Why the Peugeot e-208 won: It looks great, performs strongly, is fun to drive and is well priced for an EV, plus it has enough range to quell anxiety.
The e-208 is just one of the winners in this year’s Britain’s Best Car Awards – see the full list here.
The Peugeot e-208 wins its category by showing how comparatively simply users of regular cars should be able to adapt to electric motoring in the future. Also for bringing with it the driving and beauty standards from the upper echelon of the fiercely fought supermini market.
While other electric car makers are launching oversized, overpriced offerings into the premium market or excusing themselves from providing decent ranges in superminis by insisting “it’s a city car”, Peugeot has made a 4.0m hatchback that’s as well packaged as its piston-driven siblings and offers a decent official range of 217 miles.
Peugeot isn’t quite the first to do this; that was Renault a few years ago with the Zoe. But on dynamic, refinement and aesthetic grounds, the new e-208 is certainly the better effort. It should be, mind, given that it’s seven years younger.
The e-208 is a great-looking car enhanced, if anything, over its brothers by having a slightly wider rear track and a smart set of wheel-arch extensions. Its interior is invitingly premium and offers a refreshingly different iteration of Peugeot’s radical i-Cockpit design. The high instrument binnacle and low steering wheel work well here, and that wheel’s small diameter makes the e-208 quick and easy to manoeuvre at low speeds.
Performance is strong off the mark, although the car does its best work below 55mph. It will sit at 70mph easily enough – and admirably quietly – but such sustained cruising shortens the range. Luckily, the e-208 can be specified (for just £300) to accept 100kW charging with the potential to take it from empty to 80% in barely half an hour.
The e-208’s on-road capability also plays a large part in reassuring first-time electric car buyers. It has a surprisingly cosseting suspension that provides almost premium-level refinement (including low wind and road noise) even when pressed quite hard. Its shock-absorbing may be overpowered, but electric cars are overwhelmingly driven at moderate speeds to conserve range, so 90% of owners are never going to notice.
The Vauxhall Corsa-e uses the same underpinnings and powertrain, but there’s a marked difference in ride quality in favour of the e-208. And although its understeer-only handling makes its extra 300kg over the regular 208 obvious, it still feels stable, safe and easy to handle in tight situations. Visibility is good, too, even though the i-Cockpit encourages the driver to sit as low as possible.
What makes the Peugeot e-208 the best electric car on sale today is the fact that the conventional Peugeot 208 is such an easy car to like in the first place.
It’s a fine-looking, fine-feeling and fine-driving supermini and a worthy European Car of the Year winner for 2020. And the fact is that you can get all that’s good about it with internally combusted petrol or diesel or good-value, non-weird electric propulsion.