By Sam Charlwood, carsales.com.au
Peugeot is struggling to find its place on the Australian new car landscape. The French brand, renowned for creating some of the most playful hot hatches and comfortable sedans, has fallen into the shadows as consumers moved away from conventional machines to SUVs as the default choice for Aussie families.
It has joined the trendsetters and tried to play on its European heritage as an alternative to established German luxury rivals by trading on a mix of Parisian style and high specifications. But it hasn’t gained much traction.
Now, Peugeot hopes to gain attention for moving quickly into the new era of electric cars with the arrival of its first battery-electric passenger vehicle, the e-2008 compact SUV.
The urban runabout has launched just weeks after the company’s e-Partner light commercial van, with Peugeot promising it offers consumers something different, mixing unique design elements and practicality with thrifty real-world EV efficiency.
So, let’s find out if it delivers…
The 2023 Peugeot e-2008 arrives in Australian showrooms at a time when it has already been superseded in Europe by a facelifted model, indicating that early adopters may be left short-changed within the next 12 months by a car that offers a bigger battery and an extended driving range.
Either way, they will have to fork out a fair chunk of cash to get into the e-2008, which is offered in a single specification that costs from $59,990 plus on-roads, or $65,455 drive-away.
The price tag means the electrified version commands a $16k premium over the most expensive model with an internal combustion engine, the 2008 GT that’s priced from $42,397 (plus ORCs).
Peugeot Australia originally indicated the e-2008 would be limited in allocation, however company officials have told carsales they have enough supply to match demand this month.
Peugeot Australia says its strategy was always to launch with the pre-facelift model. It plans to introduce the updated version “sometime in 2024”.
As Australia slowly adapts to electric vehicles, direct alternatives to the e-2008 are still relatively thin on the ground. There’s the new Hyundai Kona Electric fast approaching, and the related Kia Niro EV is already available from $66,590 plus on-road costs.
At the entry level of the market there’s the BYD Atto 3 (from $48,011 plus ORCs) and MG ZS EV (from $47,337 drive-away), while at the other end of the scale, our reigning carsales Car of the Year, the Kia EV6, is another potential rival with prices beginning at $72,590 plus ORCs.
Full of goodies
Peugeot has jammed the e-2008 with every filling on the table.
Like the GT trim level, the generous list of standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry with push-button start and proximity locking, heated front seats, power-adjustable driver’s seat with massage function, gloss-black trim, adaptive LED headlights and ‘triple claw’ rear LED taillights.
The $60K-plus purchase price, however, doesn’t get you a powered tailgate.
There are six different paint colours to choose from with Orange Fusion the only no-cost option, as the remaining metallic and premium options add $690 and $1050 respectively.
The Peugeot e-2008 is covered by a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty in Australia. A separate eight-year/160,000km fixture covers the e-2008’s battery.
A five-year service plan for the e-2008 will set buyers back $1000, according to Peugeot Australia – almost half the price of an internal-combustion 2008.
What’s more, servicing is set at generous 12-month/25,000km intervals.
Helping to justify its price, Peugeot has also included a comprehensive suite of advanced safety features as standard equipment in the e-2008.
On top of protecting its occupants with six airbags, it has autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection, forward collision warning, multi-collision braking, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go function, traffic sign recognition, driver attention alert, lane departure warning and blind spot detection.
Additionally, there’s an acoustic system that generates sound at low speeds for pedestrian safety.
The Peugeot e-2008 doesn’t carry an official ANCAP safety rating, however the regular 2008 was awarded a five-star score back in 2019. Note that the testing protocols back then were much less stringent than they are today.
The Peugeot e-2008’s digital technology extends beyond safety and into the cockpit with a twin screen set-up that takes care of the infotainment and replaces traditional dials in the instrument cluster.
The 10-inch touch screen display sits on top of the dashboard and incorporates DAB+ digital radio, sat nav and smartphone mirroring for Apple and Android mobile devices. It is accompanied by a bank of piano keys and hard-wired switchgear underneath it.
Curiously, the e-2008 misses out on wireless phone charging but covers most other bases where technology is concerned and is supported by a separate 10-inch digital instrument cluster with a head-up display on the windscreen.
Along with its new technology, the cabin of the e-2008 offers a pleasant upmarket vibe headlined by premium materials and swish displays.
The Spanish-built soft roader feels refined and beautifully built, with no squeaks or rattles on our test car, and presents its occupants with a host of unique design touches.
The e-2008 persists with Peugeot’s much-vaunted i-Cockpit display, which combines a tiny, low-set steering wheel and high-set instrumentation that it claims improves vision for the driver by reducing the time it takes to re-focus on a conventional instrument cluster.
It sounds nice in theory, but, in reality, the ergonomics just don’t feel right to this writer; the wheel inadvertently obstructs some of the instrumentation and can never be positioned high enough to really cultivate that ‘in-the-car’ feeling.
Rather, you often feel like you’re sitting on top of it, with the steering wheel in your lap.
Still, there is excellent vision through the extensive glasshouse and the comfortable front seats have plenty of adjustment to suit most drivers.
