What Car? says...
The Peugeot 408 is a bit of an outlier. You see, while the majority of new cars these days are a replacement for something else, it’s an entirely new model. What’s more, its coupé SUV design means that it doesn’t fit particularly well into any specific box.
Indeed, just like the closely related Citroën C5 X, the 408 blurs the lines between traditional coupés like the BMW 4 Series, estate cars like the Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake and SUVs like the Cupra Formentor.
To help it in its mission to be a jack-of-all-trades, Peugeot has equipped it with three different engines, giving you the choice of a pure petrol version or a couple of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), and three well-equipped trim levels.
Can the Peugeot 408 buck that trend and prove a better purchase than the C5 X and those other rivals? Read on to find out...
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
At the entry-level end of the Peugeot 408’s engine line-up is the Puretech 130, a 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with 129bhp.
There are also two PHEVs – the Hybrid 180 and the Hybrid 225 – each with a 1.6-litre petrol engine plus an electric motor. The main difference between the two PHEVs is that the Hybrid 225's engine produces more power and gets you up to speed more quickly. An electric car version will be launched later on.
You might expect the entry-level 1.2-litre engine to struggle to propel a car of this size along with any kind of vigour, but acceleration is perfectly respectable, even from low down in the rev range. Thanks to that, and the fact that it keeps the price tag down, it’s our pick of the range.
We’ve yet to drive the Hybrid 180, but we have tested the range-topping Hybrid 225. It’s the quickest option available, covering 0-62mph in a brisk 7.8 seconds, so it’s a doodle to get up to speed. The Hybrid 180 isn’t much slower on paper, covering the same sprint in 8.1 seconds, so we doubt you’ll notice much difference between the two.
The PHEVs have an official electric-only range of 40 miles on standard wheels, but that drops to 39 miles – the same as the Citroën C5 X Hybrid 225 PHEV – if you go for 20in wheels. You might think a one-mile difference isn’t a big deal, but it actually pushes up the company car tax rate that applies.
So, does the hybrid set-up work well? For the most part, yes. Progress is smooth, quick and almost silent in electric mode, and while there can be a slight hesitation in waking up the engine when you want a burst of acceleration, the transition from electric to petrol is pretty slick and performance is strong.
There are notable differences in what the 408 and the C5 X feel like to drive, and the biggest is in the ride. The 408 is firmer and transmits more road imperfections to occupants than the impressively cushioned C5 X, but thanks to the extra stiffness it’s better tied down on undulating roads.
That gives an added benefit when it comes to cornering. Unlike with the soft and sometimes wallowy C5 X, body roll is comparatively well controlled. What’s more, the steering is smooth and direct, making it easy to tell what the front end is up to through a corner. It’s not the engaging experience you’ll get from the sportier Cupra Formentor but you’ll make easy progress.
At motorway speeds, it's quite hushed inside, with hardly any wind or road noise, and the engines don’t drone loudly when worked hard. When the PHEVs are running on electricity, there’s no engine noise or motor whine.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox is a bit hesitant when setting off (something that’s less noticeable on PHEV models), but it shifts smoothly once you're moving. The brakes are a little grabby and the non-PHEVs' stop-start system is not that smooth, although it's less clunky than in other Peugeots.
Strengths Better body control than the Citroën C5 X; suitably powerful engines; impressive refinement
Weaknesses Hesitant gearbox; brakes are not very smooth
The interior layout, fit and finish
Inside the Peugeot 408 you’ll find a similarly unusual interior set-up to the Peugeot 308 with a high-set digital instrument panel that you’re supposed to look at over the small steering wheel, instead of through it. As such, some people will find that the wheel obstructs their view of the display – it's best to sit in one to find out if it suits you.
You wouldn’t describe the 408’s driving position as lofty when compared to the Peugeot 3008 and other SUVs, but it’s higher than that of the VW Arteon Shooting Brake, giving it more of an SUV feel. Manual lumbar support adjustment for the driver is standard with all trims but electrically adjustable lumbar support is optional on the top GT trim as part of the ‘Seat Pack’.
Your view out of the front window is decent, so you won’t struggle when pulling out of a junction, but rear visibility isn’t quite as good, due to large rear pillars blocking the view over your shoulder.
Luckily, to help when it comes to parking, even the entry-level Allure trim comes with rear parking sensors and a reversing camera, while all other trims also get front parking sensors and a 360-degree camera can be added as an option on the top two trims.
All 408s get a 10.0in touchscreen infotainment system, with a touchscreen panel below it offering customisable shortcut buttons to hop between menus. The system is a little clunky, with a rather confusing layout consisting of small icons that can be tricky to aim for. Fortunately, you get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay so you can bypass the built-in software.
While the Citroën C5 X has physical dials and buttons to control the air-con, on the 408 you have to dive into the touchscreen to adjust it – a process that's much more distracting while you’re driving. That aside, their interiors feel similarly upmarket and plush, with the 408’s materials proving pleasingly squidgy and well constructed.
