Peugeot has jumped on the hottest design trend of the moment to create the 2023 408 coupe crossover. The new c-segment family car’s closest conceptual rivals are the Renault Arkana and its own Citroen C5 X sister, but the 408 will also face off against more conventional opposition like the Skoda Octavia and Ford Focus, proving to buyers that non-premium cars needn ‘t be boring.
The 408 sits, as the name suggests, between the 308 hatch and 508 sedan in size, and probably price, though Peugeot has yet to confirm exactly how much it will cost when European and Chinese sales start in early 2023. But a starting point of around £28,000/€32,000 for the entry level PureTech 1.2 looks like a good bet.
Stellantis’s new STLA Medium architecture won’t be ready for roll-out until 2024 so the 408 makes do with an updated version of the EMP platform found on current Peugeots. It measures 184.7-in (4,690 mm) from end to end, and the fairly long 109.7 in (2,787 mm) wheelbase figure almost exactly matches that of the C5 X, and makes the 408 the roomiest Peugeot of all, the company claims. Both 408 and C5 X also come in at under 59-in (1,500 mm) tall, compared with more like 63-69-in (1,640-1,750 mm) for an SUV.
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The 408 isn’t simply a badge-engineered C5 X, though. It has the same basic layout of four-doors, a sporty liftback rear, and raised ground clearance versus a conventional sedan. But the Peugeot has a bolder face, different window design in the the rear door, squared-off rear styling and body panels characterized by more assertive lines.
Black cladding on the bumpers, wheel arches, and below the doors tries to create a bit of attitude, and ultra-slim LED headlights carry that moody look through to the front end design. The rear styling with its Subaru WRX-style “diaper” rear bumper is arguably less happy, but the two “cat ears” (Peugeot’s words) mounted on the top of the C-pillars to optimize airflow around the rear end are certainly eye catching .
Hybrid powertrains at launch to be followed by pure EV
As with the C5 X, the base engine is a 1.2-liter PureTech triple that makes 128 hp (130 PS) and drives the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Peugeot doesn’t say how fast the 408 goes, but the Citroen with the same powertrain combo needs a fairly leisurely 10.4 seconds to 62 mph (100 km/h), so if you’ve got an ounce of gas (or amps) in your veins, then you’re going to want to upgrade to one of the PHEVs.
Both mate a PureTech 1.6-liter four with an 81 kW (109 hp/110 PS) electric motor, again driving the front wheels only through an eight-speed auto. But while the 408 Hybrid 225’s version of the gas motor makes 178 hp (180 PS) before its electric boost, the Hybrid 180 can only model 148 hp (150 PS). Those 180 and 225 model names refer to the total system output in metric horsepower in each case, which translates to 178 hp and 222 hp. Citroen doesn’t offer the junior version to help us fill in the performance stat blanks in Peugeot’s press material, but we know the 225-equipped C5 X can reach 62 mph in 7.9 seconds.
Also missing from Peugeot’s launch info is the electric driving range of those PHEVs. Maybe Peugeot doesn’t have the finalized numbers. Or maybe it was too embarrassed to tell. Looking again at the C5 X, we can expect a WLTP rating of around 34-38 miles (55-61 km), but probably only 25-30 in real use. Charging the 12.4 kWh battery with the standard 3.7 kW on-board charger is a 3 hr 50 minute affair, but that can be slashed to 1 hr 55 minutes if you fork out for the optional 7.4 kW charger. An all-electric 408 will be added to the range later, Peugeot says.
An edgy interior packed with tech
Peugeot’s interiors are some of the most stylish in the non-premium sector and the 408’s doesn’t disappoint in that regard. You get the company’s now trademark i-Cockpit dashboard comprising a small steering wheel, and a digital instrument display mounted above it. That’s paired with a 10-in central touchscreen mounted lower down on the console, but pulled further toward the driver to make it easy to reach.
The exact specification will vary depending on trim grades and markets, but buyers who really want to trick out their 408s will be able to specify massage seats, nappa leather upholstery, a panoramic roof and a 690 W hifi from French audio brand Focal. And Peugeot has you covered for safety kit, the roll call of gadgets including adaptive cruise control with Stop and Go function, 360-degree parking assistance with four cameras, and night vision. And arriving a few months after launch is a Drive Assist 2.0 package that brings a semi-automatic lane-change function, presumably once the driver has pushed the turn signal stalk.
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