16.5.2011 Peugeot iOn review
Feels like a Rolls-Royce compared to a G-Wiz, but not as salubrious as the Nissan LEAF. If you can cope with the extra attention until the iOn becomes a more familiar sight, this egg-shaped four-seater could make sense if you tend to make shorter journeys.
Statistics suggest the average town commute is less than seven miles each way, so theoretically the iOn should satisfy most motorist's needs. Peugeot estimates electric cars will take four per cent of the EU new car market by 2020 and hopes to be selling around 50,000 iOns by 2015, which seems over-optimistic to me.
Review by Russell Bray for nextgreencar.com
Press the accelerator gently and the iOn surges away as quietly and smoothly as a £100,000 limousine, or floor it and to 30mph it will beat almost anything away from the traffic lights. That's because its 133 lbs/ft of torque arrives instantly. After that, life slows down – except for the plummeting range meter. Rest to 60mph takes a lengthy 16 seconds. Such a need is unlikely in town though and I never felt the iOn struggling to keep up with traffic. Maximum power is 64bhp from 3,500rpm to 8,000rpm. Top speed is 81mph.
With the iOn's main weight, its 88-cell 16 kWh lithium ion battery pack, slung low down under the floor it is pleasingly stable. The electric motor neatly replaces a compact petrol engine and transmission between the rear wheels in this Mitsubishi 'i' derived vehicle. You can even fling the iOn round a roundabout and despite its height and narrow width it doesn't feel like it's going to topple over. The iOn felt as comfortable as a Smart on a dual carriageway but strong crosswinds gave some nervous moments. Motorway speeds do burn current.
Peugeot's designers have made the iOn look more attractive and futuristic than the Mitsubishi i-MiEV on which, like the Citroen C-Zero, it is based. A huge windscreen makes the iOn feel spacious but without the air con working you would bake on a hot day. There's easily room for four adults but 170 litres of boot space means small bags only. All iOns have five doors and come with privacy glass. Despite features including six airbags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution and electronic stability system the iOn scores only four in Euro NCAP crash tests. Length 3474mm; Width.1594mm.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Cars don't come any easier to drive so it's easy to adapt to electric power. Get in, turn the key, select Drive, release the handbrake and you're off. Peugeot has smartened up the cabin with some piano black trim and other touches so it's an agreeable enough place.
There's space for two adults in the back and it would be ideal for taking three children on the school run. The boot is adequate for shopping and short trips, but won't take lots of luggage. It's more practical than a Smart ForTwo.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Because electric cars are murderously expensive to buy (the Citroen C-Zero is £28,155 and the Mitsubishi iMiEV £28,990) Peugeot is making the iOn available only on a leasing scheme at £415 per month over four years or 40,000 miles, excluding VAT. This includes a full warranty, full servicing and maintenance. Recharging from a home power supply takes six hours and costs about £2.50. This gives a theoretical range of about 90 miles in free flowing traffic but nearer 40 miles in traffic with the air-con operating. Altering a conventional driving style can improve this. A special fast charge device, which supermarkets are considering supplying, achieves an 80% charge in 30 minutes. Peugeot say that a typical driver would save £1,500 a year in fuelling costs compared to a normal car. London drivers would presently save on the congestion charge, parking charges in some areas and all electric cars are VED tax exempt.
Even with diesel fume belching lorries and taxis there's no doubt city air would be cleaner if we all commuted in iOns and its stablemates with no tailpipe pollution. A recent report suggested electric cars create about 70g/km of CO2 because of the energy used by power stations to generate the electricity. Taking this into account, the iOn receives a Next Green Car Rating of 21 if charged with electricity from the standard UK grid mix. If charged using green, renewably sourced electricity the Rating becomes 10.
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, power steering, Bluetooth phone connection, radio and CD player, air conditioning, fog lamps, leather steering wheel, folding door mirrors, tinted rear windows and alloy wheels.
Model tested: Peugeot iOn
Body-style: Five-door city car
Engine / CO2: 66bhp electric motor / 0 gCO2/km
Trim grades: One
On-road price: Lease £415 pm for four years. Citroen C-Zero and Mitsubishi iMiEV are each over £28,000.
Warranty: Four years / 40,000 miles
In the showroom: Available now
Review rating: 3.0 STARS
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