As a car enthusiast, Peugeot is a brand which puzzles me. Why? Well, let’s just say the firm has the capacity to surprise, in both a good and bad way.  

From the brilliant 205 GTI to the ill-conceived 1007, Peugeot have produced some great cars and some truly questionable automotive oddities. The brand has also claimed numerous WRC, Dakar Championship and 24h of Le Mans titles, whilst also copping some flak over reliability woes on a handful of their vehicles in the early 2000s.

All this history shows that Peugeot is clearly a capable manufacturer, but they aren’t immune from mistakes. Which leads us to the next question; where is Peugeot, as a brand, today?

After seeing some recent media releases from Peugeot, I cannot say my brain fog has lifted. Their latest marketing drive features a bunch of millennials prancing around in colourful tracksuits, freezing in pouty poses whilst the narrator incorrectly personifies a lion. Meanwhile, a group of Peugeot engineers (presumably from the dark corner of the factory) revealed their insane 9X8 hybrid Le Mans concept hypercar. Colour me confused.

For this reason, I guess I was in two different headspaces when I went to collect Peugeot’s latest electrified supermini. Fred recently had the petrol-powered equivalent, and he loved it. Was I in for the same experience with the EV? We’ll find out.    

What We Like and Dislike About The 2021 Peugeot e-208

What we likeWhat we don’t like
Exterior styling
Unique interior
Slick 3D effect dash cluster
Big battery in a small frame
Good ride quality
Handling
Cramped rear passenger space
Frustrating infotainment interface
No radar cruise control
Not as spirited as its petrol-powered brother
Awkward pricing
No safety rating at time of test 

What’s In The 2021 Peugeot Range?

There are all of two models in the 208 range, making your choice easy. In fact, it’s made even easier by the drivetrain choice: petrol or electric.

So, buyers in New Zealand get to pick from the 208 GT or the e-208 (our test vehicle).

Naturally, there’s quite a price difference between the two, with the petrol-powered GT starting at $37,990, and the e-208 at $61,990. That’s a huge difference in cost, some $22,000, although the e-208 is eligible for the $8,625 Clean Car Rebate.

2021 Peugeot e-208 Standard Equipment Highlights

  • Heated and power-folding electric mirrors
  • Frameless, auto-dimming rear-view mirror
  • Electric park brake
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Peugeot 3D cockpit with 10” display
  • Ambient lighting
  • Alloy pedals and stainless steel sill covers
  • Full-grain perforated leather compact steering wheel
  • LED interior lights
  • Speed limit sign recognition
  • 6 airbags
  • Hill-start assist
  • Forward collision warning
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Tyre pressure monitoring
  • Cruise control
  • Driver attention alert
  • 3D Peugeot Claw design rear LED taillights
  • Automatic lights and wipers
  • Heated front seats
  • Welcome and Follow Me Home light functions
  • LED headlights with high beam assist
  • LED DRLs with Claw design
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Qi wireless phone charging
  • 6-speaker audio
  • 10” central touchscreen
  • Active emergency braking with night function and pedestrian/cyclist detection

Colour selections are reasonable, with Faro Yellow ‘free’ but any other colour an extra $550 or $950. Those more expensive colours are Nimbus Grey, Nera Black, Cumulus Grey, Elixir Red, Pearl White, and Vertigo Blue.Check out the Peugeot New Zealand website for more 208 information.

How Does The 2021 Peugeot e-208 Compare To Its Competition?

Make/ ModelBattery Capacity
kW/h
Power
/Torque
kW/Nm
0-100km/hRange
(
WLTP)
Boot
Space
Price
Hyundai Kona 64kWh64150/3957.6484 km332 Litres$79,990
Hyundai Ioniq 5
2WD
58125/350N/A384 km537 Litres$79,990
Mazda MX-3035.5107/2719.7224 km341 Litres$74,990
Tesla Model 3 Standard54190/4506.1491 km561 Litres$66,900
Hyundai Kona 39kWh39.2100/395<10305 km332 Litres$69,990
Hyundai Ioniq38.3100/3959.7311 km350 Litres$65,990
Peugeot 208 EV50100/2608.3348 km311 Litres$61,990
Mini Cooper EV32.6135/2707.3233 km211 Litres$60,400
MG ZS EV44105/3538.2263 km359 Litres$48,990

First Impressions Of The 2021 Peugeot e-208

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as is always true. Although, there is something to be said for safety in numbers.

Several people, men and women, complimented the looks of the 208 EV during the time I had it on test. Its broad appeal hardly came as a surprise, because the 208 looks like the sort of car the editor of Vogue magazine drives about in.

