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New Peugeot e-208 vs used BMW i3

Want to go electric without paying a fortune? Peugeot’s all-new e-208 is a great choice. But BMW’s radical i3 is even more affordable as a used buy...

New Peugeot e-208 vs used BMW i3

The contenders

NEW Peugeot e-208 Allure

List price £29,915*
Target Price £29,463*

Our favourite sub-£30,000 electric car promises a relatively long range at a competitive price


USED BMW i3 94Ah

Used price £22,500
Age 2018/18-plate

Radical hatchback has an upmarket interior and strong performance; it’s a very tempting used buy


We try to avoid hyperbole here at What Car?, but with a surge of manufacturers launching new battery-powered models, 2020 really was shaping up to be the year of the electric vehicle (EV).

Things, of course, have slowed somewhat due to a certain global pandemic, but if you allow us to look to the positive for a moment, we’ve already seen some appealing, relatively attainable EVs hitting the market this year, including the Mini Electric, Vauxhall Corsa-e and our current favourite, the Peugeot e-208.

Peugeot e-208 rear cornering

This electric version of Peugeot’s latest small hatchback offers buyers an official range of more than 200 miles, rapid charging and impressive luxury, all for a very reasonable price.

However, even competitively priced new EVs like the e-208 start to look a whole lot less tempting when you consider that, for around £4000 less, you could have a two-year-old BMW i3 with a mere 5000 miles on the clock and the option of extending the existing manufacturer’s warranty to match the e-208’s three years of cover.

With its premium badge, luxurious interior and striking styling, the i3 has always proved popular with buyers. Could it be the better choice?

New Volkswagen e-Golf vs BMW i3

Driving

Performance, ride, handling, refinement

The i3 can show the e-208 a clean pair of heels away from the lights, scampering from 0-60mph in a hot hatch-worrying 7.2sec – a whole 1.3sec quicker than the e-208.

The reason for this superior turn of pace? Well, not only does the i3 produce more power than the e-208 (168bhp versus 134bhp), but it also benefits from high-tech underpinnings featuring plenty of lightweight carbonfibre. As a result, it weighs a good 285kg less than the e-208 – the equivalent of three burly adults.

Peugeot e-208 side panning

However, the i3 impresses less when it comes to handling. Whereas the e-208 steers accurately and generally stays composed on uneven roads, the i3 can feel twitchy and nervous. And while the skinny tyres provide more grip than you might expect, hit a bump mid-corner and the i3’s tendency to skip and hop across the road can be unnerving.

The e-208’s ride is significantly more composed, too. Along pockmarked city streets, the i3 is positively uncomfortable on its large (19in) wheels, with even smaller bumps causing the car to jostle you around in your seat.

Used test: BMW i3 vs Volkswagen e-Golf

To make matters worse, at higher speeds the i3 struggles to suppress road and suspension noise, whereas the e-208 is relatively hushed.

Another reason why the e-208 makes a better cruiser is that it has a longer range; its official figure of 217 miles means it should achieve around 170 miles in real-world driving. The i3 had a 195-mile official range, based on the old, less realistic NEDC test, but it managed just 121 miles in our Real Range test.


Next: What are they like inside? >>

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