Test of the Peugeot 408 hatchback | car buyer

0

Some questions are difficult to answer, such as: does pineapple belong on pizza? Is Die Hard a Christmas movie? And is the new Peugeot 408 a saloon, sedan or SUV?

Either way, Peugeot’s latest addition to its range has finally arrived and has been dubbed by the French brand a ‘C-segment fastback’, designed to rival the Citroën C5 X (with which it shares parts) and more SUV-like Renault Arkana.

Beneath the 408’s unmistakably elegant exterior are the same underpinnings used in the Peugeot 308 small family saloon, as well as the new Vauxhall Astra. While the new car will only be offered with petrol and plug-in hybrid powertrains from launch, an all-electric e-408 is likely in the works.

Just as elegant as the exterior of the 408 is its interior; like all modern Peugeots, the overall design looks like something out of a concept car and material quality is strong across the board. Each version of the 408 receives the French brand’s i-Cockpit infotainment system which consists of two central touch screens as well as a 3D digital instrument cluster.

Although far from being a performance car, the Peugeot 408 behaves as well as its sibling, the 308, on the road. The steering is crisp – no doubt because of the car’s small steering wheel – and the suspension absorbs the bumps well. The only downside is that none of the powertrains offered provide as much power; a Cupra Leon is a better bet if you’re looking for a fast and sporty family car.

Besides choosing your car’s color and powertrain, the only other major choice for buyers is to pick one of the 408’s three distinct trim levels: Allure, Allure Premium, GT, and the first draw edition. limit. Peugeot predicts the GT will be the UK’s biggest seller, but even the entry-level Allure comes with plenty of standard kit including LED headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control , a reversing camera and the i-Infotainment system in the cockpit.

The regular 308 is already so sleek it begs the question why anyone should upgrade to its larger, more expensive new sibling. However, the 408 was quick to assert itself with its higher driving position and larger 536-litre boot. While we expect the petrol model to feel underpowered, the 408’s plug-in hybrid powertrains are sure to please both private and corporate car drivers.

Fuel-efficient petrol and plug-in hybrid powertrains mean the 408 should be inexpensive to run

Although it looks like a mix between a 4×4 and a family hatchback, the Peugeot 408 leans more towards the latter in terms of running costs. Buyers have a choice of one of three different powertrains: one being a fuel-efficient petrol and the others a pair of company car plug-in hybrids.

Thanks in part to its small size, the 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine will return a frugal 48.1 mpg on the combined WLTP test cycle. That’s slightly less than the equivalent 308 with the same engine fitted, although that’s to be expected given the 408 is a slightly larger car. With CO2 emissions of up to 156g/km, however, the petrol 408 will be of little interest to company car drivers, given its 36% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax rate.

Instead, business users should look to one of two plug-in hybrids on offer. Our pick would be the entry-level 180 model, as it offers up to 40 miles of pure electric range, which means it fits into the low 8% BiK range. The more powerful 225 PHEV can only travel 39 miles on a charge, which means it will be slightly more expensive to run with its 12% BiK rating.

Whichever PHEV you choose, both will be able to return over 200mpg – provided you keep the battery charged – and can charge at a rate of 3.7kW as standard – a faster 7.4 on-board charger kW is available as an option.

The 408 feels more than capable on the road, although we suspect the entry-level petrol will feel underpowered

The Peugeot 408 shares many of its parts with the Citroën C5 X and although that car was configured primarily for comfort, Peugeot says its offering has been tailored to appeal to “those who like to drive”. So it worked?

Yes and no. While the 408 is certainly good to drive, it doesn’t offer the same thrills as, say, a Cupra Formentor. Just like in the 308, the steering is crisp and body roll is kept to a minimum. Even on PHEV models with heavy batteries, the 408 never feels too heavy, although it also doesn’t feel nimble enough to provide the confidence to fully attack a twisty B-road.

