Test Drive : Peugeot 408 PHEV 225 e-EAT8 : how good is the poor man’s Urus ?

If you like to stand out, the Peugeot 408 is a very tempting offer. Its coupe- crossover lines are eye-catching, even more so in ‘Obsession Blue’. That color is particularly attractive in the summer sunshine. Its hatchback silhouette and high stance are a real eye-catcher and the car manages to preserve enough room for the rear passengers and the boot. Mind you, the PHEV cargo space is a bit less generous as batteries reduce it. Remembering that this 408 is based on the same platform as the Citroën C5-X means some people are luckier than others in life.

The interior is in line with the latest Peugeot offerings. However, the brand just went further with the new even more driver-centric 3008 i-cockpit. We’ll come back to it later on. Once inside the 408, the driver is pampered with screens including a 3D speedometer, just a shame yours truly cannot see things in 3D. The small steering wheel is still there and we have to admit that slowly but surely, we are getting used to it. In this case, being unable to see the bottom part of the screen is not a real problem as no essential info is displayed there. The front seats are perfectly suited for all types of drivers and the adjustable central part will suit even the sportiest ones among them.

I like it

Let’s be honest, it’s always good for your own pride to be seen in an car that looks like no other. Being fairly new and not yet seen in large numbers on the street, the 408 caught the eye of many motorists, particularly those who are nearly lying in their old-fashioned BMWs with tinted side windows… the best was yet to come : we had a good laugh when a kid from our parents’ village  asked us if it was the new Peugeot Urus ! In short, Peugeot’s new design is just right. The lion logo adorning the front wings  is reminiscent of a well-known Italian carmaker and might not be that pretentious, after all.

Quite clever

Without being sporty, whatever the claimed power is – we would never describe a PHEV in that way – the 408 has a playful character and is very pleasant to drive on a daily basis. The controls are smooth, the way it moves is always easy and reassuring and its 225 bhp are readily available when needed. The steering and braking are lifted from the 408 Performance and are not overly precise. We enjoyed the fact that the brake pedal didn’t betray us, like on many PHEVs which brake only once you push the pedal really far.

I don’t like it

Our biggest disappointment was the claimed electric range with a fully charged battery. Doing more than 34 km was impossible and even worse, we never had the feeling of such a long range being available during city journeys. We don’t thnk it’s a good idea that the car always starts in electric mode as you can quickly drain out all the available power. The small 40 litre petrol tank means regular trips to petrol stations. ICE 408s have a bigger 52 litre tank and it’s all the better for their range.

Why I buy it

The Peugeot 408 is attractively designed and should please many people. Its well-designed and nicely fit and finished interior will delight 21st century motorists. Even if they can’t be fully customized, the large screens display loads of information and should eventually win over the more sceptical users. There’s also a three-dimensional display but some might not like it.  Above all, comfort is great and it’s easy to get a perfect driving position, no matter what is the driver’s size. Even though the small 1.6 engine mated to an electric engine’s power is adequate in most situations, it will hardly impress genuine petrolheads. We were also impressed by the roominess available in the back, no mean feat with such a rear roof rake!

Why I don’t buy it

The most powerful 408 starts from €50,185. It’s not cheap but in line with its power level and performance. However, this is no sportscar, even if its shape might suggest otherwise. While a Lamborghini Urus is a high performance car even on a racetrack, the 408 will get you from A to B at a leisurely pace, in complete safety. At 1,750 kg, it’s quite heavy and i twill remind you of its weight if you take some bends with too much enthusiasm.  The 1.2 Puretech petrol 408 is somewhat lighter at 1,437 kg. The elecric range could be better. During our 500 km test, we averaged just 4.9 litres/100 km and we didn’t overtly charge it, not bad at all. (Translation: Dimitri Urbain)

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