Peugeot iOn

19th March 2012.  Text and images © ecodrive 2012 unless otherwise stated.  No reproduction without express permission.

Special Offer: Peugeot iOn for just £12,999 On The Road whilst stock lasts, from participating dealers.

Peugeot have had a long history with Electric Vehicles since the Peugeot 106 Electric back in the mid-1990s - the first semi-production model to sell in real numbers in Europe. Their return to the EV market is the spiritual successor to the 106: the Peugeot iOn. Bearing more than a passing resemblance to its sister car, Citroën's C-Zero, and even more to the vehicle on which they're both based, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, the Peugeot and Citroën offerings are now the most affordable electric cars on the market today.

Peugeot iOn © ecodrive

There is no denying that the Peugeot iOn is broadly similar to the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, largely being a rebadging exercise, but that is no bad thing in the fledgling EV market. Mitsubishi have had various incarnations of i-MiEV for around 5 years so it is a well-proven vehicle.  Peugeot/Citroën's pre-existing relationship with Mitsubishi to buy-in other low volume models (they also rebadge the Outlander 4x4 model as the Peugeot 4007) meant it was an obvious choice as a partner. And it's not the first collaboration: Peugeot 107, Citroën C1 and Toyota Aygo are all basically the same car.

In terms of specification, the Peugeot and Citroën products are identical so what are the differences between Peugeot iOn and the Mitsubishi upon which it is based?  Well, the most noteworthy addition is Peugeot Connect, fitted to all other Peugeots now, allowing you to summon roadside assistance or the emergency services at the touch of a button - or automatically in the case of an accident.  A built-in SIM card, mobile phone technology and a GPS allow emergency calls to be tracked and the vehicle location pinpointed.  On Peugeot iOn the service extends cover to running out of juice - a comforting safety blanket, especially for a novice EV driver.

The mature one?

The colour pallette for iOn is far greater than the paltry 4 choices available on i-MiEV, although they are largely the same between the French branded cars (solid white, silver, black, pearlescent white, red & yellow) and Peugeot also offer metallic Killi Blue.  Most publicity shots are in the conservative white, silver or Killi Blue, reflecting the brand's main colour.  Peugeot iOn and Mitsubishi i-MiEV have opted for body-coloured door frames which give it a subtly different appearance to C-Zero's black borders and darker headlamp bodies.

Peugeot have changed the exterior appearance more so than Citroën have, with the bonnet being unique to include the  U-shape recess for the Peugeot 'lion' badge and a similar moulding on the tailgate.  Clear red rear light clusters seem to lend iOn a more upmarket appearance than the smoke-tinted clusters on the Citroën which are carried straight over from the i-MiEV, reflecting the same choices on C1 and 107.  Peugeot iOn comes with automatically folding mirrors activated by the remote central locking and 7-spoke alloys are standard - which are an option on i-MiEV.

You get a standard DIN radio with 2 speakers and 2 tweeters but it has both a CD and a USB connection - to connect straight to an iPod, other MP3 player or even just a memory stick with your favourite tunes.  It also has Bluetooth and a microphone in the dash to use hands-free with a compatible mobile phone.

On the road

Being rear-wheel-drive it doesn't have a huge boot, just 166 litres, but the 50:50 rear seats fold flat very simply (no issue with seat-belts being caught up etc) to yield a high, level load floor making it more practical than many larger hatchbacks. Without drive going through the front wheels it has an incredibly tight steering lock, particularly useful in city driving and for making U-turns in the road.

Its 49kW, 180Nm high-torque motor gives spritely acceleration and the low centre of gravity gives good roadholding despite its tall, narrow body.

There is only one trim level, in a sombre black and blue, but it is relatively well-specified with remote central locking (with folding mirrors) and all-round electric windows.  Electric heating and air-conditioning need judicious use to avoid reducing range, where this will be an issue. 

The three cars achieved an impressive 4-star Euro-NCAP rating, with 6 airbags including curtain airbags, Isofix points for child seats in the rear and a disabling function for the passenger airbag to permit a rear-facing childseat.

The official range figure from the European 'NEDC' test cycle quotes a range of 93 miles, but this is an overestimate in virtually all circumstances.  A practical maximum of 80 miles is a more honest estimate, subject to modest speeds and without the use of the electric heating or air-conditioning.  With automatic style driving controls and just Park-Reverse-Neutral-Drive selections, it is incredibly simple to drive. There is no built-in satellite navigation but is available as an accessory to fix to the windscreen.  The range can be down to as little as 40 miles, especially in winter with heating and a heavy right foot, but with care a reliable 60 mile range is easily achievable.

