It’s always nice to test a brand-new model, this week we are in the Peugeot 408, a four-door car with an exterior design that, refreshing, is not an SUV!
In a motoring world dominated by SUVs and crossovers, the mid-sized Peugeot shames most rivals with clever packaging that allows the 408 accommodate five occupants and a whole heap of luggage. The 408’s saloon-like shape features a big boot that is accessed via its sloping fastback hatch opening. In the flesh the 408 impresses and will remind you that there is a place for conventional cars in the market. The only thing the 408 doesn’t do is deliver a tall SUV-like driving position – that said the driver’s seat is height adjustable and the view from there is pretty good. The 408 gets a lot of its architecture from its sibling the (excellent) 308, and Peugeot has managed to max out the numbers to deliver a very spacious car.
The 408 is nicely styled on the outside, with a great light signature that helps deliver great street presence. The body looks wide and squat and features a relatively long body – slightly longer than the 5008 7-seater. At 1.48m high, it is nice to be able to see the roof of a car too without having to go on you tippy toes and all over the 408’s surfacing you will find little design touches that will raise a smile – You have to love French design and flare. The 408 rides on big alloys and features sharp lines. Head on the 408 announces itself well thanks to its colour coded grille. The rear end features an ‘inverted cut-out of the rear bumper’ that is a refreshing element that helps deliver 408’s solid look. At 4.69 meters the new 408 is a long car with an impressively long wheelbase of 2.79m. As a result the cabin is huge with rear legroom an impressive 188mm. The boot holds 536 litres (471 litres PHEV Hybrid), that can increase to 1,611 litres with the rear seats are folded down.
Inside the cabin is an airy and spacious place to spend time. The driver is treated well, and the car shrinks around the driving position thanks to Peugeot’s i-Cockpit design and its small diameter steering wheel that delivers a sporty feeling. The 408 features all of the nice, contemporary switchgear and design touches we have loved since their introduction in the first 3008. Peugeot has laid claim to be a premium mainstream brand and the 408 doesn’t disappoint with a dash layout design and switchgear that has a premium feel. One niggle we had with out test car concerned its touch screen freezing intermittently.
As of now all 408s are automatic and feature the smooth E AT8 eight speed auto gearbox. Performance in our 130hp petrol test car was fine and utterly average, doing simply what was needed without much fuss. The engine range for Ireland is powered by either petrol (1.2 litre) or PHEV plug in hybrid (1.6 litre) powertrains. The hybrids are rated A1 and the petrol only model B2. The engine star is Peugeot’s 1.2 PureTech (turbocharged) that pushes out 130hp in standard guise. The PHEVs have a bigger engine and a 12.4kWh battery pack and are more powerful with 180hp in the 408 Hybrid and 225hp in the Hybrid2. Peugeot claims a 62km max electric-only driving range. More versions are on the way with an electric 408 (EV) coming soon. Meanwhile at the Auto Shanghai 2023 (motor show) Peugeot debuted the new Peugeot 408 as the 408X – there is already a Peugeot 408 model in China. The 408X is built in China at Dongfeng’s factory in Chengdu.
The 408 range starts with the Allure grade followed by the Allure Pack, with the GT grade topping the range. Pricing starts from €39,995, rising to €52,495 (Hybrid2 GT). The 408 is a smart looking and functional car with enough design flare to turn heads. While the ‘car’ shape has been out of fashion for some time with buyers, the quest to get more efficiencies out of our automobiles will see sleeker are aerodynamic car shapes becoming more popular as manufacturers strive to produce cars will better aerodynamics to help reduce energy consumption and extend range. The Peugeot 408 impressed us – feeling more dynamic than an SUV to drive, while also delivering a sense of contentment to the driver due to 408’s combination of good looks and practicality.