The proportions are all correct, the lines are soft but there’s enough hard-edged features, like the 3-Claw LED headlights to avoid any cutesy stigmas. Be sure to get yours in a wacky colour, like yellow, as the neutral colours (like the white on our test car) really don’t do it justice.

Great start for the wee Peugeot.

What’s The Interior Like In The 2021 Peugeot e-208?

There’s no doubt that the designers received a heap of praise for the exterior design of the 208, but how about inside?

Fortunately for Peugeot, the designers have nailed it again.  

There’s a genuine wow-factor the first time you jump inside the 208. The material range, the build quality, contrast upholstered seats and green and blue contrast stitching through the cabin all create a unique experience. Tying into the miles of green stitching are some green embedded decals on the door cards, which are also gently illuminated at night. 

Sitting squarely in front of you is Peugeot’s slick hexagonal-styled steering wheel, which fits in nicely with the unique aesthetic of the 208. However, the star of the show lies directly above the steering wheel, which is the 3D i-Cockpit with ‘configurable 10″ head-up digital instrument panel. Essentially, there’s an additional layer of Perspex situated above the main screen, which is projected onto by that screen. The result gives a 3D-projection of the main driving information (like your speedo) from the driver’s point of view. It’s pretty damn cool, and underscores many of the unique design features in the 208.  

Another special touch is the cockpit-style switch gear for the centre climate controls, which everyone who saw it was a fan of. Above these switches are some haptic controls for the heated seats and a handful of the vehicle safety controls, which are nicely incorporated into the bezel. 

Beneath those controls is an enclosed cubby containing a wireless charger, which is a nice bonus for the 208. However, one functional oversight is that the cubby lid to the wireless charger is gloss black. This means that the lid will have more finger print marks than a crime scene after you’ve spent a few weeks in the car.

On this tangent, so often fashionable is not always functional, which does hold true with the 208’s interior to some degree.

For starters, the central 10’’ infotainment really could do with some improvement. The screen itself offers great resolution and has rich colour and black levels. However, the touchscreen user-interface is atrocious. Even myself, as a somewhat tech-savvy millennial, had a difficult time navigating it. There is an alternative, which is the physical controls sitting on the bezel above the climate control. Although, I suspect that Apple CarPlay or Android Auto will be the go-to for many. 

The system also defaults to radio each time you start the vehicle, which is another pain-in-the-butt for the user. The speakers weren’t anything to write home about either. Another issue was that my Bluetooth also kept dropping out when streaming music to the unit. It’s not clear whether this was a problem with our vehicle, or the system generally. 

Another problem with the 208’s cabin is its natural dimensions. This being a small hatch means that rear passengers are subjected to a cramped and dark rear space. 

Car manufacturers can remedy this by introducing more light into the rear of the cabin. However, the dark material choices and the absence of a sunroof (which our petrol 208 had!) is double jeopardy for the e-208. Hope that your passengers aren’t claustrophobic. 

Speaking of small spaces, I wouldn’t look in the glovebox either. The storage space is divided, half of which is unusable. Aside from a few rough edges, Peugeot has delivered both a stylish and unique interior for the 208. Just fix that blimin’ infotainment!

What’s The 2021 Peugeot e-208 Like To Drive?

Not too long ago, Fred reviewed the petrol-powered Peugeot 208 GT. He praised it for its performance, powertrain character, handling and the ride. The wee 208 GT turned out to be an absolute ripper for a price of only $37,990.

So, more of the same for the e-208? Actually, the petrol and electric variants of the 208 differ more than one would expect.

Well duh, Sherlock. One is petrol and one is electric. But surely the EV will have more low-end punch?

Perhaps, but not by much. Our e-208 produces 100kW of power and 260Nm of torque, where the 208 GT produces 96kW of power and 230Nm of torque at 1750rpm. The petrol one is also at least 300kg lighter too.

Short of pairing these two economy hatchbacks off in a drag race that nobody is interested in, I suppose we aren’t going to find out the answer.

Anyway, all of this builds into another point about the e-208. Where Fred found the 208 GT fun to drive, I’m not convinced the e-208 meets the same standard as its brother. 

Why? It’s got the numbers. I suppose it doesn’t have that powertrain character. That, plus the e-208 is lugging around considerably more weight than the GT, so the e-208 never struck me as sprightly. But don’t accuse me of disliking the way the e-208 drives – it simply differs from its brother in more ways than one would expect.

