We were only given a few laps of a short loop on Peugeot’s La Ferte Vidame test track 80 miles or so out of Paris, but it was enough to give us a fair impression of what to expect. To add interest, Peugeot had also brought along a VW e-Golf and a Hyundai Kona Electric for comparison.
Moving off is as simple as you’d expect from an electric car – prod the ignition switch, push the button marked ‘D’ and away you go, accompanied by the very slightest of whirrs. The first big surprise is that Peugeot doesn’t have the instant and muscular low down punch you expect from an electric motor. The 136bhp motor delivers brisk rather than truly quick acceleration, the 2008 feeling far less responsive than the assembled rivals, even with its Sport mode dialled in. Yet it’s impressively refined, with wind and road noise well suppressed, even as the Peugeot tops 100mph. The more powerful regenerative brake function is effective too, slowing the car strongly enough that the brake pedal needn’t be used most of the time.
Through the corners the 2008 felt by the far the most planted of the three, a corollary of the batteries being placed low and fairly centrally in the e-CMP platform. Where the Golf in particular felt a little flighty, it’s narrow, low rolling resistance tyres quickly overwhelmed by the torque, the Peugeot felt totally composed. It’s not exactly engaging, but there’s decent steering weight, a low roll stance and more than enough grip. The torque vectoring system is effective too, keeping understeer in check without that feeling that the little dabs on the brakes aren’t slowing the car unnecessarily. And while the relatively smooth surface made proper assessment of the ride difficult, the Peugeot’s suspension was quiet with an underlying suppleness that suggested comfort was the order of the day.
Another highlight is the interior, which is several step changes ahead of the old 2008 for style and quality. With the disguise peeled back you could see the satin finish switchgear and 10-inch infotainment screen that ‘floats’ on top of the dashboard. The materials that were finished also has a pleasant look and feel, easily good enough to back up Peugeot’s claim to deliver the best ‘mainstream premium’ experience. Yet the highlight is the configurable 3D effect TFT instrument cluster.
It’s also more spacious than before, that extra width and length being put to good use, particularly in the back, where there’s more head and legroom. And while no official figures have been revealed the boot looks more commodious too.