This small car is a big deal. It is the new Peugeot 208, and it gets exactly the same roomy interior and smart styling as the 1.2 petrol model that you can read about here.

But underneath its bonnet is a 134bhp electric motor that drives the front wheels, and is powered by a 50kWh lithium-ion battery. There’s no petrol engine. It’s pure electric, and it is deliberately designed to look just like the other 208s in the range. Peugeot believes that electric is as normal a choice as petrol (or soon will be), and so it has made its all-new electric car look just like a ‘normal’ 208. Only a subtle blue-green tinge to the Lion on its nose and rump and the ‘e-208’ badging gives it away.

Best electric cars to buy

Official WLTP driving range for the e-208 is 211 miles, and charging is done via the CCS and Type 2 port located at the back where you expect a fuel cap to be.

Plug into a 7kW charger (the standard speed for most home chargers), and you’ll have a full battery in around 7.5 hours, which will cost around £7 on an average home tariff.

Find one of the 100kW rapid chargers that are being rolled out across the UK now, and you’ll get a 20-80% top-up in some 20 minutes. The more common 50kW chargers often found on the motorway will do the same in around 40 minutes.

The interior is a strong point, too, with a smart-looking, minimalist dash and touchscreen setup, room for four adults to sit comfortably and a useful 311-litre boot – although the fact that it lacks dedicated cable storage back there is a real shame. 

And what’s it like to drive? Effortless. Electric cars don’t have gears, so of course, you get the trademark constant stream of power, and while it’s not quick off the line it’s punchier than most petrol alternatives.

You might have to get used to the brake regeneration if you’ve never driven an electric car before. This system tops up the batteries when you’re coasting or braking by harvesting the car’s own forward motion. All it means is that the car slows down automatically when you lift off the throttle.

The e-208 has only two levels of brake regen’; the default mode is very light and you’ll barely notice it. Nudge the gearlever and it switches into heavier ‘B’ mode, which is great for around town as the car slows smoothly and predictably. If you do need to stand on the brakes for harder stopping, be prepared to feel the pedal response change clunkily as it switches to the ordinary friction brakes about halfway down the pedal throttle – it’s disconcerting if you’re not expecting it.

Overall, the e-208 feels like a car that sets out to relax rather than excite. You can feel that it’s heavier than its petrol siblings in the way it heaves a bit more over undulations, and body roll is very noticeable in all of the 208s, but most of the time the suspension settles down and feels calm and cushy. 

We can’t comment on how it stacks up against the obvious rivals as the Renault Zoe is due for a heavy facelift and we’re yet to drive the Vauxhall Corsa-e that shares the Peugeot’s platform and powertrain, and is set to be similarly priced.

And about that price; The e-208 is expected to cost from just under £25,000 after the government grant, and that’s not a small amount of cash even for a car that will get touchscreen nav, air-con, cruise control and more in its cheapest trim. 

When an equivalent mid-spec 98bhp 1.2 petrol is likely to be some £7000 cheaper, it’s still a big ask to go electric despite the savings you can make in running costs. Suave and likeable as the e-208 is, the finance deals will make or break its attainability. Hopefully, Peugeot can match Vauxhall’s confirmed Corsa-e deal of £270 per month after a £5000 deposit, which will give it a chance of selling in big numbers.

Still, if the costs to a retail buyer are potentially a bit teeth-sucking, company car buyers can get their hands on an electric car virtually free thanks to super-low tax bands confirmed for the next three years. So if you’re eligible for an electric car through your company, the e-208 is a great option. 

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