Palace revolution at Peugeot: for the first time in its history the best-seller of the Lion brand will be offered in 100% electric … The opportunity to put the 208 and the e-208 face to face, the symbol of a new automotive era?

Carlos Tavares – the all-powerful president of the PSA group (Peugeot / Citroën / DS) – never fails to remind people: for him going into 100% electric is an economic aberration which risks endangering traditional manufacturers.

No wonder then that at a time when more and more competitors are designing specific models for the electric Peugeot is content to offer an electrified version of the new 208.

The trick? Having designed a variant of the new CMP platform that the 208 shares with the DS3 Crossback: the e-CMP. Dedicated, therefore, to the e-208 and the DS3 Crossback e-tense, it uses the same architecture redesigned to house the electric powertrain instead of the thermal.

Extract from TURBO broadcast of 06/10/2019

Advantage: the cost is lower than to develop a specific electric model such as the Renault ZOE or Volkswagen’s all-new ID3, and thus ensure a smooth transition without destabilizing the regulars of the brand.

Disadvantage: by using a slightly modified classic chassis structure, it is not optimized for electric. This prohibits, as initiated by Tesla and becomes a benchmark, the positioning of a huge flat battery on the underside of the chassis.

On the e-CMP battery packs are placed anarchically where there is space right to left. Autonomy, in particular, is penalized.

So is Peugeot right to play it safe by betting that, as the figures show, the electric does not appeal to the general public? Or is it falling behind on the market of the future through excess of conservatism? Only the future, and especially the customers, will say it …

Peugeot 208 or e-208, which one to choose? 8

Copy (not) carbon!

Therefore difficult to distinguish an e-208 from a 208 when they are placed side by side. Only a careful glance will notice the small blue “e” stuck on the rear pillars, the specific rims, the personalized grille patterns, and… the absence of an exhaust!

But are they as identical as that? Is an e-208 still a 208, and what is it worth against traditional versions? For the knowledge, we tested both, on the roads of Portugal.

Peugeot 208 or e-208, which one to choose? 9

“Cable Car”

On my right e-208, 100% electric, 136 hp. To my left, which comes closest to it, a 208 1.2l Puretech with its small (but beefy) 3-cylinder Turbo which displays 130 hp and low consumption.

But from the outset, a point of adjustment is necessary: ​​as much as the new 208 in our test was strictly standard, so far the e-208 are still in the pre-production phase. We were thus warned in particular that the displays were not necessarily a reflection of reality. Our impressions will therefore be taken with a grain of salt and will require a repeat exercise when the e-208s are finalized.

To establish a benchmark I start by getting behind the wheel of the 208 petrol. Already seduced by the exterior design of Peugeot’s new compact, for me the most successful descendant of the 205, I am almost as much in the cabin. The materials are of quality, the look sober and elegant, the only fault is to my taste this fashion at Peugeot height meters which I will never do. On the other hand, immediate crush for the display of these same counters, in relief ! It’s super well done and not at all disturbing as this type of visual effect often is. We never tire of it, even while driving.

One press on the “Start” button and let’s go. Immediately we revel revs, the 3 cylinders have the particularity of offering an incredible sound, much more fun than that of the four cylinders. With little airs of the Flat-6 of the 911… On a 208 it’s flattering! And it’s not just the show off, the small block 1.2l THP 130 ch that we know well because it already equips many other vehicles of the group is still surprising.

Producing 130 hp from a tiny 3-cylinder is in itself pretty impressive, but you have to feel the vigor of its acceleration to believe it ! The size of the 208 suits him perfectly and if we disregard the recovery on the rather soft motorway, for the rest it gives an unexpected dynamism to the little Peugeot.

Add to this that although the suspension settings are more flexible than on the previous ones, the 208 retains its rigorous character and fun to drive.

Peugeot 208 or e-208, which one to choose? 10

War lightning?

Under these conditions, with the weight of the batteries in addition and a distribution of the different masses, one wonders if the electric can keep the character of the classic versions.

First part of the answer, and it is surprising: the e-208 buries all other engines under acceleration ! 8.1 s for 0 to 100 km / h! Add the powerful torque effect of electric motors, vigorous pick-ups, and even our 130hp THP looks pale next to it. It makes up for it with the top speed which peaks at 150 km / h on the e-208, but given that at this speed we are already very largely outlawed in our country, this is not necessarily a problem.

There we say to ourselves that our convictions will shatter and that like a Tesla, the electric becomes attractive. It was without counting THE fault of the e-208, its autonomy. As I wrote above this is the problem of a non-dedicated architecture, with 340 km (WLTP standard closer to reality than the old NEDC) of autonomy, and which according to our observations during this test tends to melt like snow in the sun with sporty driving.

To check all the same with a more normal driving and with a version completely of series. However, even by focusing on manufacturer data, this confines the e-208 to urban and extra-urban journeys, especially since Peugeot does not have, as is the case with Tesla,a unified and extensive fast charging network. Because you have to count 16h to recharge it on a classic socket, 8h on a classic “wallbox” and 30 minutes for 80% of the recharge on a compatible supercharger (which are rare).