Peugeot e-2008 2021 long-term review
Peugeot promises a style-led standout in both petrol and electric forms. Did each 2008 variant deliver in equal measure?
*Why we ran it: *To see whether Peugeot’s successful formula translates to a small SUV, in petrol then electric forms
-Month 5 - Month 4 - Month 3 - Month 2 - Month 1 - Prices and specs-
-Life with a Peugeot e-2008: Month 5-
*Handsome crossover had started to convince us in three-pot petrol form. Did the pricier electric version seal the deal? - 17 March 2021*
What could – or, more pertinently, would – you buy with £6550? In a quick search of the online classifieds for that exact sum, I found a 1989 BMW 520i, a 2017 Seat Ibiza and a 2011 Nissan Leaf.
Those latter two are particularly relevant to my point, because £6550 is the difference between the 1.2-litre turbo petrol Peugeot 2008 that I ran last year and the electric Peugeot e-2008 that replaced it. I’d choose the Ibiza over the Leaf without a second’s hesitation, but which version of Peugeot’s new mid-sized SUV to take is a harder decision to make.
Before I dive in, though, I must point out some things. First, like many thousands of others whom the government and car makers would like to convert to emissions-free motoring, I’m far from the ideal EV owner. I can’t have a wallbox fitted at home, the nearest rapid charger is 18 miles away and the charger within walking distance of my flat is neither quick nor user-friendly. Thus I never got more than a 50% charge, so my real range figures are educated estimates. Second, I had the e-2008 during the winter freeze, affecting its battery. You can see those as issues of infrastructure and of EV themselves, but with EVs more than with any other type of car, personal circumstances are critical.
I am unashamed to admit that I’ve always in principle been a fan of EVs, thanks to their eco credentials, their strong and smooth acceleration and their unrivalled quietness. That feeling was strengthened by drives in the fantastic Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia e-Niro siblings when they came out in 2018, but the long-term realities highlighted by the e-2008 represented splashes of cold water.
Even so, I vastly preferred driving the e-2008 to the petrol 2008. Unlike its Korean rivals, the Peugeot EV isn’t hilariously eager; it has a sensible 134bhp. Yet torque is strong and, as from any electric motor, instantly available, meaning you really can pin yourself back if you floor it from rest; just not so much when you’re doing 50mph and fancy a snappy overtake.
All the while, it’s quiet and easy to drive, because you’re not forever operating a clutch and stick. Hiss heathen all you want, but really, what fun is there to be had from a numb manual gearbox in a family-focused crossover driving around a city? Engine noise (albeit not a tonally unpleasant one; I rather enjoy the growl of three-pots) and gearbox effort aside, the petrol 2008 just can never be as smooth in its operation.
You also feel the weight difference: the EV is 356kg heavier, meaning the ride in the petrol car feels less planted. The obvious flip side is that it’s far less reluctant to uproot itself when you turn the wheel; you really do sense the extra weight of the EV over the petrol when cornering. The elephant in the room – more like the mammoth, actually – is range. I averaged around 45mpg with the petrol 2008, giving it a range of around 430 miles – or almost four times that which I usually achieved in the much pricier e-2008. And that was despite my constant use of B mode, which strengthens the regenerative braking – something I preferred, not just did out of necessity, as it enabled me to drive largely using the accelerator only.
We can now get away from comparing differences, because the two 2008s are identical inside apart from one dashboard button and the dials on their digital displays. Two displays are standard: a configurable data screen before the driver and an infotainment touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard, angled towards you. The latter looks sharp and is fairly easy to use, but the frequency with which I had to use it got on my nerves. There are two rows of buttons below the touchscreen, but the climate control must be operated via the display.
The 2008 is better in other aspects of practicality, though: the driving seat is comfortable and gives you good all-round visibility; there’s plenty of space for two up front; rear passengers never had complaints; and the boot proved large enough for me to easily move furniture.
