New Hyundai Kona Electric & Peugeot e-2008 vs Smart #1

Has our current favourite small electric SUV, the Smart #1, met its match in new rivals from Hyundai and Peugeot? Let’s find out...

New Hyundai Kona Electric and Peugeot e-2008 vs Smart #1 fronts

The contenders

NEW Hyundai Kona Electric 65kWh Advance

List price £38,595
Target Price £37,744

In fully electric form, the latest iteration of the Kona improves on its predecessor’s already impressive official range and seeks to address some shortcomings

NEW Peugeot e-2008 Allure

List price £38,500
Target Price £36,717

As part of a refresh, the electric version of Peugeot’s small SUV gets a bit more power and a larger battery, but its official range (250 miles) is the shortest in this test

Smart #1 Premium

List price £38,950
Target Price £38,950

Our current favourite small electric SUV combines a smart, spacious interior with punchy performance, a competitive range and fast charging capability

Elsewhere on the What Car? website, you can find a list of the longest-range electric vehicles (EVs) on sale. All of these models can officially travel for at least 300 miles between charges – but they’re also all very pricey.

Hyundai Kona Electric rear cornering

The Hyundai Kona Electric may not qualify for that top 10 list in 2024, but it remains one of the very few sub-£40k EVs to offer an official range of 300 miles plus. Equipped with the larger of the two batteries on offer (now with a 65.4kWh usable capacity), the latest iteration’s official range is an impressive 319 miles. The new model also promises to resolve some of the original’s shortcomings (which included an unsettled ride and a small boot) and adds lots of new features – including an optional heated charging port flap to stop it from freezing shut in the winter.

That long range gives the Kona a strong weapon to wield in the battle against its small SUV rivals, chief of which is the Smart #1. With a shorter but still competitive official range of 273 miles, plus punchy performance, a smart interior, surprising practicality and faster charging capability than most rivals, the #1 is the car to beat here.

Peugeot e-2008 rear cornering

Our final contender is the stylish Peugeot e-2008. As part of a recent update, it now offers a smidge more power and a marginally bigger battery than before, while all versions now get the larger, 10.0in touchscreen infotainment system previously reserved for higher-spec models. Like the Kona, the e-2008 is being tested in its entry-level trim, while the #1 is in Premium spec – all of which are our recommended choices.


Performance, ride, handling, refinement

With a 268bhp electric motor driving the rear wheels, the #1 is the most powerful of our contenders and delivers forceful acceleration. Pin your foot to the floor and it shoves you back in your seat as it surges from 0-60mph in just 5.8sec. The 154bhp, front-wheel-drive e-2008 can’t get close to this performance; its 0-60mph time of 8.5sec makes it the slowest car here, although it still delivers a decent turn of pace in everyday driving. Meanwhile, the 215bhp Kona Electric provides a good middle ground; it feels more sprightly than the e-2008, taking 7.8sec to sprint from 0-60mph, but not as indulgently rapid as the #1.

Smart #1 rear cornering

The e-2008 compensates by being the most efficient, achieving a respectable 3.6 miles/kWh on a test route simulating a mixture of motorway, country roads and stop-start driving. True, having the smallest battery (with a 50.8kWh usable capacity) means the e-2008 still has the shortest real-world range (a theoretical 183 miles), but it isn’t far behind its rivals. The Kona and #1 returned 3.2 miles/kWh and 3.0 miles/kWh respectively.

Those efficiency figures translate into a real-world range of 186 miles for the #1 from its 62kWh battery, while the Kona, with its larger battery, is capable of covering 209 miles. Bear in mind that our testing was done in cold winter conditions; you can expect better from all three cars in warmer weather.

Hyundai Kona Electric side action

Regenerative braking helps to eke out range in each of our contenders by capturing energy that would otherwise be lost under deceleration, while making the cars slow down more vigorously. In the Kona, the strength of the regen can be adjusted via paddles behind the steering wheel, with a Max setting that’s strong enough to bring the car to a complete halt when you lift off the accelerator. Likewise, in the stronger of its two settings, the #1 can come to a halt without using the brake pedal, but its delayed and inconsistent response can make for jerky progress. The e-2008 has a ‘B’ mode on the gear selector to increase the braking effect; this is handy enough for controlling your speed for much of the time in traffic, but you have to use the regular brakes to bring the car to a full stop.

It’s a shame the regen isn’t stronger in the e-2008, because its inconsistent brake pedal response makes it the trickiest to bring to a stop smoothly. The brakes themselves are effective, though, with the e-2008 coming to a halt in the shortest distance from 70mph.

Peugeot e-2008 side action

The Kona and e-2008 have quite soft suspension that soaks up most bumps and potholes deftly at low speeds, whereas the firmer #1 has a slightly choppy ride in the same environment. However, the tables are turned at higher speeds; the Kona struggles to isolate occupants from abrupt impacts such as expansion joints, while the #1 settles down to be the comfiest cruiser, soaking up bumps a little better than the e-2008.

Away from the motorway, the #1 is the most fun to drive. Its natural, well-weighted steering is the most precise, while a high level of grip and good body control make it feel the most reassuring through corners. The Kona isn’t far behind when it comes to grip, but some might find its steering a little too light, and it has the most body lean. Although the e-2008 keeps body lean neatly in check, it reaches the limit of grip the soonest, and its darty steering, while well weighted, can make the car feel rather nervous in corners.

Smart #1 side action

A faint whine can be heard from the Kona’s electric motor at low speeds – something you won’t notice in the e-2008 and #1. At motorway speeds, all three produce a fair amount of wind noise, while the #1 suffers from slightly more road noise than its rivals. Overall, the e-2008 is the most peaceful cruiser, but only by a small margin.

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