Mu-sic to your ears

Peugeot have addressed the occasional need for a longer range through their new Mu scheme, offering access to larger or 'unlimited range' conventional vehicles at a rate cheaper than typical car rental companies.  Presently only offered by Peugeot's own Robins & Day dealerships in the larger cities, the scheme is not only aimed at buyers of iOn but allows anyone to buy a smaller, more efficient Peugeot than they might otherwise choose, safe in the knowledge that they can access a more practical vehicle - an estate or people carrier for instance, or something more fun like a convertible - on the rare occasion that they need or want one.  Other iOn specialist dealers (of which there are 22 across the UK) may individually offer similar.

For iOn customers, the dealership will charge your car from their dedicated charging point whilst you use the conventional vehicle, so even if you are at the limit of reaching the dealer from home you can return to your vehicle with a full charge.

The Mu scheme is a very attractive proposition particularly where iOn may be a household's only car and is a more efficient, lower carbon alternative to buying an Extended-Range EV where trips beyond the daily range of the EV are the exception rather than the rule.

Charging

In common with the other Japanese origin cars, including Nissan and Mitsubishi, Peugeot iOn has 2 charge inlets, one on each rear quarter panel: the right-hand-side has the 'normal' inlet for charging at home (or base) from a wallbox charger or at a charging station, recouping 8-12 miles' worth of driving per hour.  On the left-hand-side rear is the Quick Charge inlet for use with ChaDeMo chargers to bring up 80% in 30 minutes from empty: 30%-80% in about 15 minutes.  Plugged In Places areas deploying these chargers (as well as Ireland, the Netherlands and Estonia) give longer legs to the pint-sized car.

Peugeot iOn © ecodrive
Peugeot iOn comes as standard with a 10Amp 'EVSE cable' to use with domestic-type sockets at charging stations.  All new charging stations will soon be using the safer, faster 'Mennekes' type sockets and so a second cable will be required - available as an accessory from ecodrive.

Using the Type 2 (Mennekes) cable will charge iOn 30% faster, as will using the wallbox at home.

Economics

Following a recent price drop, Peugeot iOn and Citroën C-Zero now have the lowest (battery included) purchase price of any of the Plug-In Car Grant eligible vehicles at just £21,216 On The Road, including VAT and PICG. Businesses can contract hire at just £249+VAT per month on a 3-year, 30,000 mile basis. When factoring in the potential to save over £100 per month on fuel charges, nil road tax, exemption from Congestion Charge (in London, with a £10 annual admin fee) and, as a business, 0% Benefit-In-Kind (Company Car tax) for an employee & nil National Insurance contributions for the employer,  you can quickly see how affordable Peugeot iOn really can be.  Businesses can claim 100% First Year Allowance against tax reducing the effective purchase price significantly.

Verdict

In common with the stablemates, Peugeot iOn is a nimble, agile EV with generous interior space for 4 adults considering its small footprint on the road.  Fantastic steering lock make it incredibly manoeuvrable and at home in the city.  There are a good choice of colours (better than the Mitsubishi i-MiEV on which it is based) of solid, metallic and pearlescent shades, but just the one rather dark and sombre interior with a blue hue to the dashboard top.

Avoid the pearlescent black paint unless it is really important to a business brand etc. since it will require greater ventilation or air-conditioning in summer.

The only option of the Cold Pack (heated drivers seat and heated mirrors) at just £155 (inc VAT) should always be specified: the heated seat can take the chill off and avoid use of the energy-hungry main heating, preserving range.

The standard 10A charging cable that comes with the car for away-from-home use is slow: future public charging stations will use 'Type 2' (commonly referred to as 'Mennekes') connectors which can charge 35% faster so if you plan to charge elsewhere, especially in Plugged in Places areas, it is advisable to buy one of these cables.

It is presently the cheapest EV on the market (along with Citroën C-Zero) undercutting both the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi i-MiEV as an outright purchase with a competitive Contract Hire rate if that is the preferable route.

Peugeot iOn is £21,216 inc VAT (including the Plug-In Car Grant) or is available for £249+VAT per month on a 36-month (3+35) and 10,000 miles per annum contract.  Special offer: Limited stock available at £12,999. Contact for details.

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