- Devilishly good looks
- Characterful interior
- Hybrids have reasonable performance
- Coupe-style back limits practicality
- Not especially fun to drive
- Hybrid models add a lot to the price
Peugeot has launched an all-new car. While it’s used the 408 badge on a saloon car in other parts of the world for over ten years, it finds its home in the UK on the back of an unusual-looking motor.
Suppose you're familiar with cars like the BMW X6, Renault Arkana and the Citroen C5 X. In that case, you'll know what to expect from the new Peugeot: a reasonably large, sporty, rakish, coupe-styled vehicle that looks like its priority is fun, rather than practicality.
With the Peugeot 3008 already providing an option for those who want a more normal-looking SUV, the 408 sits between the 3008 and the 308 hatchbacks in the range in terms of size.
It is also a plug-in hybrid, which means some all-electric range and the ability to top it up on electrons from the comfort of your home.
Peugeots look good nowadays, thanks to the marque's new styling, which includes a new logo, a mesh grille and headlights that have as much form as they do function.
The front looks devilishly mean like it's eyeing up the neighbour's cat that's sat on the driveway for a lunchtime snack.
The side-on view is less successful due to the car's unusual shape. Still, the flowing back window, which tapers to a point, the aerodynamically styled wheels and the delicately shaped bodywork all add some extra personality.
At the back, the pointy boot lid, the angry-looking rear lights and the seemingly Transformer-inspired protruding bumper complete the look.
It is anything but boring – and it’s the same story on the inside. Here, you get a 10-inch infotainment system with SatNav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a digital instrument display, dual-zone climate control, adjustable lumbar support, a rear-view camera and keyless entry.
The infotainment system could be more responsive but features a nicely designed interface, and it's certainly a better effort nowadays from Peugeot.
Unfortunately, the French firm has committed the cardinal sin of burying the air conditioning controls into the touchscreen, which makes adjusting the temperature on the move excessively fiddley.
You get 17-inch wheels at entry-level, but most customers will likely choose at least mid-range Allure Premium trim. This grade gets 19-inch rims and includes plenty of additional safety features. In contrast, our GT test car receives the same, plus an Alcantara interior, powered tailgate and heated steering wheel.
On The Road
Handling & Performance
The 408 uses powertrains from elsewhere in the Peugeot range, which use eight-speed automatic gearboxes and are all petrol-powered with front-wheel drive.
There is the 1.2-litre turbocharged PureTech 130 (131PS) and the 1.6-litre plug-in Hybrid 180 (180PS).
But our GT model test car has the top-of-the-range plug-in Hybrid 225 powertrain, featuring the same 1.6-litre engine as the Hybrid 180, but with (you guessed it) 225PS.
Moving off the line is not particularly exciting, but Peugeot isn't aiming for the 408 to be athletic, despite its aggressive, performance-inspired looks. Nevertheless, it's still brisk enough, getting from 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds.
There is an instant burst of torque from the electric motor, although if you get too demanding with the accelerator, you’ll be greeted with wheelspin at the front.
The 408 is more focused on ride comfort than nimble handling. As a result, it has a reasonably soft suspension setup that wafts along effortlessly, producing a tranquilly, quiet driving experience if you're in all-electric mode.
If you demand more power than the motor can provide, the engine will switch itself on with a bit of delay. However, the resulting acceleration is reasonable, and the transition between the engine off and the engine on is seamless.
Around corners, there’s an acceptable amount of grip. But it does little to improve the car’s ability to take a bend at speed, instead producing a bit of body lean if you tackle a twisty road even slightly too quickly. Furthermore, the steering isn’t brilliant, offering limited feedback. Still, it's light and easy on the arms on longer journeys.
All that said, it’s still more engaging to drive than the Citroen C5 X, which shares much of its underpinnings with the 408.
While performance-seekers will inevitably choose the 225, a different car is likely the best option if you're bothered by power and pace, especially as the lower-powered Hybrid 180 is only a smidgeon slower to 62mph.
Space & Practicality
The Peugeot 408 certainly has an attractive interior design, and, helped by the amount of space in the front, it’s very comfortable to sit in.
You certainly won’t be found wanting on legroom or headroom in the front, and after a lengthy test drive, we didn’t feel we needed to stretch our legs much when we got out.
The driving position is slightly higher than you'd find in most other Peugeots, although those wanting to laud it over other motorists might want to check out the automaker’s 3008 or 5008 SUVs.
In the back, the legroom is also plentiful. Still, the sloping roofline eats into the available headroom, meaning taller rear-seat passengers need to hunker down to avoid hitting their heads against the ceiling. This is worth factoring in before adding the optional panoramic sunroof, which further lowers the roofline.
Regarding practicality, our test car's boot space measures 471 litres, although the entry-level non-hybrid gets 536 litres.
The rear seats fold in a 60/40 split to increase the capacity to 1545 (1611 litres in the non-hybrid).
These are reasonably competitive figures, while the interior features numerous cubbies and accommodating door bins to store your stuff.
The Hybrid 225 we’re testing manages up to 269mpg, producing just 26g/km of CO2, while the Hybrid 180 achieves up to 270mpg with the same CO2 emissions.
Both have a 12.4kWh battery, providing around 40 miles of all-electric range. Of course, you'll get less than this in the real world, but if most of your journeys are under 20 miles, then you'll likely benefit from its all-electric capability.
A full charge can be achieved in under three-and-a-half hours, but you can upgrade to a 7.4kW charger, which reduces the top-up time to under two hours.
Those who need more range will be pleased to hear the all-electric e-408 is coming in a few months with a 54kWh battery with a likely capacity of between 200 and 250 miles. However, official specs are yet to be confirmed.
Those who aren't bothered by hybrid power might be interested to know that the PureTech 130 manages a still impressive 48.1mpg, producing 136g/km of CO2.
Given the 408 is a brand-new car, reliability is unknown, although Peugeot hasn’t performed well in recent surveys, and you only get a bog-standard three-year, 60,000-mile warranty.
The hybrids get an eight-year, 100,000-mile guarantee for their battery systems.
The 408 looks great inside and out and has a generous equipment list.
It is okay in hybrid form, but there’s a huge price jump from the petrol-only model without a significant performance increase. And the difference in power between the Hybrid 180 and our Hybrid 225 test car is barely noticeable.
Of course, the savings, thanks to the hybrid's far superior fuel economy, may be enough to justify it to some, especially high-mileage drivers. Still, if you’re a company vehicle user, you may wish to wait for the electric e-408.
The Citroen C5 X, on which the 408 is based, is also slightly cheaper and even more comfortable.
Overall, the Peugeot 408 is tempting, decent and roomy, but the boot size is eaten into by the coupe-styled rear, meaning those in the back might feel a little short-changed.