Peugeot 408 long-term test: report 1

Can the sleek Peugeot 408 deliver substance to match its style? We're living with one to find out...

Peugeot 408 LT front 3-4

The Car Peugeot 408 1.2 Puretech GT Run by Jonty Renk, senior videographer

Why it’s here To prove that an executive car can turn heads and still be a fantastically comfortable and practical companion for long journeys

Needs to Be spacious enough for both passengers and video equipment, frugal in town and on the motorway, and as inspiring to drive as it is to look at

Mileage 8215 List price £28,085 Target Price £26,475 Price as tested £28,085 Official economy 48.1mpg Test economy 40.3mpg  Options fitted Xlixir Red varnish paint (£850), Drive Assist 2.0 (£500), 360deg Vision (£450) and wireless phone charger (£100)

12 December 2023 – Breaking the mould

The stunning Peugeot 408 has appealed to me ever since it was launched earlier this year. Being completely new and exciting among the wash of grey SUVs and saloons I see on the motorway, the 408 reminds me of how important it is to do things differently and try new ideas.

Driving the 408

After all, in any job, it’s always exciting to be involved in something a little different from your day-to-day tasks. Don’t get me wrong; as a videographer for What Car? I really enjoy working on our in-depth, detailed reviews of cars – it’s the bread-and-butter of the What Car? YouTube channel. But when the chance comes along to work on big-scale multi-day shoots on a drag strip or in a quarry; I’m always keen to try something different and embrace a new challenge.

So, imagine the fights that broke out at Peugeot’s head office when the first design briefs came through for the 408. The French manufacturer intended to build a brand-new model, with no predecessor to determine how it “should” look, combining chunky SUV looks with a svelte coupe roofline. Here was something far from ordinary, a chance for designers to let their hair down – apparently everyone wanted to work on it.

And although styling is of course subjective, I think the chosen few knocked it out of the park with the 408.

Peugeot 408 Rear

It’s a car that from a distance (quite far away, admittedly) would almost make you think it’s a low-slung sports car, but close up, and certainly inside, this is an out-and-out SUV with head-turning looks. 

I’m glad to have gotten my hands on the 408, then, and speccing it up was a refreshingly simple process.

There are only two choices of power – a plug-in hybrid which combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine with an electric motor, and a 1.2-litre petrol engine. I can’t charge electric or plug-in hybrid cars at home, and I’m quite a high-mileage driver, so I opted for the latter, believing it to better suit my needs. The fact it was £8000 cheaper than the plug-in sealed the deal.

Choosing the spec was an easy process, too, because there are only three. And because I saved money on the engine choice, I felt no guilt in going for top-spec GT trim. I also thought that, for buyers looking at a stylish car like this, they might have a similar go-big-or-go-home approach.

Peugeot 408 Interior

GT is a £2500 jump up from mid-spec Allure Premium and adds adaptive LED headlights and a heated steering wheel (both of which will be useful during winter driving), and a hands-free electric tailgate (which will really help when loading my video kit into and out of the back) to the already impressive roster of standard kit.

I still felt the need to dive into the options list, though – starting with paint. I was instantly drawn to the Elixir Red of my car which, although quite expensive at £850, I think really makes the car stand out. Peugeot only offers Obsession Blue as standard, or three other colour choices for £650, but personally I think it is worth the extra outlay.

I’ve also added the 360deg camera because I’m often parking in tight spots around town, and want to do my best to protect the 19in alloy wheels. Elsewhere, Drive Assist 2.0 brings steering assistance on the motorway (to go with adaptive cruise) to help take the stress out of the many stop-start motorway miles I have to do while travelling for work. I also added a wireless phone charger for £100. 

Peugeot 408 Front

With all of its toys, then, to go along with a peppy petrol engine and standout looks, I feel as inspired by my Peugeot 408 as I might be if I were standing in front of a work of art. I can only hope that over the next few months of ownership, that feeling won't fade.

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