The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The Peugeot iOn represents a new kind of motoring, where a customer can lease a car with very predictable running costs and no tailpipe emissions. It’s best suited to short, frequent journeys.
Reasons to buy:
- Fixed price of ownership
- Quiet and relaxing to drive
- Seats four comfortably
How good does it look?
The Peugeot iOn shares its looks with the Mitsubishi i-MiEV it’s based on, but features slightly more attractive body styling. It’s narrow and quite tall, which aids its aerodynamic ability to cut through the air and save fuel. It also makes the iOn feel well-suited to the urban environment it’s designed for. Every iOn has five doors and a hatchback boot, as well as privacy glass and alloy wheels.
What's the interior like?
Despite its narrow body, the extra height of the roof gives the interior a surprisingly spacious feel, which can easily accommodate four people. The craftsmanship of the dashboard is on a par with other urban runabouts, but doesn’t excite. The black plastics are fairly scratchy and the stereo isn’t particularly well integrated into the dashboard.
How practical is it?
The iOn is cleverly built with its batteries in the floor of the vehicle, so they intrude as little as possible into the interior space. Its 170-litre boot is adequate for runs to the shops and weekend trips, but won’t accommodate lots of luggage. It’s much more practical than the MINI E, so if a bigger electric car is needed, the Nissan LEAF has a 330-litre boot.
What's it like to drive?
The iOn has clearly been optimised for city driving, where it feels wieldy and has a tight turning circle. The ride is reasonably comfortable and there’s not too much body roll around roundabouts and corners. We’d need further experience with the iOn to assess its abilities on faster country roads, where fewer owners are expected to take their iOns.
How powerful is it?
Electric cars are in their element away from traffic lights in the city, as maximum power is available immediately from a standstill. It’s better to accelerate gently to preserve the possible maximum range of around 70 miles, but this is easy because there are no gear changes, so speed increases in one smooth wave. It takes six hours to fully charge from a household power supply, but can be charged more quickly by a special unit (fitted at your house or next to a parking space) allowing an 80 per cent charge in 30 minutes.
How much will it cost me?
The Peugeot iOn is available on a leasing scheme which costs £415 per month over four years or 40,000 miles. This includes a full warranty cover for the vehicle and its batteries, full servicing and maintenance. So, in theory, all you should pay is the monthly figure and around £2 in electricity to charge the iOn from empty. Peugeot claims the saving in fuel cost of a conventional vehicle is around £1,500, while a driver travelling into London would save £1,696 in Congestion Charge payments annually and almost £2k in City of Westminster parking charges. The Nissan LEAF is available to buy for £24k, after a Government grant of £5k is taken into account.
How reliable is it?
With the car effectively looked after by Peugeot during its four-year lease, any reliability issues should be taken care of with minimum fuss, if they arise. But of course, the iOn needs to be dependable, and it is expected to be. The battery, single-speed gearbox and motor are relatively simple and require little maintenance. The Mitsubishi I-MiEV has been on sale since last year in the UK, and no serious problems have arisen.
How safe is it?
The Peugeot iOn is a four-star Euro NCAP car, which is disappointing in a class full of cars now routinely being awarded five. It features six airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake force distribution (EBD), emergency brake assist (EBA) and electronic stability programme (ESP). The Nissan LEAF has not yet been officially crash tested.
How much equipment do I get?
There’s only one grade of iOn being sold in the UK, so there are no trim levels to choose from. It’s fitted with remote central locking, electric front and rear windows, Bluetooth, USB, CD player, climate control, fog lamps, leather steering wheel, folding door mirrors, tinted rear windows and alloy wheels.
With the price of fuel at an all-time high, many will be considering their options. If you live in the city and make regular short journeys, a fixed monthly price with minimal recharging costs could be tempting.