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Car Review

Peugeot e-308 review

£39,845 - £42,045
710
Published: 19 Dec 2023
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An electric car that behaves like a good old-fashioned hatchback. We rather like that

Good stuff

Stylishly dramatic looks, decent to drive, refreshingly normal

Bad stuff

Expensive, lags behind rivals on pace

Overview

What is it?

A throwback, that’s what. Sure, you’re looking at an electric car with a range figure of 250 miles and fast charging ability in under 30 minutes. Yet there’s also something wonderfully old-school about it.

It’s nearly a decade since Volkswagen launched the likeable e-Golf. The recipe was simple: take one of the most satisfying slices of ‘normal car’ in the business, gut out its engine, gearbox and fuel tank, then replace them with a battery, motor and a charge port.

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Like all the simplest recipes, its end product was refreshingly palatable. Sure, the e-Golf’s range figure was half what we’ve now come to expect from a mainstream EV and the charging was far from brisk. But the heyday of WWE had nothing on the melee to grab the keys each night in the Top Gear office, as we all clamoured for a commute that would calm our senses and ease our conscience in one fell swoop.

But this is a Peugeot…

You’re right. But it feels like a distant cousin of that e-Golf. See, almost every mainstream EV that’s launched since that VW has been bigger, heavier and just downright more dramatic. Barely a day goes by without a new car – often from a new car brand – launching with a behemoth battery to feed 1,000bhp motors and a monstrous 0-62mph time. It’ll usually be an SUV and there’s a reasonable chance it’ll have ridiculous doors or a touchscreen so large the TV licence people come sniffing around.

The Peugeot e-308 is demonstrably none of those things. It’s a regular hatchback that’s effectively had its ICE powertrain stripped out and replaced by electric. It’s a big step on from that Golf – as you’d blooming well hope – but its reason for being is basically the same. To be the EV for people who are a bit timid about buying one.

There’s no leap of faith needed here, beyond perhaps signing the lease deal for a car whose RRP begins at £40,000. But if you're on a company car plan and need something for family life, you'll be laughing.

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Big money. What does it buy?

The stock 308 is a classier thing than ever, and a good place to start. In place of a small, turbocharged engine is 51kWh of useable battery and a 154bhp motor, the latter powering the front axle for 0-62mph in 9.8 seconds and a top speed of 106mph, while its official range figure is 236 to 267 miles.

It's quite a slow car in comparison with rivals, which is odd because think ‘£40k Peugeot hatchback’ a few years ago and your mind might have conjured up a seriously tricked-out hot hatch whose damping was lubricated by Ari Vatanen’s tears, not a car that’s close to hitting sixty in double figures. Especially given EVs are now almost notorious for their neck-snapping pace.

But – and this is strictly between us – it’s actually quite nice being in something so relaxed. A return to the plush days of posh, almost insouciant French cars, even if Peugeot is trying to stand proud of the rest of the sprawling Stellantis group by offering something at least a little sportier.

The problem for the e-308, of course, is that very few buyers will choose a car because it’s slow. And for a few grand less, the Chinese will sell you the MG4 XPower with its whopping 429bhp, 3.8s 0-62mph time and 239-mile range. That’s before we’ve even told you the basic MG4 is even more fun and can be had for two-thirds of the e-308’s price tag. Crikey.

Thanks for the tip. Any others I should look at?

Oh, tonnes. You can't go wrong with the Renault Megane E-Tech Electric, if you can get on board with something crossover-y. Vauxhall's sister car to the e-308 is the Astra Electric. Immune to tech-based rage? Check out the VW ID.3 and punchier Cupra Born

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

This pleasingly plain Peugeot is about as approachable as a cutting-edge electric car gets

Compare the e-308 with its rivals on paper, most notably that pesky MG4, and it gets a pasting. But for anyone dead set on an EV but keen to avoid discombobulating tech or the bulk of an enormous crossover, this pleasingly plain Peugeot is about as approachable as a cutting-edge electric car gets. All while feeling rather premium, too.

It’s not cheap, but it’s decent enough to warrant a place on any self-respecting shortlist. While numerous other EVs feel built for a short-term leasing hit, we suspect there’s a slower burn in choosing this.

The Rivals

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