Road tests

New Peugeot 408 GT Hybrid 225 2023 review

The boldly styled new Peugeot 408 family car arrives in Britain

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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The 408 will suit those who don’t like the idea of an SUV, as well as Peugeot fans who fancy a 308 but find it a little too pokey inside. Either way, you’re getting a car which is comfortable, decent to drive and has a smart, premium-feeling cabin. The top trim levels and the PHEV are pricey, though.

This is the new Peugeot 408, a car that even its maker isn’t quite sure how to pigeonhole. The brand reckons it falls into several categories and has no direct rival.

The striking shape contains a mash-up of bodystyles: hatchback, fastback, and a bit of SUV. This has been made possible by a body that’s 4,687mm long – 51mm longer than even the 308 SW estate. But the key figure for many will be the increase in wheelbase; at 2,787mm, the 408 stretches 107mm further than the 308. That has given Peugeot a chance to address one of the 308’s biggest flaws: rear passenger space.

Indeed, Peugeot says that the 408 has the most kneeroom of any of its models. There’s more space in the back than in the Honda Civic, and it runs the Skoda Octavia close.

It’s pleasant up front, too. The dashboard design is shared with the 308, and the quality feels more than up to pretty much anything else for similar money. Peugeot’s latest infotainment is a great improvement over past attempts, and the second touch panel below the screen can be customised to pick out a few specific shortcuts. We’d prefer physical climate controls, though.

At 536 litres, the boot capacity is 175 litres up on what you get from a 308. If you go for one of the two plug-in hybrid options, the battery in the back raises the floor slightly and cuts the size to 471 litres. That’s still respectable, though, with enough space under the floor for a charge cable.

The PHEVs sit alongside models using a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 129bhp. Peugeot has also confirmed that a fully electric version will follow later. The PHEV options come with either 178bhp or 222bhp (we’re driving the higher-powered edition here). Both get a 109bhp electric motor, but the 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine offers either 148bhp or 178bhp.

On paper, there’s very little difference between the two, with the lower-powered option covering the 0-62mph dash in 8.1 seconds – only three tenths slower than the top model. It costs £1,400 less, too.

The hybrid powertrain is smooth and quiet in electric mode, and there’s enough performance to cover off the average commute in zero-emission mode. There can be a subtle jolt when the combustion unit kicks in, but the petrol engine is reasonably peaceful, as well.

Performance is adequate rather than impressive, and that fairly laid-back nature is matched by the suspension. While it does a decent job of smothering bumps, we found that the PHEV’s extra weight introduces a touch more bounce around town than in the pure-petrol models.

The extra mass can also be felt in the corners, but in any form the 408 feels fairly competent, if not outstanding. The light steering doesn’t give much feedback, but on the other hand, it makes the car easy to manoeuvre at low speeds.                                                                                           

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According to WLTP figures, both versions of the 408 PHEV can cover 40 miles between charges thanks to their 12.4kWh battery. That’s a vital distance for Peugeot, because it means that the 408 sneaks into eight-per cent Benefit-in-Kind tax band for company car users.

However, on our test, starting with a fully charged battery, mainly urban driving with a brief jaunt towards 40mph on a faster road yielded a range barely over half of the official figure.

Prices for the 408 start from £31,050 for the 1.2 PureTech petrol in the base Allure trim, which comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a reversing camera and traffic-sign recognition.

The range tops out with the GT Hybrid 225. Standard kit includes 19-inch wheels (with 20-inch alloys optional) an electronic tailgate, adaptive cruise control with lane positioning, a heated steering wheel and a 3D effect for the digital instrument panel. However, the prices get punchy at this point, climbing as far as £44,700. That’s just over £2,000 more than the Cupra Formentor eHybrid PHEV in VZ2 trim.

Model: Peugeot 408 GT Hybrid
Price: £44,700
Powertrain: 1.6-litre 4cyl turbo, 12.4kWh battery, 1x e-motor
Power/torque: 222bhp/360Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
0-62mmph: 7.8 seconds
Top speed: 145mph
Economy/CO2: 211.3-269.5mpg/24-30g/km
EV range: 40 miles
On sale: Now
Chief reviewer

Alex joined Auto Express as staff writer in early 2018, helping out with news, drives, features, and the occasional sports report. His current role of Chief reviewer sees him head up our road test team, which gives readers the full lowdown on our comparison tests.

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