Peugeot 408 long-term test

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

Stood with Peugeot 408

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 13,472 List price £34,695 Target Price £31,347 Price as tested £28,085 Test economy 39.9mpg Official economy 48.1mpg Dealer value now £27,022 Private Value now £24,020 Running Costs (excluding depreciation) Fuel £961.61

18 March 2024 – Style icon

If you went back 20 years, lined up Peugeot’s new cars in a row and placed my Peugeot 408 somewhere in the middle, I reckon it would stand out as much as a spaceship would.

The brand's current styling is, to my eyes, among the most distinctive and attractive of all mainstream car brands – and I think the Peugeot 408 is the best of the lot.

Sat by Peugeot 408

From the LED light “fangs” at the front to the so-called “fastback” design at the back, my car is dramatic to look at – especially so in my Elixir Red paint. In fact, its look has led more than one colleague to comment on this car’s tongue-in-cheek likeness to the Ferrari Purosangue – a model which, as you might imagine, is vastly more expensive. As I get ready to hand the keys back, I’ll definitely miss those head-turning looks.

It’s not just the outside of the 408 which I’ve liked. I got on straight away with the 408’s i-Cockpit interior, which can be hit-and-miss in some cars if you're either very small or very tall, because it has you looking over a small steering wheel at the instruments, rather than through it.

I found that even with the small wheel I had plenty of adjustment to get a comfortable driving position, which allowed a full view of the 10in digital driver display, even with my six-foot frame.

It was also great having the centre console angled slightly towards me in the driver’s seat, making it easy to see and reach the infotainment system and other controls there. However, I’ve not gotten on entirely with other bits of the 408's technology, and I think Peugeot’s infotainment department would do well to understand that, sometimes, less is more.

408 Infotainment System

For example, when you go to a different menu page, the entire screen turns into a fanfare of a transition as if to celebrate and make a show of the process of changing from the air-conditioning to the media settings. It would be much better, I think, if the screen instantly hopped from one menu to another rather than having a fancy transition every time.

Rather than getting used to this, I got more and more frustrated with it. Especially because the transition itself was often quite laggy and glitchy.

I was also only able to get Apple CarPlay to work roughly 80% of the time (it would often just drop out or not connect in the first place), which was annoying since its ability to read WhatsApp messages while I'm out and about keeps me in touch with the office.

The only way I could get it working reliably was to have my phone plugged in via USB cable, which then negated having the wireless phone charger I'd specced.

All of that is a shame, because the 408's plush materials, top-notch build quality and comfortable driving position were all great to live with, but the technology was a regular source of frustration.

408 cockpit while driving

Still, whenever I felt stressed about the infotainment system, I was glad to be able to turn on my massage seat to relax a little.

This was one of the many reasons I was really pleased I went for range-topping GT trim, because I not only had the luxury of a massage, but also a heated steering wheel and matrix LED headlights which gave me maximum visibility without dazzling oncoming drivers.

Elsewhere, the 360-degree parking camera has been fantastic in helping me to park without incident, and the 408 gave me my first taste of life with an electric tailgate which I could open by just waggling my foot under the rear bumper – something I will now be looking for on any other cars I drive.

Not all of the Peugeot's systems worked well, though. If I had my time again, for example, I would hesitate to add the optional Drive assist 2.0 feature for steering assistance on the motorway, because I’d regularly be told to “hold the steering wheel” by the driver display while I was using it, despite the fact that both my hands were indeed on the wheel.

408 at golden hour

As for my engine choice, I got on well with the 128bhp  1.2-litre Puretech petrol engine. This is a small turbocharged three-cylinder petrtol unit, but it was a great cruiser on the motorway. It was, however, let down at low speeds by the lazy automatic gearbox, which I’ve spoken about previously

Overall, I had my frustrations with some of the tech and the gearbox, but the 408 has been a great companion for a travelling videographer, as well as turning heads wherever I went. I’m excited to see how Peugeot’s styling will develop over the next 20 years.

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