Strengths Plush-feeling interior; good build quality; driving position feels SUV-like
Weaknesses Infotainment can be clunky; some people will struggle to see driver display
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
There’s lots of space up front in the Peugeot 408, with helpful cubbies dotted around the interior and decent-sized door bins.
It's a long car, so back-seat leg room is better than you’ll find in the Cupra Formentor and similar to what’s on offer in the VW Arteon Shooting Brake. There’s also space to tuck your feet under the front seats.
Unfortunately, the outstanding leg room isn’t matched by equally generous head room. If you’re six feet tall and sitting in the back, the top of your head will just touch the roof, and with the optional sunroof fitted it’s even more restricted.
There are plenty of storage areas, with two cupholders and a small tray in the fold-down centre armrest, storage nets on the back of the front seats and door bins big enough for a drinks bottle.
The rear seats don’t do anything clever, like slide or recline, and they split-fold 60/40 rather than the more practical 40/20/40 offered by the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer. The seats are easy to fold down, with levers in the boot as well as at the top of the backrests, and all 408s have a ski hatch, so longer items can be threaded through the centre backrest while keeping the two seats on either side available for occupants.
The boot has 536 litres of space, which drops to 471 litres if you go for a PHEV variant. The reduction in space for the PHEV is in the underfloor storage, but you’re still left with just about enough room to stuff in a charging cable. Overall, the boot is a tiny bit smaller than in the Citroën C5 X but not by enough to make much difference.
The boot should be big enough for most families’ needs – with the non-hybrid giving you more space than the Audi Q3 Sportback – but can’t match the best estate cars for practicality (the Arteon Shooting Brake offers 590 litres and the Skoda Octavia Estate a mighty 650 litres).
The 408’s boot has hooks and elastic straps to hold a couple of items in place, but you’ll have to go for top-spec GT to get a powered tailgate.
Strengths Lots of front and rear leg room; plenty of interior storage
Weaknesses Limited head room; average sized boot
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
As a cash purchase, the Peugeot 408 costs a few thousand pounds more than the equivalent Citroën C5 X, a similar amount to the Cupra Formentor and less than an Audi Q3 Sportback or VW Arteon Shooting Brake.
The 408 is predicted to depreciate at about the same rate as the C5 X but more quickly than the Q3 Sportback and the Formentor, meaning they might be worth more after three years of ownership.
If you’re a private buyer, the Puretech 130 is the most recommendable engine choice, because it’s the cheapest way into the line-up and there’s quite a jump in price to the PHEV versions. Company car users will be better off going for the Hybrid 180, due to its electric range and low CO2 emissions keeping BIK tax payments down (the optional 20in alloys will put the monthly cost up).
Official figures say the PHEVs can manage up to 270mpg but you’ll need to keep the battery fully charged if you want to get anywhere near that. Both PHEVs have a 3.7kW on-board charger for a charging time of less than three and a half hours using a 7.4kW home wall box. If you pay for the optional 7.4kW on-board charger, the time drops to one hour and 40 minutes.
There are three trim levels to choose from. Entry-level Allure covers the basics but we think it’s worth upgrading to mid-spec Allure Premium. That trim strikes the right balance between cost and equipment, adding useful extras including adaptive cruise control, 19in alloy wheels, laminated front side windows, blind-spot monitoring and front parking sensors.
If you want lots of luxuries, top GT trim isn’t that much of a jump in price and adds niceties including a heated steering wheel, a power-assisted tailgate, matrix LED headlights, fancier materials inside and ambient interior lighting.
The 408 itself wasn’t included in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey but Peugeot as a brand finished 21st out of the 32 included car makers. That places it below Citroën in 14th, but above VW (22nd), Vauxhall (30th) and Cupra (32nd). You get a pretty average three-year/60,000-mile warranty and the PHEVs' battery packs are covered for up to eight years or 100,000 miles.
Despite coming with lots of standard safety equipment, including automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-departure warning, the 408 achieved a disappointing four-star rating when it was crash-tested by safety experts Euro NCAP – the same as the C5 X and the DS 4 – and was mainly let down by a weak level of driver protection in a front impact.
Strengths Plenty of standard equipment; cheaper company car than rivals
Weaknesses Disappointing safety rating; reliability record could be better
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Yes, we think it's pretty good, which is why we've given it four out of five stars. Some estate cars are more comfortable and practical, but the 408 has a high-quality interior and a decent choice of engines.
The fastest 408 is the Hybrid 225 plug-in hybrid (PHEV). That version can officially sprint from 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds. That said, no version feels particularly slow.
|RRP price range||£31,775 - £44,720|
|Number of trims (see all)||2|
|Number of engines (see all)||4|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||petrol, hybrid|
|MPG range across all versions||269.5 - 48.1|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / 60000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£566 / £2,063|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£1,131 / £4,126|