Peugeot 408 review
A stylish and capable family car, the Peugeot 408 isn’t quite as sporty as its bold looks suggest…
The Peugeot 408 certainly has style, particularly in the cabin where the premium materials and crisp digital displays really help it stand out. This doesn’t come at the expense of substance, either. The 408 is a coupe SUV that gives very little away on practicality, thanks to a big boot and good rear passenger space, even compared to conventional mid-size SUV rivals.
The adventurous exterior design might divide opinion, as will the i-Cockpit setup, which invites drivers to peer at the instrument display over a small steering wheel. The 408 is a practical, comfortable car that doesn’t quite live up to the promise of the sporty design in the handling stakes. It also gets better as you ascend the trim level range and gain more of Peugeot’s desirable technology features.
Our choice: Peugeot 408 GT 1.2 Puretech petrol
About the Peugeot 408
The news that Peugeot was launching a new car called 408 may have caused people of a certain age to recall the Peugeot 405 and 406 family saloons from the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s that went up against famous names like Mondeo, Vectra and Passat in the D-segment’s golden age. The subsequent 407 of 2004 is probably better forgotten, partly due a face only its mother could love, and by that stage buyers were moving on. Today, traditional large family cars aren’t bought in anything like those numbers, prompting Peugeot to follow the money with the 408.
What we have here is what Peugeot calls a ‘C-segment fastback’. It combines elements of hatchback, SUV and four-door coupe to occupy a niche within the Peugeot range between the 308 hatchback, the 3008 SUV and the 508, which is Peugeot’s current take on the large family car genre.
The 408 is longer overall than the Peugeot 308 SW Estate and has a significantly longer wheelbase for more interior space, but there’s also a roofline that slopes away to the rear calling to mind large modern fastbacks like the electric Polestar 2 and Kia EV6. Elsewhere in the Stellantis group the Citroen C5 X offers much the same package.
Inevitably, buyers looking in this area of the market may also be considering more design-led mid-size SUVs like the Cupra Formentor, Mercedes GLA, BMW X2 or even the Range Rover Evoque. The 408 has the chunky bumpers and cladding along the sills and wheelarches familiar from the SUV class, establishing an obvious visual connection to those models.
So we have a car that’s tricky to pigeonhole but that offers a mix of qualities on paper that should appeal to a broad cross section of buyers. The availability of plug-in hybrid powertrains alongside the standard 129bhp 1.2-litre PureTech three-cylinder turbo petrol extends that appeal a bit further. The two plug-in options are badged Hybrid 180 (178bhp) and Hybrid 225 (222bhp) and like the entry-level petrol model they come equipped with a version of Peugeot’s eight-speed EAT (Efficient Automatic Transmission) gearbox.
Trim levels run from the entry-level Allure through Allure Premium to GT, but there’s also a limited run First Edition model, as is so often the case on new cars these days. Prices are in the £31,000 to £45,000 range and all models get Peugeot’s i-Cockpit and the i-Connect Advanced infotainment system that manifests itself on a 10-inch central touchscreen and a 10-inch digital instrument display. There’s connected navigation available with live traffic updates and over-the-air software updates but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity are also standard.
The entry-level Allure variants have 17” alloy wheels, LED headlights with Peugeot’s Smartbeam auto-dipping functionality, a reversing camera and ambient lighting for the cabin. The Allure Premium adds 19” wheels, ‘Open & Go keyless entry, adaptive cruise control and various other driver assist systems.
The GT models have design upgrades including large Peugeot lion badges on the front doors and 3D technology for the instrument display. The Driver Sport pack brings driving modes (Normal, Eco and Sport, plus Hybrid and Electric for the plug-in hybrid models) that alter the steering, throttle and gearbox settings.
The 408 is a car with a lot of technology features and a really special feeling cabin so we feel the plush GT trim is well worth splashing out on to get the full benefit. Probably in conjunction with the base petrol engine, rather than the hybrid options.
For an alternative review of the Peugeot 408, visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk...
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingA stylish and capable family car, the Peugeot 408 isn’t quite as sporty as its bold looks suggest…
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe 408 can’t quite deliver the sporty drive its looks suggest but it’s nimble enough and very comfortable when cruising
- 3MPG, CO2 & running costsRunning costs should be manageable, though the plug-in hybrids are unlikely to match their official figures so the cheaper petrol model makes the most sense
- 4Interior, design & technologyPeugeot designed the 408 to stand out from the crowd and it does. The high-class cabin with well integrated tech is a real strong point
- 5Practicality, comfort & boot spaceThe 408 is more practical than it looks with a large boot and generous space for families.
- 6Reliability & safetyA detailed standard safety kit list counts in the 408’s favour and Peugeot is a brand that’s on the up in terms of customer satisfaction.