The one thing I could never get on with was the steering wheel, which was not only small and rectangular but also had to sit almost in my lap if I were to be able to see the dials. The Kona and e-Niro have regular cockpits as well as far longer ranges, so they win over the e-2008. But the petrol 2008 is a strong contender in the hugely popular petrol crossover class, able to take on the Renault Captur, Nissan Juke and Ford Puma.
Back to my original muse: should you pay £6550 to get an e-2008 over a 2008? You will be shocked to see that my running costs over 530 miles were a mere £10.67; that was from my sole use of an Ionity rapid charger, as the charger I usually used never, erm, charged me, despite me activating it with my debit card. There are also two carrots dangling from the end of Mr Sunak’s stick: road tax exemption and company car tax exemption.
As ever, then, you must decide appropriately for your situation. Which is why I’ve reverted to a petrol car, all the while eyeing EVs charging in neighbours’ driveways, not least a smart Onyx Black e-2008.
Strikingly good looks, easy driving and more dynamism than you might expect for a heavy compact SUV make the e-2008 a fierce contender in this fast-growing segment. That’s so long as the range and frustrating controls don’t put you off.
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*Quietly impressive *EV was smooth and purposeful with its acceleration, it was well refined and its ride was a pleasant surprise.
*Hey good lookin’ *I’m no SUV fan, yet I find the 2008 attractive. And the body-coloured flecks on the EV’s grille look superb.
*Sitting comfortably *I liked the generously bolstered seats in the GT Line. Cool fabric pattern and green stitching, too.
*Haven’t the energy for it *EVs bring benefits, for sure, but a £35,000 car that needs refuelling for hours every 120 miles? Yikes.
*Winter of discontent *The battery suffered from the cold and defrosting the windows always had me waiting, waiting, waiting...
*Final mileage: 2720*
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-Life with a Peugeot e-2008: Month 4-
*Plenty of rear space - 24 February 2020*
I would really like to properly test the e-2008’s practicality, given that it’s a family-focused SUV, but that’s, erm, illegal now. I live alone so am at least allowed to see my parents, and they have complained about neither the amount of passenger space in its front and rear nor the comfort of its ride. The latter is also true for our new friend Bobby, thank god...
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*Cold weather is the enemy - 27 January 2020*
I’m miffed that my part of the UK is one of the few that has had no snow – but I shouldn’t be, because even in mild temperatures, my electric car is by its own admission still averaging a mere 2.5 miles per kWh. And that’s despite me always using ‘B’ mode to take advantage of stronger regen. It makes the efficiency graph’s limit of 120mpkWh look stupid, frankly.
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*e-2008 doesn’t stand out, which is kind of the point - 23 December 2020*
When I say the 2008 and e-2008 are the same but for the powertrain, I do mean it (almost) literally. Seeking any other differences, I found only the ambient lighting defaulting to blue (now the universal colour for ‘look, I’m electric!’) rather than green and a lightning bolt in place of a cog (for settings) on the upper row of shortcut icons. This calls up charging and efficiency data.
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-Life with a Peugeot 2008/e-2008: Month 3-
*Crossover gets into its groove in regular inner-city driving - 25 November 2020*
Absence making the heart grow fonder has always seemed to me a risible proverb; a lame way to make parted lovers feel less miserable, not a recommendation.
However, this cesspit of a year has taught me that it can hold true, for people in particular but also things. Is everyday driving one of them? Definitely: I’ve found myself getting excited about my daily jaunt in the 2008 to take my uncle home (I’ve hired him to decorate my new flat) – shamefully so for a mere 20-minute journey into town and back.
Despite the fact that the ride is jerky at lower speeds, sometimes to an irritating degree on poor surfaces, this seems to be the kind of driving that suits this particular version of Peugeot’s smallest SUV best, thanks to its three-cylinder turbo engine and light steering, which makes it feel surprisingly nimble for its size.
While that steering may be helpful for manoeuvring in confined spaces, it sometimes makes for an unassured feeling on the motorway and doesn’t lend itself to ‘spirited’ driving. The GT Line actually does have a Sport driving mode, but I always leave it in Comfort, because this really seems to change basically nothing.
