There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to fly slightly under-the-radar, but I’m always a tiny bit suspicious of electric cars that share their body with combustion engined equivalents because generally it means that they can’t take full advantage of the space you can use if you don’t have a version with an engine. There are inevitably compromises, and compromise is an awfully boring word. But at least the e308 looks really rather nice.
The e308 comes in hatchback or estate versions (which Peugeot calls ‘SW’ - station wagon), and shares its major components with the Vauxhall Astra electric.
To make them look as different as possible, the 308 has the same heading-into-warp-speed grille as the new e-3008 and it’s blanked off for the electric version, with the actual air-inlets down on the bottom of the bumper. There’s also fang-like lights in the front that spear down from the small LED headlamps.
A little crease at the bottom of the door might look like someone’s driven to near a fence post but it adds a little interest at the side and there are 18-inch handsome alloys.
It’s nicely handsome, quite distinctive, but not ‘look-at-me!’. Which may be just what some buyers want.
Battery, range and charging
Underneath is a 54kWh battery with just under 51kWh of usable capacity. Even though it sounds like the same battery as in previous Peugeot electric cars, it’s actually all-new with Peugeot’s next-generation chemistry, which has more efficient cells. It should manage 248 miles of range according to the official figures. Which is pretty good from that size of battery, but 10 miles down on the Astra Electric.
These more efficient batteries are being distributed across all of Peugeot’s next-gen cars (as well as the rest of the parent company Stellantis’ other brands) so we’re looking forward to a bit of an uptick in real-world ranges.
The maximum charge rate is 100kW which is acceptable but not special in this class, but it’s a small battery, so 10-80% on a 100kW charger would take 28 minutes.
On an AC charger it will accept 11kW as standard, so they’d take five and a half hours flat-to-full. That’s also 8 hrs 15mins flat-to-full on a standard home wallbox at the usual 7.2kW.
Interior, equipment and practicality
Inside the e308 you’re immediately confronted by the 10-inch ‘i-Cockpit’ central screen, which in the e308 is positioned a bit higher so that it’s more in the driver’s eyeline. There’s a smaller steering wheel than in rivals too, so you can see everything - which annoys some people as they don’t know whether to look through or over.
Then there’s a driver’s information screen up in front of the driver and an e-Toggle down in the centre console for selecting gears.
It’s spacious enough and easy to get comfortable, and thankfully the quality and style are good enough to lift in above the cheaper Chinese competition.
You can’t get the base ‘Active Premium’ trim as an e-308 - that’s reserved for petrol and diesel - but you can get Allure, Allure Premium, GT and First Edition.
All e308s get the i-Cockpit, LED lights, tri-material seats, plenty of charge ports - including two in the back - and a colour reversing camera. Though I can’t remember the last time I saw a black and white one.
All electric models get a heated wheel and heated seats, but you don’t get wireless CarPlay/Android auto until you go up a grade from the base. And the other versions get more assist functions and more parking sensors and all that good stuff. It has to be said, the GT version looks a bit meaner with some darker chrome bits… but you pay for it.
Unlike many electric cars the Peugeot is front wheel drive only, which means there’s no surprises for drivers used to hatchbacks like this. Looking at the figures you might assume there’s no fun to be had either. The maximum output of the motor is 156bhp, which gives a 0-62mph in 9.8 seconds with sounds very ‘relaxed’, especially when the key rivals in this sector have 200bhp.
In the usual everyday driving situations it’s actually a little worse. There are three driving modes: Sport, Normal and Eco. Only in the Sport mode do you get the full 156bhp. In the Normal setting it’s 136bhp and Eco limits it to 109bhp, while also limiting the heating and air-con. If you floor the throttle pedal it will give you the full beans though.
Occasionally the e308 does feel slow, especially up long motorway inclines or when pulling onto a motorway. But it makes up for this by being good fun around the corners.
As you sit low in the e308 you naturally feel closer to the road than you do in an SUV on one of the tall-riding rivals. The smaller battery also means it is lighter and more nimble.
It deals with lumps and bumps well too, and this smaller steering wheel means it feels much sportier than you might expect. It makes you want to have fun.
Prices and specification
Brace yourself. This is the area where the argument for the e308 falls apart. The prices start at a whopping £40,050 – not much less than a Tesla Model 3. The top GT is £42,250. Gulp.
There’s also competition from lots of other SUV-shaped directions. Hyundai’s new Kona, the Kia Niro Electric - that sort of thing. And then if you’re a speed demon there’s the MG4 XPower for £36,495 - or the MG with the same price but a 300+ mile range. All of them have a substantially better warranty than the Peugeot’s miserly three years too.
That will make it a difficult sell – but expect the panic to set in and the company to start offering keen finance deals soon. That would help the company car drivers who have to pay tax based on the list price though.
The e308 is handsome and surprisingly good to drive, despite the lack of power. Plus, it’s pretty efficient and spacious enough for a family. But I’m not sure it has that ‘I want it’ unique selling point that makes you sign on the dotted line.
It makes it feel like the e308 might be slightly late to the party, and the steep price had us double checking to make sure it wasn’t listed in Vietnamese Dong by mistake. This is a perfectly pleasant car, but it’s going to struggle to get noticed.