’s i-cockpit, which as usual features a small steering wheel that’ll probably obscure part of the instrument pack, unless you set it very low and giving yourself a karty driving position.
The instrument pack now has several distinct layers, with a speedo, for example, reflected onto a screen from beneath – a bit like a head-up display, just in the usual instrument position. I’m making it sound more complicated than it is in reality. The idea is that, thanks to mirrors various, the instruments are actually projected from a greater distance from your eyes than regular dials, reducing the time you need to refocus from the road. Can’t say I noticed that, but it is a particularly attractive, customisable display.
The mechanical layout is straightforward. CMP is a steel monocoque with MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam at the rear. As with combusted models, the electric motor sits beneath the bonnet, along with its inverter and other ancillaries, and drives the front wheels, with no 4wd option. Such is the way of small crossovers/SUVs that you don’t even ask about four-wheel drive these days.
The 50kWh battery, smaller than the 64kWh ones you’d find in a Hyundai Kona Electric orKia e-Niro, sits where the gearbox would otherwise be, down the centre line, and in an H-shape beneath the seats, so doesn’t impinge on passenger space. It gives a WLTP range of 193 miles. You can charge it at 100kW from a DC fast charger, with up to 7.4kW from a single-phase AC wallbox which you can have fitted as part of the deal. Via a DC fast charge you can put 80% charge into the battery in half an hour, while a full charge is 7.5 hours from a 7.4kW box – so overnight, really. (There’s an optional 11kW charger if you have three-phase power, but most UK supplies are single phase, in which case the 11kW option actually takes ages because the car can only charge through one of the three phases, so 11 divided by three, or 3.7kW. Yes, bit complicated. We’ll get used to it.) The battery is warrantied for eight years and come resale time, Peugeot will give you a battery capacity certificate which will eventually be just another part of buying a used car: ‘Does it have service history, outstanding finance, has it been nicked, and how much life is left in the battery?’
Anyway, to drive, there’s not a vast difference in character between an e-2008 and a thermal model. The 134bhp motor has the advantage in that torque – 221lb ft of it – is available pretty much immediately and seamlessly. The e-2008 doesn’t arrive until four months after the ICE versions so was still, technically, a pre-production car, but you wouldn’t really know it.
On the downside the whole caboodle weighs 300kg more than an auto petrol, so body control is more loose. Because the centre of gravity is, presumably, lower than in an internally-combusted 2008, Peugeot hasn’t tried to tie it down to contain body movements, so the ride’s reasonable, not always a given on EVs, but if you want dynamism, an e-2008 isn’t for you. If you cared about dynamics that much, you probably wouldn’t be looking at a compact SUV anyway though.
Should I buy one?
The e-2008 finds itself as an unusual proposition. This is one of the best compact crossovers there is (not a high bar, granted) and with an electric option that is deliberately un-weird.
I’m still waiting for a small SUV that really sets new standards and, if you like driving, I still think you’d be better off with a lower car that is nicer to drive. But the e-2008 has distilled things to a simple proposition: if you like a 2008, does a zero emission variant suit the way you’ll use the car? As Guillame Clerc, the chief engineer on the 208 and 2008 projects says: “If we can’t sell electric 208s or 2008s, the world isn’t ready for EVs.” My guess is that it’ll do just fine.
Peugeot e-2008 specification
Where France Price £32,000 (after government grant) On sale April 2020 Engine permanent magnet synchronous electric motor Power 136bhp Torque 192-221lb ft Gearbox single speed automatic Kerb weight 1500kg Top speed 93mph 0-62mph tbc Range 193-217 miles CO2 0g/km Rivals Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia e-Niro, other Peugeot 2008s