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It’s a sign of how quickly the times are changing when an automaker simultaneously launches a petrol, diesel and electric version of the same new car.

That’s what Peugeot have done with their new 208 supermini hatch.

Expect it to cost a bit more than €18,000 when it gets here for New Year registrations.

And I think the electric model will kick off from around €26,000.

While the internal combustion engine (ICE) versions will account for the majority of buying (for now), the electric will attract a lot of attention too.

Regardless of power source, the car looks virtually the same: cabin and boot space are identical in a body that’s longer, wider and lower.

Design is sharp and vibrant. The front is eye-catching, for sure, but the outstanding feature is the ‘black band’ running across the boot lid, linking the three claw lights either side. Best-looking car in its supermini class? Yes, it’s got the wow factor.

The electric model has a 50 kWh battery (220-litres, under floor pan) with a claimed range of 340km (WLTP); 450km (NEDC).

There is an eight-year/160,000km battery guarantee for 70pc of charge capacity.

The system develops 100kW (136bhp, 260Nm torque). There are three self-explanatory, drive modes: Eco, Normal and Sport (it nips to 100kmh in 8.1s). It certainly was lively, brisk and full of brio on our short drive. I liked the instrumentation/display and couldn’t help but note how unusual it felt to be driving it alongside its ICE siblings.

There are several ways to charge it – from conventional domestic socket to using a 100kW DC public charging terminal where 80pc of the ‘refill’ is garnered in 30 minutes.

To set the e-208 a little bit apart, there is a colour-coded radiator grille, e-208 badge at the rear and an ‘e’ on the rear wings.

Meanwhile, the three petrols are based on the 1.2-litre PureTech 3cyl turbo: 75bhp (up on the old 68bhp), 100bhp (instead of 82bhp) and 130bhp; as well as a 100bhp 1.5 diesel. The 8spd auto is optional with the 100 and 130 petrols.

The 75bhp (5spd) is the anticipated main seller but on a quick drive yesterday the 100 (manual) was the standout of all the drives. The 75 was perfectly OK – indeed better than I anticipated – it’s just the 100 sparkled.

I’d had a longer drive in the 130 8spd auto. Like in the 100, the chassis showed how fun a drive it could be. The 130 engine had loads of pep in its step but the 1.5-litre diesel wasn’t great.

Built on the brand’s common modular production platform, there is a 30kg reduction in weight.

The latest i-Cockpit brought focus to a particularly well laid out cabin; our test models had good-to-touch materials.

There are four trim levels: Active, Allure, GT Line and GT (electric version) and you can have up to four USB sockets.

Packaged into some versions are heavy-duty driving aids which Peugeot say you’d expect in higher market segments – there is a nod towards semi-automatic driving with Drive Assist, adaptive cruise control, Stop & Go, etc.

This is a smart car in more ways than one. It will be interesting to see what version people choose and why. But ultimately there is no doubting its credentials across the power sources.

Meantime, electrification continues with the 2008SUV arriving next year. There will be petrol, diesel and electric versions – but not at exactly the same time.

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