We do appreciate the bank of hard-wired buttons and switchgear beneath the centre touch screen, offering relatively easy access to adjust functions like the climate control while on the move and eliminate the need to dig through touch-screen sub-menus.
The rest of the infotainment is heavily screen-biased in its operation.
As for the rest of the package, the e-2008 offers roomy door pockets and cupholders large enough for 1L bottles but it lacks storage for smaller items like your wallet.
Because the e-2008 is adapted from a conventional petrol-powered vehicle, it maintains a physical transmission tunnel as part of its structure. As such, the second row offers moderate room for little ones or a couple of adults on short journeys, with separate power outlets but no rear air vents. ISOFIX attachment points on the outbound pews combine with three top-tether strap points for child restraints.
At the rear, the boot provides 434-litres of cargo carrying capacity, which extends to 1467L with the 60/40-split folding rear seats stowed.
Unlike the regular Peugeot 2008, which is fitted with a space-saver spare tyre, the e-2008 has a tyre inflation kit (on account of batteries fitted underneath).
The 2023 Peugeot e-2008 is powered by a 100kW/260Nm electric motor fed by a 50kWh lithium-ion battery pack, a modest set-up considering many EV batteries are now approaching double that capacity.
In terms of recharging, Peugeot says the e-2008’s battery can be fast-charged from 0-80 per cent in around 30 minutes when using DC power. Maximum charging capacity is rated at 100kW, which is down against segment leaders.
Hook it up to an 11kW AC wall box and the downtime is increased, charging from empty to 100 per cent in about five hours, or 7.5h at 7.4kW.
Based on Peugeot’s specific e-CMP platform, the e-2008 rides on a pseudo-MacPherson strut front suspension configuration with a deformable cross member arrangement at the rear.
Whereas regular ICE versions of the 2008 list a 1200kg braked towing capacity, Peugeot says the e-2008 isn’t compatible with towing.
The carmaker claims the 2023 Peugeot e-2008 will travel 328km on a single charge using the WLTP method.
We found that claim to be largely achievable based on our very short preliminary drive, with a predicted range of 322km upon setting off, and roughly 250km of range remaining after a circa 70km drive loop.
It is worth noting the facelifted version of the e-2008 launched in Europe offers an increased battery capacity of 54kWh plus a superior 115kW of power, combining to yield both an increase in performance and a better 406km effective range.
Like the brand itself, the Peugeot e-2008 delivers a rather forgettable driving experience.
During our brief road test, it was immediately obvious that Peugeot’s first dedicated electric SUV in Australia has been tuned to suit European roads more than ours.
It is serenely quiet and supple on billiard-table-smooth roads and at highway speeds, and the light steering makes it effortless to manoeuvre around town.
But that’s about where the plaudits end for the e-2008’s dynamic character. Put simply, the 2008 EV simply doesn’t cut the mustard from a dynamic standpoint, afflicted by poor body control and excessive roll partly due to its slabby 1.6-tonne kerb weight.
The electric drivetrain is blunted by its weight, struggling for motivation when brisk overtaking moves are required and offering languid progress out of slower corners.
Additionally, the brake pedal action is long and inconsistent – a simple yet annoying gripe that takes us back to EVs from 10 years ago. What’s more, a lack of regenerative braking paddles means the e-2008 lacks the on-the-go braking adjustment of its contemporaries (fitted only with a solitary ‘B’ mode, which is quite aggressive).
The combined result of these features on pockmarked surfaces commensurate with much of Australia’s road network is a ride that feels inherently busy, with thudding and occasional jolting over obstacles combined with a tendency for the rear to skip through mid-corner bumps.
From a handling perspective, the chassis never quite settles through faster corners either. It lacks control and feels disjointed from the driver’s seat, characteristics that are certainly not in keeping with the e-2008’s $60K sticker price.
Compared with the delightful three-cylinder thrum and inherent lightness of the regular petrol-powered 2008, the e-2008 feels comparatively heavy and lacks the balance that Peugeot has become renowned for.
Peugeot is certainly not alone with this transition to electric technology, but in our minds the EV doesn’t match the petrol-powered 2008 from a handling standpoint, or in other areas such as ease of use.
And despite the reputation that EVs accelerate harder than conventional versions, the e-2008 isn’t that much quicker than the three-pot petrol models when launching from a standstill to 100km/h (9.3sec for the ICE version, 9.0sec for the EV).
If you specifically want a battery-powered French SUV, then the Peugeot e-2008 is you’re only option at the moment.
In our minds, there are better choices to be made for EV enthusiasts than the 2023 Peugeot e-2008, especially considering its $65,000 sticker price once on-road costs are factored in.
Moreover, the regular petrol-powered Peugeot 2008 is a more convincing package, with additional range (albeit laced with CO2 tailpipe emissions), lighter dynamics and a much cheaper purchase price.
Yes, the progression to electric vehicles is inevitable. But the e-2008 has quite a few wrinkles that need ironing out.
2023 Peugeot e-2008 at a glance:
Editor’s Rating: 6.5/10
$59,990 (plus on-road costs)
Single permanent magnet synchronous motor
Single-speed reduction gear
Disclaimer: Images supplied by Stellantis Australia.
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