New 2023 Peugeot 408 heralds all-new body style for French brand

Peugeot’s new 408 crossover will launch as a plug-in hybrid

The new Peugeot 408 “dynamic fastback” saloon has arrived to broaden the French brand's range, positioned between the 508 large family hatch and the mid-size 3008 SUV. As a raised-up five-door with a large hatchback tailgate, Peugeot says the 408 puts a focus on practicality and style, and is the first car of its kind on the market.

While the car’s design breaks new ground for the brand – including the treatment of the 408’s new-style grille, something we’ll see feature on other new models from Peugeot – the recipe underneath is based on known technology.

The 408 is underpinned by the latest evolution of Peugeot’s EMP2 platform and will be powered by a single pure-petrol engine as well as plug-in hybrid powertrains from its launch in early 2023. The brand has also confirmed a fully electric variant – likely to be called the e-408 – will follow “a few months later.”

The only non-electrified version will be the entry-level 128bhp 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol unit – and even this will be replaced by a mild-hybrid variant at the end of 2023, the firm says.

The pair of plug-in powertrains consists of Peugeot’s 178bhp Hybrid 180 and the 222bhp Hybrid 225. Both variants use the same 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine mated to an electric motor that’s fed by a 12.4kWh battery, which will take one hour and 55 minutes to charge from a 7kW wallbox.

At the time of going to press, final homologated range, performance and efficiency figures had not yet been confirmed, but for reference the 308, and 508 and 3008 PHEVs that use the same plug-in hybrid system can cover up to 37 and 39 miles respectively, so similar figures for the 408 seem likely.

All engines are mated exclusively to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, so expect the 1.2 petrol to accelerate from 0-62mph in around 10 seconds. The electric assistance from the plug-in hybrids means they’ll both be quicker despite carrying extra weight, so the Hybrid 225 could dip below 8.5 seconds for the same benchmark sprint.

Project Design Director Pierre-Paul Mattei told us that the 408’s design and positioning is the key to this new model, however.

“The new 408 started a few years ago with the objective of reinventing the saloon. The driving position is dynamic – higher than a saloon but not even as high as a coupe-SUV. It’s for people looking for something new. It’s a very dynamic saloon with the feeling of modern Peugeot DNA.

“Nothing is neutral on this car,” he said. “Everything is doing something. The design treatment is different to what we’ve been used to at Peugeot. It’s sharper, a diamond-faceted design. It’s disruptive. Take the [optional] 20-inch wheels, we tried to integrate the square pattern into a circle.”

At 4.69 metres long with a 2.79m wheelbase, the 408 is relatively long, and at 1.48m tall the feel is more of a raised-up saloon than a coupe-SUV.

Compared with the intricate grille, in profile the 408’s lines are relatively simple, defined by smooth surfaces intersected by sharp creases and a more rounded shoulder line. The rear-end design is as elaborate as the front, with the lower plastic part of the bumper creating an “inverted cut-out” as part of the high-set, chopped-off tail with the aim of reducing its visual mass and reinforcing the 408’s raised stance. The car will come in six body colours, including this new Obsession Blue.

Despite the 408’s sleek profile, which also helps reduce drag to 0.28Cd, there’s been a significant focus on practicality, as Mattei told us. “Roominess was really a challenge with this car, it offers the most kneeroom in the rear of all the Peugeot range, at 188mm. It’s a worldwide car that integrates expectations for spaciousness from the Chinese market.”

Incorporating those requirements should be beneficial for European customers too, and sitting in the car at the 408’s unveiling we found there to be a good level of space. Despite the low roofline Peugeot claims plenty of headroom too, with little relief areas in the roof at the rear to boost space.

When it comes to luggage room, the ICE version offers 536 litres with the rear seats in place rising to 1,611 litres with the backrests folded down, while the PHEV models serve up 471 litres with the rear seats up due to the battery eating into space.

The dash design is the same as the 308 hatchback’s, so the 408 also boasts Peugeot’s evolution of its i-Cockpit interior layout, including the centrally mounted 10-inch i-Connect Advanced infotainment system with the brand’s latest touch-sensitive i-Toggles mounted lower down.

Alongside this latest infotainment set-up, which features over-the-air update capability and Peugeot’s voice recognition tech, the 408 will also be available with plenty of advanced kit, such as a 10-speaker Focal stereo, matrix LED headlights, the ability to connect two smartphones through the latest connectivity packages, four USB ports and wireless charging. A powered tailgate with a foot-activated sensor and heated seats will also be available, plus Peugeot’s latest semi-autonomous driving tech.

The brand’s Drive Assist 2.0 package brings semi-automatic lane changing, while adaptive  cruise control with lane follow and lane keep assist also feature. There’s a night vision system, as well as cross traffic alert and long-range blind spot monitoring all on offer, while Peugeot has developed thicker, laminated windows, available as an option, to further improve refinement.

The 408 will be available in Allure and GT trim levels. Pricing hasn’t yet been outlined, but the new car could start from around £30,000 when it goes on sale towards the end of the year.

Click here for our list of the best plug-in hybrid cars on sale right now...

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