The French carmaker Peugeot is expanding its portfolio with the crossover model 408. At the turn of the year it should close the gap between the 308 and 508. When it comes to design, Peugeot is quite progressive, but initially remains conservative when it comes to the drive and takes its time with the purely electric one.
When it comes to elegant coupés, the name Peugeot used to come up. Some people might like to remember the 504, which was also available as a convertible. Or the slim 406 coupé designed by Pininfarina. The only stylistic gaffe was the 407 Coupé designed in-house. Critics attested to the model's poor proportions and optical overweight. There was a total lack of chic and charm.
The lion brand is now reflecting on the latter with the new 408, which is available at prices starting at around 38,800 euros. The coupé should again attract attention, radiate French avant-garde and clearly stand out from the rest of the range. According to Peugeot, the 408 is positioned at the "upper end of the C segment". This is of course a marketing trick, because at 4.69 meters the model belongs more in the middle class. A 508 is only a few centimeters longer.
Technically, the new 408 is based on the EMP2 architecture, which is also found under the compact 308 series. This saved a lot of money in development. The platform is so flexible that the wheelbase can be stretched a little and the ground clearance can be slightly increased - and a larger body fits on it.
The 408 belongs to the crossover category, in this case it is a mix of a sporty SUV and a coupé sedan. Unusual: Peugeot speaks in modern German of the "fastback look", a term that is more familiar from the Ford Mustang. "The 408 is the first vehicle of its kind, both in the history of the brand and on the car market," says Peugeot brand boss Linda Jackson, "it was designed for car lovers who want to break away from the traditional".
However, the 408 remains quite traditional in terms of its engines. A fully electric version will not be available until early 2024. Partial electrification will take place next spring, initially with a plug-in hybrid, and a second, weaker version will follow shortly after the market launch. They come from the PSA group modular system, or Stellantis, as the brand conglomerate has been called since the beginning of 2021.
The plug-in hybrids have either 132 kW/180 hp or 165 kW/225 hp and are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. These drives are already available in various models from Peugeot, Citroën, DS and Opel, including the battery located in the rear with a capacity of 12.4 kWh. This puts the electric range at a similar level, which should be 64 kilometers in the WLTP cycle.
In this driving mode, the new 408 naturally exudes the most calm and comfort. The electric motor delivers at least 81 kW or 110 hp. But even if the four-cylinder petrol engine comes into play (almost nothing is noticeable), the 408 leaves a harmonious and pleasant impression. It wants to be driven calmly and does not mimic the sportsman who always has to be dynamic around corners. With today's traffic density, it's definitely the smarter way.
Those who have nothing to do with electrification or who do not have the opportunity to charge at home or in the company can also get the 408 with a three-cylinder turbo petrol engine. This delivers 95 kW/131 hp. Peugeot does not serve friends of the diesel engine with the 408, which should disappoint some long-distance drivers.
Drivers of other models from the Löwen brand, at least, don't have to change too much behind the wheel. In the 408, too, the Peugeot designers are sticking to the characteristic i-Cockpit, which has been on the market for ten years and has been installed more than nine million times since then. In the i-Cockpit, the displays are above the steering wheel rim. The steering wheel is therefore significantly smaller than in other cars. However, this arrangement does not offer any real advantages in everyday use. The super-comfortable seats, which have been awarded the AGR label, are terrific.
As expected, the main role in the interior is played by the large touchscreen in the center of the dashboard. TomTom takes over the navigation in real time, the smartphone can be integrated wirelessly, the command "Ok Peugeot" starts the voice control and the system is updated "over the air". A SIM card is permanently installed. A smart invention is the series of so-called i-toggles (touch surfaces) below the screen. The assignment of these fields is configurable, whether for air conditioning, telephone, radio station or another option.
The two rear seat backrests can of course be folded down (40/60 split) and increase the loading volume from 536 liters to 1611 liters, including 36 liters of storage space under the boot floor. But that only applies to the basic version with a combustion engine. In the plug-in hybrids, the battery takes up a lot of space, the volume drops to 471 or 1545 liters.
The modern EMP2 architecture not only creates the conditions for the electrification of the drive, but is also the basis for a whole bundle of driver assistance systems. Up to 30 features are possible. They all get their information from six cameras and nine radar devices. In addition, Peugeot will also offer a so-called Drive Assist 2.0 package, which enables semi-autonomous driving.
The 408 starts at prices from 38,800 euros in the middle equipment "Allure Pack". Among other things, front collision warning, key-free access, ten-inch touchscreen, navigation, reversing camera, rear cross-traffic warning, lane departure warning and blind spot assistant as well as traffic sign recognition are part of the standard equipment. The plug-in version 225 e-EAT8 is significantly more expensive. It starts at 51,050 euros, but also includes the highest equipment line "GT".