There’s no denying Peugeot’s latest 408, which includes plug-in hybrid technology, is a true head-turner.
Its striking design is certainly different, in a positive way. However, the question I get asked most often about the 408 is, ‘what is it, exactly?’
I must admit, there’s no real easy answer. Is it a hatchback, a crossover SUV or a coupé? Is it a hatchback coupé? A coupé crossover SUV? Or a crossover hatchback?
To be honest, I haven’t yet come to a defining conclusion; apart from the fact, it’s definitely different. And Peugeot should be applauded for creating it.
The French company labels the 408 a ‘C-segment fastback’. Okay, I get it. I can live with fastback. It’s got four doors and combines elements of an SUV and a hatchback. In terms of pricing, at £31,050 to £46,500, Peugeot has pitched the 408 between the 308 estate and 3008 crossover. Competition? The closest is probably the Kia XCeed.
And the 408 is something of a looker. Peugeot’s stylists have done a really fine job in making the 408 distinctive. It’s a bold design, most noticeably with the sculpted rear-wheel arches and bold LED lighting signatures. It’s also worth noting the retro-inspired script for the badging, plus the quirky ‘cat’s ears’ at the top of each C pillar. In addition to hiding the extra metal needed to balance headroom against the desired coupé aesthetic, Peugeot says they help improve airflow.
A bit like the outside, it’s adventurous! Thanks to a big boot and good rear passenger space, it’s immensely practical, even when set against conventional mid-sized SUV rivals.
There’s style by the bucketload, and this is further supported by the incorporation of premium materials and crisp digital displays.
Perhaps the elephant in the room — well, cabin — is the i-Cockpit set-up. This invites drivers to interpret the instrument display over a small steering wheel. Both — the i-Cockpit and small steering wheel — still tend to divide opinion. Personally, I think they’re great, especially the 3D-effect display which looks pretty cool. Just make sure when you test the 408 that your driving position allows you to see the instrument cluster over the top of the steering wheel.
Thinking of making the switch to electric?
One thing which is unquestionably excellent is the new 10-inch infotainment touchscreen. Already seen on the 308, it responds fairy quickly to your inputs, plus it looks slick. More importantly, the strip of large touch-sensitive keys for the various menus ensures they’re simple to use while driving. And that means less time with your eyes off the road.
It’s impressively roomy, with enough space in the rear for a couple of six-footers to stretch their legs. Boot space, as well, is impressive, with up to 536 litres of stowage space. That drops slightly to 471 litres in the PHEV. The boot is further supplemented by a 60/40-split folding rear bench and a wide-opening rear hatch.
In terms of engines, Peugeot bosses have done their best to make sure there’s something for everyone. And the availability of plug-in technology is certainly something of a sweetener.
The two plug-in options are the badged Hybrid 180 (178bhp) and Hybrid 225 (222bhp), with both mating a 108bhp e-motor and 1.6-litre petrol unit. And like the entry-level 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol version, they all use a version of Peugeot’s eight-speed EAT (Efficient Automatic Transmission) gearbox.
The three-cylinder 129bhp petrol delivers performance which will be perfectly adequate for the majority of owners, with 0-62mph recorded in 10.4 seconds and a top speed of 130mph. Peugeot quotes the PureTech petrol will return between 41mpg and 48mpg, with CO2 emissions of 133 to 156g/km.
The Hybrid 180 and Hybrid 225 models are faster. Both PHEV units deliver the same 266Nm maximum torque and there’s only 0.3 seconds difference between the 0-62mph times (8.1 seconds for the Hybrid 180 and 7.8s for the Hybrid 225). Both have a top speed of 140mph. CO2 emissions are between 24-30g/km.
The 12.4kWh battery, charged via a 3.7kW onboard charger — there’s also an optional 7.4kW charger which is worth considering — will give the driver 40 miles of official WLTP EV range. Though don’t expect to achieve that in real-world driving.
Of course, the plug-in hybrids have an eye-wateringly attractive WLTP combined cycle fuel economy of 215mpg for the Hybrid 180 or 211mpg from the Hybrid 225. It might be possible to get close to those figures, but you would need to be near fanatical in terms of recharging to achieve them. In the real world? Expect closer to 45mpg … plus your 25 miles or so all-electric.
There is. They run from the entry-level Allure to the Allure Premium to the GT. And as is now common with most newly launched models, there’s also a limited run First Edition model. As I mentioned earlier, prices range from £31,050 to £46,500.
All models get Peugeot’s i-Cockpit and the i-Connect Advanced infotainment system which essentially mean a 10-inch central touchscreen and a 10-inch digital instrument display. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, while navigation with live traffic updates and over-the-air software updates are also available.
The Allure entry-level trim gets ambient lighting for the cabin, a reversing camera, LED headlights with Peugeot’s Smartbeam auto-dipping functionality, plus 17-inch alloys. Allure Premium adds adaptive cruise control and various other driver assist systems, plus keyless entry and 19-inch alloys.
Step up to the GT and you get Peugeot’s Driver Sport pack which adds a selection of driving modes, including Normal, Eco and Sport, plus Hybrid and Electric for the plug-in hybrid models. These alter the throttle, gearbox settings and the steering weighting. The GT also gets 3D technology for the instrument display, plus large Peugeot lion badges on the front doors.
If you’re looking for a stylish family car that will fit mum, dad and the kids, plus a decent amount of luggage, then it’s definitely worth checking out the 408.
The big dilemma is petrol or PHEV? The plug-in hybrid will certainly work if you’re buying it as a company car, with a benefit-in-kind rate of 8% for the hybrid and 32% for the petrol.
Also, factor in the purchase price. If you opt for the mid-spec Allure Premium trim — which is probably the best car to go for — then you’re looking at £32,175 for the pure petrol, but it leaps to £40,825 for the 180 hybrid or £42,225 for the 225. If it was me? I’d seriously look at the 408 Allure Premium 1.2 PureTech petrol.
Powertrain: 1.2-litre 3cyl petrol
Transmission: Eight-speed auto, front-wheel drive
Top speed / 0-62mph: 130mph / 7.8secs
CO2 emissions: 133g/km