That’s not thanks in part to the relatively underpowered powertrains on offer. Nowhere will that lack of grunt be more apparent than in the entry-level petrol car. This model uses a 1.2-liter PureTech three-cylinder engine that produces 128 hp. While we haven’t driven a gasoline 408 yet, we’ve driven the lighter 308 with the same powertrain, and it never felt exactly spry. The numbers don’t exactly do the 408 gasoline any favors either; 0-62mph takes 10.4 seconds, meaning this variant will be best suited to city driving and lower speeds.

The plug-in hybrid models both use 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engines, paired with an electric motor to produce 178hp and 222hp respectively. The 178 hp PHEV ‘180’ goes from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.1 seconds; while the 222bhp ‘225’ model looks a lot quicker on paper, in reality it’s just 0.3 seconds quicker at 62mph than its smaller sibling.

Fortunately, the instant torque of the electric motors means both PHEV cars feel punchier than those numbers suggest. All 408 models – petrol and hybrid – come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox which, unfortunately, can be slow to respond at times.

The 408’s interior is certainly striking, but Peugeot’s i-Cockpit may prove a dealbreaker for some

Peugeot has made some of the best-looking mainstream cars of recent years, and that goes for the brand’s interiors too. The interior of the 408 is not only elegant, it is also sumptuous and comfortable. There’s plenty of soft-touch plastics and the car’s supple suspension means covering long distances should be a breeze.

Like all modern Peugeot cars, the 408 benefits from the brand’s unique i-Cockpit infotainment setup. The central display – measuring 10 inches in diameter – responds quickly to your inputs and is complemented by a smaller touchscreen mounted below, which acts as a set of shortcut buttons. One downside is that instead of physical buttons or switches, Peugeot has integrated the climate controls into the displays, which means they can be difficult to use when on the move. On a lighter note, all cars come with satellite navigation, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

However, it’s the digital instrument cluster and seating position that will prove the most controversial. Peugeot’s i-Cockpit was designed to position the steering wheel below the dials, rather than have you looking through the gap between the spokes. This means you’ll be sitting with the steering wheel much lower than you normally would so as not to obscure the readings, and taller drivers may find this uncomfortable. Fortunately, the 3D effect on the instruments themselves is a bit of a consolation.

There are three main trim levels to choose from – Allure, Allure Premium and GT – as well as the limited-run, fully-loaded First Edition. Entry-level Allure cars come with many standard kits, including LED headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, leatherette upholstery, dual-zone satellite climate control, automatic high beams and a reversing camera.

Upgrading to the Allure Premium costs around £1,000 and that includes larger 19-inch diamond-cut alloys, gloss black exterior detailing, keyless entry and a host of extra safety features. Finally, the top-of-the-range GT features Matrix LED headlights, full LED taillights, leather and Alcanatra upholstery, heated leather steering wheel and a power trunk lid.

Despite a sloping roofline, the Peugeot 408 has a decently sized boot

The Peugeot 408 is about 300mm longer than the 308 hatchback, which is a big plus for passenger and trunk space. Unlike the 308 which has a cramped set of rear seats, the 408’s longer wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) means taller rear passengers can stretch out more. However, the 408’s sloping roofline can be rather an annoyance, but not as much as we’d expect from such a vehicle.

The biggest impact of this size increase is certainly in the boot; The petrol 408s offer 536 liters of rear cargo space, which shrinks to an ever-impressive 471 liters on plug-in hybrid models. It’s much the same as what you’d find in a Renault Arkana, plus you can fold the rear seats down to increase the load area to a cavernous 1,611/1,545 litres.

The 408 should be reliable, although the 308 can only manage a four-star security score

Given that the 408 only debuted in late 2022, it’s too new to feature in our Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. However, Peugeot as a brand ranked fourth out of 29 manufacturers, with around 18% of owners reporting a problem within the first year of ownership.

The 408 has not yet undergone safety testing by Euro NCAP either, however, its smaller sibling, the 308, could only achieve a four out of five star rating. Given that they share most of their parts, we can expect the same for the 408 – it’s important to remember that this doesn’t mean either car is unsafe, it’s is just one example of the rigor of the Euro NCAP tests.

All 408 models benefit from autonomous emergency braking, adaptive high beams and traffic sign recognition. Higher-performance cars get a more comprehensive safety kit that includes blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist.

Share.

About Author

Comments are closed.