By Mark Nichol
What Is It?
As the little ‘e’ in front of the name suggests, the e-2008 is the fully electric version of the Peugeot 2008 small crossover SUV. Now you might assume that the electric version is very different to a ‘normal’ petrol or diesel 2008, but you’d be wrong. In fact, Peugeot has made the electric 2008 exactly the same in every way bar what’s powering it. And that means the e-2008 is one of the very best small crossovers on the market today, with the added bonus of zero emissions running, which in turn means added refinement, added quickness and lower running costs.
What’s Good About It?
For a start, just look at the thing. This is a truly lovely piece of design, packed with detail; it’s distinct and yet coherent. And because of the way the battery is packaged, you get exactly the same boot volume as you would in a petrol or diesel model - a boot finely furnished with a twin floor, oddment pockets, and a flat loading bay for ease of loading. The rear space is identical too, which is to say not a family car sized amount but more than passable for younger kids or adults willing to accept the ignominy of not being in the front.
But the best thing about the e-2008 is that the aggressive detail of the exterior is matched by one of the best cabins in the business. It feels high quality throughout, it’s designed with a true sense of surprise and delight, and it’s quirky too, thanks to a setup that gives you an unusually small, low-set steering wheel. Peugeot calls this the ‘i-Cockpit’, but beyond the cheesy name, all you really need to know is that it gives this tall SUV-type-thing the feel of a go-kart, and yet basic comfort is excellent.
What Could Be Better?
A little space is sacrificed in the cabin as a result of the squat design of the 2008, so while even tall adults will be fine up front, at the back it’s a little tight for headroom; the 2008 is closely related to the Vauxhall Mokka - same basic chassis - and if you’re more concerned about interior space than anything else, that’s a good alternative to this.
And assuming you can get on board with the unusual steering wheel setup, there are still some niggles in the cabin that might frustrate you. The infotainment screen isn’t the most intuitive to use, and the menu shortcut buttons aren’t the clearest. And you might get vexed about how small the glovebox is, because as with many cars from Peugeot-Citroen, the majority of the space is blanked off - the result of adapting the car to right-hand drive but leaving the main circuit board on the left hand side.
What’s It Like To Drive?
It’s brilliant. Almost certainly the most dynamically rewarding small crossover on the market today, belying its tall proportions and feeling more like a small hatchback around the corners. Basically it stands in a class of two, alongside the Ford Puma, in being an SUV-type car that’s genuinely good fun to drive enthusiastically. The real beauty of the e-2008 is that it’s not set up like a sports car, though. It’s set up to be a comfy crossover. The suspension feels surprisingly soft on a bumpy road. You really do expect the e-2008 to be about as comfortable as bumping into your ex-partner, but instead it has a wavy, soothing, ameliorating quality. And that’s especially impressive given it’s an electric car.
That’s because an electric drivetrain equals extra weight - mainly the big battery under the floor - and so the suspension needs to be a little firmer to handle that weight. That in turn can give some EVs a ‘jiggly’ quality. But in the e-2008 that’s just not the case at all, even in a sporty GT Line car, with its big wheels - big wheels being another thing that can adversely affect ride comfort. In fact, all that weight pressing the car down actually helps a bit with the handling. It grips well. It turns sharply. The accelerator pedal is responsive. And it feels quick.
Power comes from a 100kW motor (134hp), which doesn’t sound like much in an electric car of such chunky proportions - it’s the same drivetrain found in the Corsa-e, for instance - but it feels quicker than it looks on paper. Its 9.3-second 0-62mph time isn’t anything to brag about in the pub, but the instant pick-up when you press the accelerator gives it a super sharp, dynamic, instantaneous sort of feel. Combine that with surprisingly tight body control - surprising because of the softish ride quality - and you have a lovely blend of cornering fun and day-to-day comfort.
How Practical Is It?
Small crossovers are designed to give you as much usable space as possible from a footprint about the same size as a small hatchback, and while there are a few that do it better than the e-2008, it still fulfils that brief very nicely. The 434-litre boot is the same capacity as the petrol 2008’s, and it has a twin floor that can be lifted to the height of the boot lip for easy loading. You can hide stuff under there too, if you like. You’ll find more room in a Kia e-Niro (both rear passenger and boot space) in the cheaper, but slightly bigger, MG ZS EV, but the e-2008 should just about pass as a main car for families with younger kids.
How Much Will It Cost Me?
Not much. So it’s true that EVs are more expensive up front than their internal combustion engine (ICE) equivalents, which means the monthly lease cost is higher. However, you’ll more than make that back in the fuel savings you’ll make, especially if you keep your battery charged at home, and even more so if you do it during off-peak electricity tariff times. The e-2008 isn’t the cheapest EV on the market either - the MG ZS EV and the Renault Zoe both undercut the e-2008. But, if you’re a company car driver you’ll save literally thousands per year in BiK tax compared to an ICE car, and in an e-2008 you’ll be measuring your per-mile costs in pennies.
Peugeot claims a 214-mile battery range from a full charge, which is just about realistic if you drive carefully, and it has rapid charging as standard, meaning it’ll take about 7.5 hours to get from 0-100% using a 7kW home wall box. An optional 11kW on-board charger reduces that time to about 4.5 hours.
Anything Else I Should Know?
Part of Peugeot’s i-Cockpit setup is a digital instrument panel with 3D graphics. It sounds gimmicky, and it is in a way, but it works really well. It gives the instruments a proper futuristic feel, in keeping with the rest of the cabin, but it makes the central speed reading a little clearer too. The basic Active Premium spec car doesn’t have this feature, but everything above that does. The e-2008 also has 4 USB ports as standard, which sounds trivial but you’ll find it extremely useful if this is your family car - we all know how good the kids are at keeping their phone batteries charged, right?
What Alternatives Should I Look At?
A solid EV from Kia, with interesting looks, plenty of space and excellent battery range.
A bigger car than the e-2008, but better value and with significantly improved battery range in the latest model.
DS 3 Crossback E-Tense
Based on the same platform as the e-2008, the DS 3 Crossback is just as striking to look at and a little more comfy.
The Vanarama Verdict: 9/10
"Very few cars have the combination of striking looks with a driving experience to match, and yet in a package that’s pretty spacious and generally very comfortable. It’s not the cheapest, but here’s a strong case for this being the best small electric crossover on the market. "
3 Things To Remember About the Peugeot e-2008:
It has one of the most futuristic cabins on the market.
It’s by far the most fun-to-drive small crossover EV on sale.
It’s not the most spacious small crossover, especially in the rear seats.