Car reviews - Peugeot - e2008
Enjoyable and efficient suburban drive experience, premium interior design and materials, lots of standard kit
Room for improvement
Battery range, performance and DC charging specs sub-par for the price, dynamics get a bit ragged when pushed, facelift already revealed overseas
It may not impress on paper but seat time in Peugeot’s e-2008 reveals much to like
6 Sep 2023
ON PAPER, it seems difficult in 2023 to justify paying a Banjo under sixty grand – and that’s before on-road costs – for a really rather small electric car that has a paltry-by-today’s-standards 328km battery range and ho-hum 100kW maximum DC rapid charging capability.
Reading the spec sheet further, this 1.6-tonne small SUV has just 100kW and 260Nm to drag it along by the front wheels. Not looking good for the little Peugeot e-2008.
Worse, its maker has already revealed a facelifted version overseas that aside from the usual visual and tech tweaks, gets 15 per cent more power and a bigger battery pack that contributes to an increased range of more than 400km on a single charge.
Keep leafing through the brochure, though, and it quickly occurs that Peugeot Australia has thrown the kitchen sink at this thing in terms of standard equipment. Essentially, if the factory in Spain can fit it to a 2008, it’s included with the Australian-spec e-2008.
After all, they need to put it all somewhere in preparation for the new version to enter production…
But wait. We’ve all been seduced by long ranges and even longer spec sheets from sub-$60K Chinese-made electric cars from BYD, GWM, MG and, of course, Tesla. The quasi-European, Chinese-built Polestar 2 is no longer in that price category but it is conceivable that Peugeot buyers might be tempted.
A reality check comes in the shape of Kia’s Niro. Similar in size to the Peugeot, it has a lot more battery range and better performance figures but is a pretty bare-bones affair in base form while being around 10 per cent more expensive than an e-2008.
On the other hand – and as European as our protagonist – the Cupra Born hatchback matches Peugeot on price, has a whopping battery range, sprightlier performance from its rear-drive underpinnings and decent levels of standard kit – albeit with a bit of give-and-take versus the e-2008.
The e-2008, then, looks like a tough sell for a brand that has had a tough time selling anything in Australia for the past few years despite the high quality of its offerings.
But as we have seen, Australians are going out on a limb with unknown brands simply to get a taste of the electric vehicle action.
This could be Peugeot’s time to shine. And, after a couple of hours behind the wheel of the e-2008, our misgivings about its on-paper value proposition started to fade.
With the brand’s products already packing enough quirks, such as the polarising i-Cockpit layout with tiny steering wheel that you position low in order to see the high-set instrument binnacle above, Peugeot appears to have made the e-2008 experience as similar to the excellent petrol version as possible.
A unique rocker switch style gear selector and a couple of subtle differences to the three-dimensional digital instrument panel, supplanting fuel level with battery state of charge and the tacho with energy usage and recuperation dial, are really all that separate this car from the one that burns hydrocarbons under the hood.
Look closely and an additional ‘zap’ icon has been added to the array of touch buttons in the centre stack, activating a new and rather simple energy efficiency and electricity flow readout on the 10-inch central infotainment touchscreen.
The screen also provides access to native navigation and wired Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity plus various settings, such as the eight-colour ambient lighting. Peugeot is getting better at touchscreens but the one in this car is still laggy, taking a few seconds to respond to inputs from tapping the screen itself or through the shortcut buttons and classy toggle switches below.
On the subject of classy, the e-2008 interior matches its petrol counterparts for appeal. That $60K price tag starts to feel genuinely justified in here, with a fine mixture of materials, a sense of solidity and clever design that combine to make this car feel more special than you’d otherwise get in similarly priced cars regardless of propulsion persuasion.
Leather and Alcantara seats – power adjusted with massage for the driver – remained comfortable and supportive during our drive, throughout which we noted that Peugeot had clearly added a layer or five of additional sound deadening to the e-2008 such was the remarkable serenity and refinement.
