Peugeot 408 plug-in test: Strong design – and the technology?

  • OfMarcus Efler

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The slightly different sedan: the Peugeot 408 once again fulfills the French requirement to build individual cars. The drives remain conventional for now.

Is it a crossover? Or a hatchback sedan? Or not a small SUV? If you try to fit the Peugeot 408 into one of the usual car categories, you won’t get very far. One thing is clear: The 4.69 meter long car is striking. A touch higher and of course significantly longer than the Peugeot 308 or Opel Astra, with which the new Frenchman shares the technical basis, but visually it is completely different. Strongly defined lines, a slightly higher ground clearance, a lot of character from the unmistakable front to the massive, black bumper at the rear: this is not a car for everyone, but one for individualists.

Peugeot 408 plug-in test: strong design – does the technology keep pace?

Character with a lion: Peugeot 408.

© Peugeot

And that’s exactly how it should be with this brand from the huge Stellantis group. Peugeot and Citroën had tried to imitate German automotive virtues for too long, when they still had a purely two-person relationship like PSA: ambition instead of esprit. But the latest 408 sharpens the image of the cars with the “lion in front” as dynamic vehicles that offer their passengers as much comfort as possible. Plus as much extravagance as necessary to stand out from the competition.

Besides the exterior design, the interior is the best example of this. The digital cockpit with 3D effect is a bit playful and not quite as Audi-serious. Two contact lists for quick access to the automatic air conditioning system supplement e.g. the middle touch screen, one of them can be freely assigned.

Peugeot 408 plug-in test: i-Cockpit is a matter of taste

The virtual driver’s instrument can be seen above the small, slightly oval steering wheel. “i-Cockpit” Peugeot calls this rather idiosyncratic solution, which nine million customers already use. Steering a relatively stately car with a steering wheel the size of a sports car has its own appeal. But it’s also clear: if you don’t like it that way, you won’t warm to the Peugeot 408.

In any case, it does not affect the objective driving characteristics. Fortunately, the developers of the Peugeot 408 refrained from participating in the race for the most sporty set-up. The customer gets exactly what he expects from a modern French car: relaxed movement, supported by numerous modern assistance systems and in very good seats. When it comes down to it, the sedan can also be dynamically shot through curves.

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A matter of taste: the massive rear bumper.

© Peugeot

The right drive is of course important here, and Peugeot provides it in the plug-in version that was available for the test drive. The system output of 225 hp includes an 81 kW/110 hp electric motor, which officially enables 64 purely electric kilometers – in practice it is closer to 50, which should be enough to make the daily commute work.

Peugeot 408 plug-in test: electric version is a long time coming

In power mode, the car creeps gently out of the living area, on the open road the driver can choose between “hybrid” and “sport”. If the four-cylinder and the electric motor pack together, it goes well. But if the battery is empty, the 180 petrol hp rumbles a little unwillingly under the bonnet under full load.

Peugeot 408 Hybrid 225
engine/transmission/drive 1.6l petrol + electric/8-speed automatic/for
power/torque 165 kW (225 hp)/360 Nm
Length Width Height 4.69/1.85/1.49 m
load volume 536 – 1,611 litres
Vmax/0-100 km/h 233 km/h/7.9 sec
Consumption/CO2 emissions 1.2 l/100 km/26 g/km
Price 51,050 euros

As is typical for plug-ins, the manufacturer states a consumption of 1.2 liters per 100 kilometers, which is far too low, after the test drive the trip computer showed 5.9. Also due to this discrepancy, the PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle) will lose the environmental bonus from next year. Peugeot is still hoping for a lively demand due to the sporty appearance of this drive.

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Extravagant: “i-Cockpit” with a small steering wheel.

© Peugeot

It is a bit of a shame that Peugeot, although it is actually very solidly positioned as an electric brand, will only launch a pure electric variant in 2024 – and therefore probably lose some customers to Hyundai and Co. For the complete disdain of power cables on the car, there will be a three-cylinder engine with 131 hp, which also marks the entry into the 408 series at 38,800 euros. And the new Frenchman is not only charming, but also has good chances.

List of rubrics: © Peugeot

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