When I received this 2008 back in July, I spoke of how I was impressed by the look of the i-Cockpit, and I continue to admire Peugeot’s digital dial screen, especially with its new 3D overlay. It has wowed others, too; my uncle once owned a 306 and was amazed to learn that such a thing could be standard in a Peugeot.
However, I simply can’t stand the way the layout forces you to have the steering wheel so low down, nor the fact that the wheel itself is so small. It’s something I got used to after a while, but only in the way that one does a door that sticks or a laptop that takes an age to start; only once it’s replaced do you fully realise. This factor alone would make me hesitant to recommend anyone the 2008 over its Ford Puma rival unless they have taken a test drive and are absolutely sure they like it; apparently many do.
Still, this is one of only two major gripes I’ve found, the other being that you have to adjust the air-con on the touchscreen, which can never be as easy or as safe as twiddling a dial – a complaint that sadly looks set to become as frequent in Autocar as mention of the Nürburgring.
I said ‘major’ because I also have a trivial issue, and it’s one shared by every Peugeot and Citroën I’ve driven lately. When you turn on the radio, it weirdly thinks you would prefer FM to DAB so switches automatically, and the delay between the two transmissions means you hear a few words repeated. It’s enough to make you doubt your sanity.
One thing I believe the PSA Group has definitely got right, though, is its unique electrification strategy, whereby the same model can be had with petrol, diesel or electrified power. I’ve seized this opportunity to swap my 2008 for an e-2008, and it will be fascinating to search for differences between the two, as well as to see if my preference for the smooth, silent, hassle-free driving experience of an electric motor over an engine will diminish as I live with an EV properly for the first time.
I already know that it will have to be impressively efficient to go even some way to making up its £6000 premium in good time, because the Puretech averaged around 45mpg in its time with me, mostly at urban speeds, which isn’t too far from its official combined figure of 50.6mpg.
*Feeling toasty *Now that the cold weather has set in, I’m appreciating the GT Line’s standard heated front seats, which become very hot pleasingly swiftly.
*Don’t distract me *You can turn the air-con on and off using an actual button, but the fan speed, vents and temperature are altered on the touchscreen. Why?
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*Hands-free parking that actually works - 4 November 2020*
I’ll always remember with mirth how a colleague’s Infiniti parallel-parked itself across three bay spaces, but Peugeot’s Semi Auto Park Assist is ace. You select on the screen right or left entry for a parallel or bay space and then, once you’ve indicated, the car steers itself in; a bleep tells you to take back control. For £250, this was worth adding to a bulky car.
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*Making the case for keyless entry - 21 October 2020*
I’ve always liked keyless ignition yet disliked keyless entry, but running a car with the latter has opened my eyes. Especially when I’m carrying stuff, the 2008 simply clicking open as I approach is so helpful, while my main issue with these systems – my distrust of the car actually locking itself – is addressed by a loud bleep once I’ve walked off a few metres.
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-Life with a Peugeot 2008: Month 2-
*Testing capacity to the extreme - 30 September 2020*
I’ve been waiting to move house for months now so have been using the 2008 to pick up ‘things’. I wasn’t confident about a double mattress but, with a bit of a bend, it fitted in the 1467 litres of space you’re given by collapsing the rear seats. And while it poked out enough that I had to secure the tailgate with rope, my rear indicators remained visible.
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*Strike one for French reliability - 9 September 2020*
Heard the one about French cars and electronics? The punchline for me was that, after refuelling, I restarted the 2008 and it presented messages about the active cruise control and lane-keeping, illuminated a spanner icon and set the sat-nav to a nearby Peugeot garage. The front radar panel looked clean and all was fine again when I drove that evening.
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-Life with a Peugeot 2008: Month 1-
*A fleeting return to normality calls for instrument screen experimentation - 19 August 2020*
What are you missing most from your normal life? Meeting people, eating in restaurants, cheering on your football team, going abroad or even just existing without needing to stress about keeping ‘one metre plus’ from others, perhaps. Your commute? Unlikely, but I’m yearning for regular driving nearly as much as those other things. And I miss those terribly.
