With the Peugeot 408, the variety of styles increases – but not the wealth of technical variants, because like most Stellantis models, the new model is based on the EMP2. Technical relatives would be the DS 4 E-Tense 225 and the Opel Astra Plug-in Hybrid, which we have already tested.
Although the wheelbase of the crossover-style compact model is the same as that of the Citroën C5 X, which is also structurally almost identical at 2.79 meters, Peugeot has given the 408 a more dynamic look. The designers achieved this by adding more than three centimeters to the width and shortening the overall length by about twelve centimeters to 4.69 meters. More elegant than a classic SUV, despite the shape of a four-door coupe with the flat silhouette of a fastback, it should offer the same space and increased ground clearance.
The range of engines in the Peugeot 408 is the same as the C5 X. The basis is a turbocharged three-cylinder 1.2 hp 96 kW in a front transverse configuration for the basic model available from 38,800 euros. In the plug-in hybrid with 165 kW, the 1.6-liter four-cylinder with a turbo is supported by an electric motor with an output of 81 kW. A PHEV with a system output of 132 kW will follow a little later. All Peugeot 408s are only available with an eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.
The lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 12.4 kWh should enable a range of 62 kilometers on pure electric drive. The on-board charger has a power of 3.7 kW, for an additional charge 7.4 kW. Since the latter is also only single-phase, in Germany, due to the unbalanced load limit in the home garage, a maximum of 4.6 kW can usually be used with one of the subsidized wall boxes only 3.7 kW. In this country, higher charging power can usually only be taken from the public charging infrastructure. The total charging time of the battery varies between almost two and more than seven hours depending on the charging capacity.
i-Cockpit with mini steering wheel
Peugeot retains the i-cockpit configuration with instruments above the steering wheel, which only partially replaces the head-up display found in the almost identical Citroën C5 X. The ten-inch digital instrument cluster can be individually designed and has different display modes for navigation, media, assistance systems and flow energy.
Interior space is generous, although the middle seat is quite narrow for three adult rear passengers. Legroom restrictions are few and passengers up to almost 1.90 meters tall will not run out of headroom that quickly. The trunk offers a capacity of 471 to 1,545 liters in the PHEV and can carry objects up to 1.89 meters long when the rear seatbacks are asymmetrically split or fully folded.
Clever, direct and precise
One of the biggest surprises of the 1.8-tonne Peugeot 408 Hybrid 225 is its driving characteristics. The combination of stability and comfort is excellent, despite the majestic 20-inch model with 245/40 tires, there are almost no unevenness or excessive rolling movements in fast corners in the interior. The small steering wheel not only creates a practical feel, but the steering also feels correspondingly direct and precise.
Part of the PHEV-408’s dynamic balance can be attributed to a more balanced front-to-rear weight distribution: 57:43 compared to the petrol version’s 60:40, although its impressive 300kg lighter weight is always noticeable. The brake works very progressively and reacts quickly to pressing the pedal. It takes at least a little getting used to.
Silence in the interior
Thicker-than-Peugeot windscreens have been used for acoustic insulation, and top-of-the-line versions benefit from double-glazed front windows that pleasantly reduce wind noise. But the rolling noise of the wide tires does not allow the Peugeot to penetrate too loudly into the interior.
We experienced this on a short drive in a more powerful version for at least 51,050 euros. Their system output of 165 kW delivers good but not sporty driving performance. From the start, the top model accelerates to 100 km/h in 7.9 seconds, with a maximum speed of 233 km/h.
Seemingly effortless and tear-free
The balanced eight-speed automatic transmission in conjunction with the electric motor creates an impression that corresponds to the comfortable agility of the crossover at every moment. It shifts effortlessly and smoothly from fifth to second gear when needed, but shifts up just as quickly once high torque is no longer needed.
The drive seamlessly fits into the emotional positioning that Peugeot has devised for its new coupe SUV. However, it is a matter of taste, always with the alternative of the technically almost identical Citroën 5C X, DS4 225 or Opel Astra PHEV (test) within reach. Those who find the offer interesting, do not like plug-in hybrids or do not suit their user profile, must (or can) be patient: Peugeot has announced a battery version for the end of 2023.