Peugeot iOn review

If all you want is an electric city car, the Peugeot iOn could fit the bill, but there are far better alternatives

£20,495
£16,995
Electric

Pros

  • Good around town
  • Plenty of equipment
  • Cheaper than it was

Cons

  • Short range
  • Short on safety kit
  • Dated, cheap-feeling interior
Car type Official range Wallbox charge time Fast charge time
Electric 93 miles (NEDC) 7 hours (3.3kW) 30 mins (50kW, 0-80%)

The Peugeot iOn was one of the first electric cars in the UK and one of a set of near-identical triplets. You can still buy the Citroen C-Zero, but the third car in the line-up – the Mitsubishi i-MiEV – is long gone. Which is ironic, as the Mitsubishi was the first of the three and the electric motor and battery system is all that company’s work.

As you can tell from one look at the car, it’s designed very much for use around town. That tall, narrow body allows a good view out for the driver, as well as making it easy to dive through narrow streets. As such, the iOn is an obvious alternative to cars like the Volkswagen e-up!, Renault ZOE and Smart EQ ForTwo. But with a list price of just under £17,000 after the government's plug-in car grant has been deducted, it’s not that much cheaper than them.

Most of its vital statistics are what you'd most politely call ‘modest’. The motor develops just 66bhp and range on a full charge is quoted as 93 miles – although you can expect to get a fair bit less than that in everyday use. Most owners online reckon about 65 miles is as good as it gets.

WIth a full charge taking about nine hours from a standard domestic socket, the car is ideal for use pottering around town during the day before being parked up to charge overnight. The only charge cable that comes with it reflects that – it connects to a three-pin socket only, so if you want to plug in to a fast-charger or wallbox, you need to pay extra for an appropriate cable.

Mind you, that is typical of this car’s specification, which gives what you need, but not much more. That includes alloy wheels, six airbags, DAB radio and climate control, but you won’t find any of the niceties common in more modern cars. There’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, for instance, and no autonomous emergency braking system, either. When it comes to smartphone connectivity, Bluetooth is as good as gets in the iOn. Apart from metallic or pearlescent paint, the only option is a remote-control pack that allows you pre-set the time you want to charge the car and pre-heat the interior before you set off.

When you do set off, you’ll find that – unsurprisingly – the iOn is at its best as a city car. Its sheer size is a big help, making it very manoeuvrable; despite having just 66bhp, it’s also quick to 30mph and more than able to keep up with all but the quickest traffic around town.

However, if you venture beyond the city limits, you’ll soon find the car’s limitations. Acceleration is much slower beyond 40mph, which makes out-of-town excursions frustrating affairs. A top speed of 81mph means that, in theory, it can manage a motorway trip, but that sort of speed chews through the battery charge at an alarming rate, while the car itself feels relatively unstable at motorway speeds.

Similarly, it’s best to avoid using the iOn's capacity to the full. Stick to just a couple of people on board, and it’ll do fine. But if you put a couple of big adults in the back, they’ll struggle for legroom. And as for the boot, if you need to find space for anything more than two or three bags of shopping, you’ll have to use one of the seats.

Overall, it’s hard to recommend the iOn. It’s pretty much a one-trick pony and while it’s good at that trick, it’s showing its age too much. More modern electric-car designs have a much broader range of abilities, as well as better equipment. A used iOn would make a great little runaround as a second car, but if you plan to spend this kind of money on a new electric car, you don’t have to try too hard to find somewhere better to spend it.

For a more detailed look at the Peugeot iOn, read on for the rest of our in-depth review.