Peugeot e-308 review

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Peugeot's e-308 aims to raise the benchmark for what a family EV can offer. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.

Ten Second Review

Conventional family hatchbacks that are also full-EVs are thin on the ground, but Peugeot's E-308 hopes to set a trend for them. It comes in hatch and estate forms and aims to establish some fresh standards for the kind of car family EV should be.

Background

Something we haven't seen much in the current explosion of full-electric compact cars are EV versions of conventional family hatchbacks. True, if you're looking at either a Volkswagen ID.3 or a Kia Niro EV, that's essentially what you've got, but both those manufacturers pretend those cars are Crossovers. Here is something much more straightforward, the Peugeot E-308.

In terms of conventional EV family hatches, you could argue that it's the first one we've seen since the Volkswagen e-Golf was discontinued in 2019. Unlike that car, there's more than one body style, an SW estate offered as well as a 5-door hatch. And developed alongside this model with exactly the same 54kWh battery and powertrain are full-electric versions of its close Stellantis Group cousin, the Vauxhall Astra. This 308 was the first of the two cars to market and joins the existing 308 Hybrid Plug-in model for those wanting to make a more eco-minded choice in this segment.

Driving Experience

Peugeot's latest 54kWh battery is being rolled out across its EVs at present and of course features here. It incorporates a more sophisticated chemical composition which makes possible a Volkswagen ID.3-rivalling 257 mile range figure. This battery powers a front axle-mounted 156bhp motor which will get you to 62mph from rest in about 8 seconds. That's provided you engage most focused of the three available drive modes - 'Sport'; the others are 'Normal' and 'Eco'.

Thanks to Peugeot's usual (but unusual) 'i-Cockpit' driving position, which sees a dinky little steering wheel that's ideal for wrist-flick manoeuvres. As usual in an EV, its central lower down positioning minimises the downside by lowering the centre of gravity. There are no steering wheel paddles to alter brake regeneration, but Peugeot does provide a selectable 'Brake' button which ups energy harvesting to the point where you'll hardly ever need to use the actual brake pedal when you come off the throttle.

What about autonomous drive technology? After all, a car of this kind these days isn't quite complete without it. To satisfy this need, the French maker is offering its 'Peugeot Drive Assist 2.0' set-up. Previously, Stellantis Group tech relied on stop-and-go cruise control and lane-keep assist, but this evolved set-up can now automatically adapt the speed of the car around corners.

Design and Build

The 308 was the first Stellantis Group model to be offered with combustion, Plug-in Hybrid or pure electric power. Either way, beyond different badgework, visual differentiations designating the various powertrains used are few. So, as an EV customer, you'll need a rival Volkswagen ID.3 if you want to make more of an eco-statement to the neighbours. Unless you think that this third generation 308's sharky styling already makes enough of a statement, eye-catching in both hatch and SW estate body styles. There are slim LED headlights complemented by Peugeot's fang-like LED daytime running lights. At the rear, there are tail lights with three 'claw' style lighting elements. 

And inside? Well if you thought the exterior was interesting, take a look in the cabin, virtually unaltered for this E-308. Peugeot's usual i-Cockpit layout with its small steering wheel sits beneath a digital instrument panel, with clever 3D image tech borrowed from the brand's smaller 208 supermini. The tall, sloping dashboard features a sharp-looking 10-inch touchscreen display which has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity and offers widescreen navigation from TomTom. Beneath this monitor is a row of freely configurable touch-sensitive controls, called 'i-Toggles'. Each one offers a shortcut to a major function, such as radio, climate control or 'phone.

Out back, the relatively lengthy wheelbase makes the rear cabin feel quite spacious by class standards. And (unlike with the Plug-in Hybrid 308) boot space isn't compromised by the battery installation, for the hatch rated at the usual 412-litres, better than most class rivals. If you want more, you'll need the alternative SW estate.

Market and Model

Expect an asking price from around £40,000 for this E-308 in hatch form and you won't be too far out: there's a premium of around £1,200 more for the SW estate version. In other words, just a bit more than you'd pay for the Plug-in Hybrid variant. Expect the usual 'Allure' and 'GT' trim levels, plus an initial 'First Edition' derivative.

As you'd hope for the sums being asked, even base 'Allure'-spec is qell equipped, including tinted rear windows, 18-inch 'Ottawa' alloy wheels and a chrome grille with a high-gloss black rear panel with chrome trim. Inside, 'Allure' models offer heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. 'Allure' variants also feature a reversing camera, 3D Connected Navigation and natural voice recognition. The E-308 also comes as standard with the latest safety and driver assistance technology, including autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.

'GT' models add Full Matrix LED Technology headlights with 3D LED tail lights, a GT-specific grille pattern, widened side sills for a more aggressive stance and the PEUGEOT shield on the front wings. Inside, 'GT' models benefit from Alcantara seats with adamite coloured stitching, embossed aluminium trim on the dashboard and door panels, eight-colour ambient lighting and aluminium door sills and pedals. 'GT' models also add front parking sensors and a 3D digital instrument cluster.

Cost of Ownership

We gave you the 257 mile range figure in our 'Driving' section: to get near to that, you'll have to make frequent use of the provided 'Brake' button, which will increase the aggressiveness of the brake regeneration system, so recovering more energy back to the 51kWh battery. That battery features a new chemical composition comprising 80% nickel, 10% manganese and 10% cobalt, all of which improves efficiency. As do low friction tyres, aero wheel designs and a subtle aero-style EV makeover. Which allows this E-308 to run at a claimed 12.7kWh for 62 miles. Peugeot claims that this is 'a benchmark amongst EVs in the C-segment'.

With an onboard three-phase 11 kW charger included as standard, drivers can complete a full charge in 7 hours 20minutes from a 7.4kW home wallbox - or 5 hours 46 minutes from a 22kW accelerated public charger. The brand claims a recharge rate from 20 to 80% in 28 minutes using a 100kW charger. Via the 'MyPeugeot' smartphone app or by using the vehicle's touchscreen, owners can schedule a wake-up time for the battery. This means that the cells can be at the optimal temperature for efficiency from the time you start up, plus of course the interior can also be pre-cooled or pre-heated too. Owners can opt to purchase a single service plan to cover all essential maintenance. Service intervals are every year or 20,000 miles. And with the E-308 EV, you'll be given a certificate of battery capacity after each service; the 54kWh battery comes with an eight year / 100,000 warranty for 70% of its capacity.

Summary

Peugeot calls the E-308 'a benchmark car in its segment'. You might previously have seen the Volkswagen ID.3 in that light; well now, if you want a model of this size and don't particularly fancy one with a Crossover vibe, this Peugeot needs to be high on your list in terms of cars to try. Whether you ultimately choose an E-308 will have a lot to do with whether you like its sharky looks and its unusual 'i-Cockpit' driving position. But if you do, then there's certainly nothing else in the segment quite like it.

We're perhaps most tempted by the SW version, the first European-built EV estate in the class, which manages to combine a bit of style with the sensibility you want from an EV and the practicality you'll need from a station wagon. But either way, this is the kind of family hatch-sector model we're all going to have to get used to in the coming years. On this evidence, the transition to that new era might be easier than expected.

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