The Top Gear car review: Peugeot e-2008

The Top Gear car review: Peugeot e-2008

As seen on topgear.com

The Top Gear car review:Peugeot e-2008

A crossover with a point: a practical, fun place to be and plenty of electrified zip

FOR: 

Interesting to look at, interesting to sit in

AGAINST: 

An e-208 will be cheaper and quicker

Overview

What is it?

It’s a Peugeot that looks like some sort of alien hamster. And we mean that entirely as a compliment. If you’re one of those people who sees faces within the features of inanimate objects, then the e-2008 might look amusing rather than outright beautiful, but at least it draws you in.

This generation of Peugeot 2008 is a damn sight more interesting than its predecessor for a multitude of reasons, and its more bespoke styling is the one that’ll hit you first. Hopefully not literally, but given it now comes with the option of near-silent electric power, that’s surely become a lot more possible.

Yep, the other major new string to the 2008’s bow is its plug-in powertrain. You can still have petrol or diesel power (remember ‘deez-il’?) but of significantly more interest is the e-2008. You’ve just one level of power to choose from for now, but it arrives proven already, appearing in Peugeot’s dinkier e-208 hatchback as well as the DS 3 Crossback e-tense and Vauxhall Corsa-e. A sprightlier Peugeot Sport version might just follow in time.

For now, you get the same mixture of 100kW power and 50kWh battery as its cousins, which adds around 350kg to the 2008 to tip it past the 1.5-tonne mark. But as usual with modern EVs, the extra mass is all in the floor. Better for handling, and it means room for people and luggage is unimpeded too. The fully charged range is around 200 miles, down around five per cent on the skinnier 208 and Corsa.

The other place this larger car squeezes your pocket is with its purchase or lease price, too. Government grants shift all the time, but the cheapest e-2008 is around £28,500 as we write this. Which is £3,000 more than a similarly equipped e-208, but the witchcraft of finance mean you’ll actually part with the same amount of cash each month on lease. At least on Peugeot’s lending scheme, anyway, where the base e-2008 Active kicks off at £375 a month, though we suspect there are better deals to be had from third parties.

It’s also worth noting an entry e-2008 is only around £1,500 more than the cheapest Vauxhall Corsa-e, too. Which may or may not be a hint that this will be cheaper to buy than the electric Mokka that’ll arrive at some point in the future.

Driving

What is it like on the road?

First impressions don’t break from the electric car norm, but if you’re new to EVs with the e-2008 - as we suspect a vast swathe of buyers or leasers will be - there’ll still be much novelty value aboard.

You’ll glide away in near-silence, which means pedestrians getting as unwisely close to you as spectators on a Group B rally stage. Passers-by still aren’t used to cars creeping quietly up on them, after all. Once up to speed, you’re suddenly hyper-aware of wind and tyre noise. Neither is especially uncouth in this car, it’s just there’s no longer 3,000rpm of internal combustion to smother them on a motorway cruise.

What isn’t here – but comes as standard on all the EVs you’ve see on YouTube – is organ-busting acceleration. You’d better avoid YouTube-bound drag races in this thing, because the e-2008 is a little more subtle than that, its power delivered smoothly enough to never upset grip at the driven front axle.

But there’s more depth to the experience here. Just like in the e-208 and Corsa-e, a Drive Mode toggle switches between Eco (80bhp), Normal (108bhp) and Sport (the full 134bhp) modes and allows you to balance performance and battery range as you see fit. Kept in the latter it’s a pleasingly brisk car – the punchiest feeling 2008 in the entire range – but in truth you might explore it once and then default to Normal the rest of the time (just like the car does on start-up), only really calling on Eco when the next charger looks ominously far away. There’s an app to help you manage all that sort of stuff, of course.

Some EVs don’t ride especially well, stiffened up to counter their extra weight over internal combustion. The e-2008 is absolutely fine, and much like its petrol and diesel range mates, doesn’t really suffer from a punishing ride any more than its myriad rivals on similarly plump 18in wheels. It’s a far cry from cloud-like French cars of old, but it won’t rattle your teeth out. As ever, avoid large alloys and you’ll have a nicer time for it.

Of course, a firm-edged ride does wonders for agility and - whether buyers actually crave it or not - the 2008 makes its case as the sportiest small crossover thingy in the Peugeot, Citroen, DS and Vauxhall empire. We suspect that’s hardly of utmost importance, but it does mean that if Peugeot ever whacks sporty badges and another e-motor at this, they’ll probably fit just fine.