My normal daily drive is a 140-mile round trip from the Sussex coast to work in Middlesex and back. And it has now been six months since I’ve visited a petrol station, for heaven’s sake. This meant that a reason for a visit to the office (I had run out of material for Autocar’s two archive columns, having gathered back in late February what I thought would be more than enough to outlast the closure…) was received with delight.
Such little opportunity for driving means the 2008 still feels weird to sit in, with its low, oddly shaped little steering wheel, but I know that I must force myself to not endlessly fiddle with the seat and wheel positioning.
What I have been experimenting with is the i-Cockpit screen (only while stationary, I ought to add), which offers several viewing modes, selected via a roller on the wheel. I had used Navigation the last time I had driven, having the sat-nav map as the priority and the speed tucked away to the right. But for a motorway drive I know off by heart, I settled on Dials, which verges on conventional.
Another mode is Driving, which shows a 3D digital model of the 2008 within its lane and highlights either edge in orange if the lane-keeping assistance system detects that you’re straying too far from the centre, before it intervenes with the wheel. I don’t really understand why you would need this, but then I really don’t understand why anyone is unable to hold a car within a lane…
There are also two Personal modes, allowing you to pick what you want to appear on either side of the screen via a menu in the central touchscreen. It took me several minutes to work out that this is how you view the 2008’s self-calculated MPG figure: you have to choose the trip computer as one of the custom viewing modes, else the only efficiency information you’re presented with is predicted range.
Impressive though the i-Cockpit is, I found this frustrating after the beautiful simplicity of the digital/analogue-combination binnacle in my previous long-termer, a Mazda 3.
*Blocky styling *It may be a crossover, but I secretly admire the 2008’s strong lines and careful detailing every time I see it.
*Unnatural feeling *I still really dislike the unusual driving position that Peugeot’s layout forces you to adopt.
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*Peugeot gets the simple pleasures right - 9 August 2020*
My first real chance to experience the 2008 was a 23-mile drive from my home to Beachy Head for a photo shoot, over serpentine country roads with some great corners and sections allowing 60mph. Delightful weather let me make the most of the optional sunroof, but above all, it was a reminder of just how enjoyable driving can be – even in an SUV.
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*Welcoming the 2008 to the fleet - 29 July 2020*
The time has come for us to stop making this sporty car,” announces Jeremy Clarkson in a mock 1990s board meeting. “How is this for a plan: we make terrible cars. In every way horrible.” “Maybe très ugly?” responds James May. “Le engine très horrible?” “Oui oui! Nasty, unreliable, uncomfortable, et l’intérieur fabric en spit et Kleenex!”
This hilarious skit from 2015 was hyperbolic, harsh even, but it illustrated in simple terms how Peugeot had quickly gone from making handsome and engaging cars to, well, the 1007 and 407.
Just a year after that drubbing aired, however, the French marque suddenly reversed its fortunes with the second-generation 3008, then the 5008, and it hasn’t looked back, rolling out cars that are aesthetically innovative and appealing ownership propositions ever since.
The new 2008 I’ve just started to run is a perfect example. Gone is the drab look of the original, replaced by an angular and imposing – but not aggressive – body that’s intriguing to view from every angle. The look shares much with the 208 (which has leapt up the supermini order), as do the mechanicals. Both cars are based on the PSA Group’s youthful CMF platform, offer the same range of engines and are available as EVs.
The 192-mile range, cheaper running costs and relaxing nature of the e-2008 makes it incredibly tempting. Less so the 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel, despite the fact that I’m exactly the sort of person for whom this would be objectively best suited, living 70 miles away from my workplace; a grumbler with only 100bhp just wouldn’t really do.
We’ve opted instead for the midrange version of the 1.2-litre turbo petrol triple, which makes 129bhp and 170lb ft of torque (as opposed to 98bhp in basic models or 151bhp in the expensive GT). As we’ve come to expect of PSA’s Puretech units, this is a peppy and pleasantly smooth performer, plus it promises 50.6mpg.