Otherwise, the e-208 actually delivers a good driving experience. The e-208 is still fairly nippy, as many EV’s are, but the power delivery is more linear than instantaneous. The chassis is well-balanced, and it’ll take a fast corner with relatively little drama. Steering is light, and there’s a tight turning circle, which makes this an excellent city car. The ride quality was also better-than-expected, and road noise was at acceptable levels too.

There are three driving modes in the e-208; Sport, Normal and Eco. Each mode changes the level of regenerative braking, but also, Sport is the only mode where you’ll get the full squirt of power and torque from the motor. In Normal and Eco modes, both performance figures are reduced a fraction.

You can toggle these modes using the switch on the centre console, which brings us to our next point about the e-208 – there’s not much configurability with the regenerative braking. Also, none of the modes offer enough friction to give you a one-pedal driving experience either. 

One particular strength of the e-208 is range. Peugeot has, rather impressively, managed to package 50kWh of batteries into the small bodied EV. Compare this with the Mini Cooper EV and Mazda MX-30, those vehicles only get 32.6kWh and 35.5kWh batteries respectively. The range results speak for themselves, with the e-208 getting a claimed range of 348kms. Compare this with 224kms of range from similarly sized and priced Mini Cooper EV, the e-208 has it licked.

During our time with the e-208, we achieved an energy consumption rate of 17.3kwh per 100kms, which wasn’t too far off from the claimed figure. This was also achieved with plenty of motorway driving, which naturally disadvantages an EV.

As for driver safety technology, the systems mostly worked as expected, without being too sensitive. I say ‘mostly’ because the traffic sign recognition wasn’t the most reliable piece of software. Although, the biggest drawback is that there’s no adaptive cruise control available on the e-208. This is a pretty big omission for a car with a $60,000 base price. 

The 208 EV does have some driving related quirks to go along with the experience too.

The most startling one you’ll encounter once parked. When you shift into park and open the door, many modern EV’s will automatically apply the handbrake. The Peugeot e-208 doesn’t – instead it alerts the driver that it has not been applied.

Okay, so what’s the big deal? Well, that alert isn’t just some mild bonging noise. Instead, someone at Peugeot felt it was a good idea to incorporate a noise which sounds like a warning alert for an incoming nuclear projectile. If you ever need to jump out of the car for a brief few seconds, perhaps to properly close a door, be prepared for one heck of a shock.

These quirks aside, the final issue with the e-208 is the price point. At $60,000, this is priced in the same league as the Mini Cooper EV. While the e-208 is objectively better than the Mini in a number of categories, the issue is mainly with it’s the e-208’s indirect competition, these being the MG ZS EV and the Tesla Model 3

At the current price, it’s a little bit too close to the tech-laden Tesla Model 3, which has plenty of brand-hype (more than it deserves, some would argue) to counter the e-208’s stylish design. It’s also over $10,000 more expensive than the MG, which does the whole no-frills SUV on electricity thing for cheap. Given some of the alternatives, the e-208 is a slightly hard sell for those that aren’t entirely in love with it. 

I have no doubt that the e-208 would be flying out the door with base price closer to $50,000 (excluding the EV subsidy), but otherwise, I can see the current price point being an impediment for the wee Peugeot shifting plenty of units, of what is otherwise a unique and fun little hatch.

2021 Peugeot e-208 Specifications

Vehicle TypeElectric, 5-Door Compact Hatchback
Starting Price$61,990
Price as Tested$61,990
EngineBattery Electric Motor (Lithium-Ion)
Power, Torque
kW/Nm
100 / 260
TransmissionDirect Drive System
Spare WheelPuncture Repair Kit
Kerb Weight, Kg1,455 (GVW: 1910)
Length x Width x Height,
mm
4055 x 1745 x 1430
Cargo Capacity, litres311
Range348.5km
Electric Economy
kWh/100 km
Advertised Spec – Combined – 15.9
Real-World Test – Combined – 17.3
Towing Capacity
Kg, unbraked/braked
N/A
Turning circle, metres10.4
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
 Warranty5 year or 100,000km vehicle warranty
8 years or 160,000 km battery warranty (70% of charge capacity)
Safety informationANCAP Rating – Not rated **
Rightcar.govt.nz – Not Rated – E208GT **
** Petrol equivalent achieved a 4-star rating
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Economy
7
Handling
8
Infotainment
6
Interior
8
Performance
7
Ride
7
Safety
6
Styling
9
Value
7
Vehicle Technology
7
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A millennial who prefers driving cars to having avocado on toast.

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