On the inside

Layout, finish and space

Good as it may be to drive, it’s the e-2008’s cabin that’ll likely win most people over. This is how we imagined future car interiors would look a couple of decades ago, when we also presumed monorail and hoverboard would be chief among 2020’s alternative transport options.

Its headline act is undoubtedly the ‘3D cockpit’, standard on all but the cheapest 2008 (which will count for just ten per cent of sales). It takes the now de rigueur digital instruments but adds a double-layered, holographic feel to them, and Peugeot tells us it cuts 0.5sec from drivers’ reaction times.

Far more impressive in real life than any pictures, imagine it like Audi’s Virtual Cockpit if it could display a big sat-nav map and a big speedometer all at once, among a vast array of other functions. In the e-2008 you can toggle to a pleasing graphic showing the energy flow between the batteries and motors. The biggest compliment we can pay the whole setup is that it makes sense of Peugeot’s diddy steering wheel, finally warranting the compromised driving position it brings taller drivers.

Beyond a joyous set of dials, there are other goodies: four USB ports – one of them in the new-fangled USB-C format – as well as inductive charging, so you won’t be short of power for you and your passengers’ devices. One of which will also link seamlessly to the touchscreen via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, though a neat forward-hinged cubby hole will also safely prop a phone up in portrait mode if you’re keen to use Waze while still viewing the car’s own media displays. A nice touch, huh? Thought’s gone into this car.

The 434-litre luggage space (back seats up) is no worse than a petrol 2008 and the boot floor has two tiers, allowing you to keep mucky charging cables away from your Nice Things. There’s enough space in the rear seats for most sizes of adult, too. Particularly if you’ve avoided the big pano glass roof.

But we must nitpick, and if you’ve driven a Peugeot in the last five or six years, we suspect this vexes you to. Open your door an inch or two while the car’s still running (checking your distance from a kerb, for instance) and you’ll initiate the most painfully shrill sound in the history of not just cars, but travel itself. It’s awful.

Owning

Running costs and reliability

As we write, Peugeot will give you free installation of a home socket that’ll allow the e-2008 to fully charge in 7.5 hours. Without it you’re looking at around 17 hours using a standard three-pin domestic socket like you plug your hoover into. When the offer ends, we reckon you should try and bargain it into the deal…

Peugeot quotes between 191 and 206 miles of range on the WLTP cycle, and the battery comes with an eight year/100,000 mile warranty. After an initial one year/8,000-mile check-up, servicing is every two years/16,000 miles.

Optional is a ‘mobility pass’ that means you can borrow something with internal combustion whenever you need to cover a large mileage without being held hostage by a charging infrastructure still in its infancy.

There’s a swathe of active safety tech as standard on all 2008s, but if you want adaptive cruise control – to yield semi-autonomous behaviour in traffic – you’ll be spending more than £30,000. Same goes for those stunning 3D dials, which are fitted to all e-2008s barring the entry-level Active versions. It’s worth noting there are two different NCAP safety ratings, depending on whether you’ve specced all the safety tech. The 2008 achieves five stars with it all, four stars without.

A black contrasting roof only comes with top spec GT Line and GT models, though a spangly metallic orange is the standard body colour at every trim level. A refreshing change from the ‘kitchen appliance white’ that’s your free colour on a fair few of the 2008’s rivals. Mind, if you want the fancy ‘claw’ headlights you see on this car, they too are reserved for GT Lines and GTs, and the regular headlights just aren’t quite as funky. A minor detail, naturally, but key if you want the alien hamster look in full.

While petrol and diesel 2008s come with the option of ‘grip control’ – a knob to shift through different traction control settings, a sort of soft-road cheat code in the absence of actual 4WD – it’s not available on the e-2008. Same goes for fully autonomous parking. We can’t imagine too many people will miss either.

Verdict

Final thoughts and pick of the range

A crossover with a point: a practical, fun place to be and plenty of electrified zip

Crossovers don’t often impress us: they can’t help but feel like fatter, slower, more expensive versions of neat little hatchbacks. And sure, a Peugeot 208 will do much of what the 2008 does, for less money. So you’ll have to really want the extra space and ride height on offer here.

Yet with its second attempt, Peugeot has made the 2008 a properly appealing thing in its own right. It looks way more special than it did before, like it’s been sketched seperately to its base car where the last one resembled a 208 photocopied at 130 per cent. And with the combination of spangly 3D dials and electric power, it feels futuristic without any Back to the Future Part II naffness.

Crucially, though, if you want an electric car that’s as easy to use as its petrol equivalent, the e-2008 is that too.

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