Peugeot has taken the wraps off its new 408 model and, as the name suggests, it sits between the C-segment 308 hatchback and the D-segment 508 fastback. Actually though, Peugeot is claiming that the 408 invents a whole new niche, fitting into its line-up between that 308 and the 3008 crossover. However you pigeonhole it, it's a five-door machine with a large boot, commodious rear seating, a raised ride height and an eye-catching fastback silhouette.
Peugeot 408 fastback design
Though Peugeot has profited from consumer obsession with SUVs as much as any other brand, it reckons that buyers are beginning to look for something new, retaining distinctive looks - and an elevated driving position - but with more focus on efficiency. That's the rationale for the 408 in a nutshell, and the implementation is certainly striking.
Up front, the 408 is obviously from the same school of design as the rest of the current line-up, sharing their sharp detailing, fang-like LED daytime running lamps and distinctive sculpting. The bonnet is particularly shapely, plunging down towards the '408' script at the front and then visually breaking up into the new style of radiator grille that features the main body paint colour to striking effect.
Just as remarkable is the feature line running from the top of the headlights back, emphasising the muscular front wheelarches. The pictured model is the GT, which gets the flat new Peugeot crest on the leading edge of the front doors. It also features an incredibly unusual design of 20-inch alloy wheels, while black plastic cladding lines the wheelarches to give the 408 a hint of crossover appeal. That's continued with a raised ride height.
A kink in the waistline defines the rear haunches of the 408 and leads into a back end that's just as distinctive and interesting as the front of the car. A sharp-edged, split roof spoiler (Peugeot refers to the two pieces as "cat ears") tops a sloped rear window truncated with an integrated spoiler design and a new take on Peugeot's slender claw-like LED rear lights. Below that, the 408's rear bumper is a chunky black affair that appears to protrude from the bodywork.
In terms of size, the 408 is about the same width as the Peugeot 308, but has a considerably longer wheelbase and is much longer overall.
Spacious and high-tech cabin
That extra bodywork is in the name of interior space and comfort. Indeed, Peugeot claims that the 408's rear accommodation is more spacious than any other car it makes. The seat backs split 60:40 and have a ski hatch. Tumbling them forward increases the substantial boot from 536 litres to a maximum of 1,611 litres. The tailgate opens automatically, and the parcel shelf is integrated with it.
Back in the cabin, the latest iteration of Peugeot's i-Cockpit layout should be familiar to anyone that has sat in the new 308, retaining a small steering wheel with the digital instruments viewed above the wheel's rim. In the middle, below the 10-inch touchscreen, is a set of 'i-toggle' touch-sensitive shortcuts that can be configured by the driver.
Electrification and fully-electric
The list of powertrain options is largely the same as that in the Peugeot 308, with the exception of diesel power, as it will never feature in the 408. The 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine kicks off the range with 130hp and an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard. Two plug-in hybrids will be offered, just as in the 308, putting out either 180hp or 225hp. Full details have yet to be released, but expect an official electric range of about 60 kilometres for these. Peugeot has confirmed that an all-electric e-408 model will follow shortly after the rest of the line-up.
Peugeot 408 in Ireland
Our first chance to test drive the new Peugeot 408 should hopefully come before the end of 2022, but it's unlikely that the new car will hit the Irish market until early 2023. Pricing has yet to be confirmed, but taking the 308 and 3008 prices as a guideline, it's expected that the 408 could start at circa €36,000.