That’s if the car is fitted with the six-speed manual gearbox, as ours is, rather than the eight-speed automatic. Naturally I was glad to have the former, although disappointed at the rounded-off cube for a gearknob: it just feels odd to hold in a way a ball doesn’t.
I will also have to get used to the unconventional i-Cockpit layout, here in its latest form, as in the 208, with an overlay for the digital instrument display that makes key data appear in 3D. It makes a mass-market compact crossover look like a spaceship inside, admittedly, and I’m sure that Peugeot will wheel out the facts that it has now sold more than five million cars fitted with an i-Cockpit and that customer feedback is mostly positive. But I’ve never managed to enjoy the small, almost rectangular steering wheel, nor having it unnaturally low, almost in my lap. I can raise the wheel to where it feels right, but then it blocks my view of the instruments. Perhaps I’ll feel differently after an extended period of use.
That issue aside, the interior of the 2008 does look fantastic – more befitting of a pricier car, in fact. My car’s metallic Orange Fusion paint is contrasted by black-and-grey faux leather and cloth with lime green stitching, plus a carbonfibre-print dashboard insert, which all looks really smart. Nothing I’ve touched so far has felt cheap or flimsy, and Peugeot has listened to past complaints by adding ‘piano keys’ below the 10.0in infotainment touchscreen. A regiment of buttons sit below a row of touch-sensitive icons – something I normally dislike, but in this case they’re easy to learn and then locate by rote.
The touchscreen itself has high-resolution graphics and large icons and comes with all the features you would expect in a car costing almost £27,000, including satnav, Bluetooth, DAB radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a wireless smartphone tray inside a lidded compartment below. It’s certainly a lot better than that of the original 2008, even if its menus aren’t always obvious and you have to use it to adjust the air conditioning – a common pet peeve. Thankfully, there are buttons to turn off the fan and to bring up the temperature menu.
The other highlights of the GT Line trim’s equipment list are a reversing camera, heated front seats, 18in diamond-cut two-tone alloy wheels, a gloss-black fake diffuser, twin tailpipes, a diamond-black roof, a leather GT steering wheel, full LED headlights and LED daytime-running lights and eight-colour ambient lighting. To that has been added an opening sunroof, adapative cruise control, blindspot monitoring and parking assistance, so there are plenty of features for me to explore.
The signs are all there, then, that the 2008 will continue Peugeot’s run of sparkling form. So much so that I’m looking forward to discovering whether this should be your compact crossover of choice over the Ford Puma and Nissan Juke – both also new members of our fleet.
There’s no doubt that the new 2008 has more visual character than the original, which always sat in a bit of a no man’s land, being too anodyne to stand out yet not competent enough to lead the class objectively. It had its merits: strong, frugal engines and decent ride comfort, but the user-unfriendly touchscreen did it no favours. Peugeot has improved on the latter front at the very least.
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-Peugeot 2008 1.2 Puretech 130 GT Line specification-
*Prices: List price new* £32,915 (after government grant) *List price now* £36,630 (GT Premium, after government grant) *Price as tested* £35,190 (after government grant)
*Options: *Cielo panoramic opening glass roof £750, Vertigo Blue pearlescent paint £725, Drive Assist Pack Plus £300, keyless open and start £300, Active Blind Spot Monitoring £200
*Fuel consumption and range: Official range* 206 miles *Test average* 120 miles (winter) *Test best* 150 miles (winter) *Test worst* 90 miles (winter) *Real-world range* 120 miles (winter) *Battery capacity* 50kWh
*Tech highlights: 0-62mph* 9.0sec *Top speed* 93mph *Engine* synchronous electric motor *Max power* 134bhp *Max torque* 221lb ft *Transmission* 1-speed direct drive *Boot capacity* 311/1106 litres *Wheels* 7.0Jx18in, ‘Bund’ alloy *Tyres* 215/55 R18, Michelin Primacy 4 *Kerb weight* 1548kg
*Service and running costs: Contract hire rate* na *CO2* 0g/km *Service costs* None *Other costs* None *Fuel costs* £10.67 (public charging) *Running costs inc fuel* £10.67 *Cost per mile* 2 pence *Faults* None
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