Making our way through Sydney’s crumbling suburban streets, the e-2008’s weight gain of more than 300kg over its petrol siblings was brought to bear as stiffer springs fought to contain the extra mass and sharp-edged expansion joints elicited a hollow pang from the tyres that no amount of extra insulation seemed to quell.
Still, this was anything but unbearable and we soon came to appreciate the combination of predictable, instantaneous power delivery, excellent visibility, compact footprint and responsive steering that made the e-2008 an absolute joy to punt through traffic.
We absolutely revelled in this quality, while on sections of road that repeatedly transitioned from free-flowing to long traffic light queues, the adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go function and easy one-touch action to select the prevailing speed limit plus that massaging driver’s seat reduced rush-hour unpleasantness to a minimum.
Pushing further north into Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, the petrol 2008’s remarkably light and lithe dynamics could only be replicated up to a point by the proportionally much heavier electric version.
Although generally feeling stable, planted and mature in its road manners, more enthusiastic driving on the national park’s rippled corner surfaces resulted in violent kickback from the otherwise numb steering that was made manageable only by the high level of power assistance.
Thumbs up for the calibration of traction and stability controls on the e-2008, though, which even in these challenging conditions and under duress seemed to work with rather than against the driver.
Not that it was easy to break traction with the available power and torque; unlike many electric cars the e-2008 feels pleasantly nippy rather than neck-snappingly rapid but this only helped it feel less jarring after stepping out of a petrol-powered vehicle.
All in all, the e-2008 is fit for purpose dynamically as a suburban runabout that can deliver big car refinement for out-of-town jaunts and enough dynamic ability to feel safe and secure on challenging roads for the vast majority of drivers.
Switching between Normal and Sport driving modes seemed to make little discernible difference, while on suburban stretches we found the super-doughy Eco mode suitable for range anxiety emergencies only, adding a potentially make-or-break 14km to the predicted range figure.
On the subject of range, the e-2008 we tested was showing a predicted 318km with a pretty full – but not brimmed – battery and upon our return 90km later was reporting 210km remaining.
The touchscreen’s energy readout said we had averaged a decent 14.7kWh per 100 kilometres, which would translate to a theoretical 340km on a full 50kWh charge.
During our drive, turning the air-conditioning on and off did nothing to the predicted range figure, which also remained stable in all but Eco mode. That said, this was a mild 20-degree day, so we expect energy consumption to be more varied in less comfortable weather conditions.
We did not have the chance to try charging the e-2008 during the launch program but one benefit of the relatively small battery pack is that the so-so 100kW DC rapid charging capability still results in a reasonably short 30-minute top-up time for longer trips.
In terms of the user experience, Peugeot seems to have conceived the e-2008 as similar enough to the petrol equivalent – although more enjoyable in many day-to-day driving scenarios – to make the transition easy for customers.
Down to the grainy reversing camera image, there’s no futuristic stuff going on here; aesthetic modifications are subtle and even the way the e-2008 drives would feel ‘natural’ for those accustomed to the kind of torquey turbo-petrol engines and slick automatic transmissions typical of European cars.
Even boot space also remains identical to the petrol versions at a decent-for-the-segment 434 litres with the 60:40 rear bench in place or 1467L with it folded, although the petrol 2008’s space-saver spare tyre is replaced with a puncture repair kit and charging cables here. There is no frunk.
Rear accommodation is just as cramped as in the petrol 2008 if all passengers are tall, though occasional short trips would be bearable and the second-row quarters are well-appointed enough, with a good view out.
Getting used to charging would be the biggest hurdle for would-be e-2008 owners trading out of a car with an internal combustion engine. And that’s not as hard as many seem to believe it is, especially for those who can plug in at home.
As for the idea of dropping sixty large on this small SUV, we didn’t get that far into our 90-kilometre test drive before we started coming around to the idea – after being steadfastly spec-sheet sceptical.
Our verdict? Don’t dismiss the e-2008 before taking one for a spin.
All car reviews
Click to share