TEST – With its new family, the Sochaux manufacturer tries the ideal synthesis between the sedan and the SUV.
Post-SUV: all manufacturers are thinking about it. Sometimes for a long time. At Peugeot, the first projects date back to 2014, when the current 3008 did not yet exist. The research of the French manufacturer has just given birth to the 408, a model halfway between a sedan and an SUV. From the EMP2 platform of the 308 stretched by 110 mm, the designers have given birth to a silhouette that could confuse the followers of the Sochaux brand. Taking the risk of doing a little too much, the new model stands out in the landscape. We will have to get used to this new aesthetic expression that we will undoubtedly find with other manufacturers.
It is based on a particular balance of shape, reflecting a plunging 308 bonnet associated with swollen rear fenders, endless side glazing that follows an elongated fastback-like profile – to the detriment of rearward visibility – and an imposing bumper. black plastic back. In the end, the 408 turns out to be barely 60 mm shorter than the top-of-the-range 508 and 240 mm longer than the 3008. You can see the full benefit of this by sitting in the really spacious rear seats, except for the middle one, which is hardly welcoming. Camped on 720 mm diameter wheels, the new model evolves 70 mm higher than the 508 but 145 mm lower than the Franc-Comtois SUV.
After the surprise effect of a line that does not lack audacity, we find ourselves on familiar ground by settling on board. The presentation and the opulent atmosphere come from the 308. We thus find the latest evolution of the Peugeot i-Cockpit, with the small double-flat steering wheel and the elaborate dashboard in two parts. Once again, this arrangement does not lend itself to all sizes and, to perceive the information from the instrumentation screen, some will have to drive with the steering wheel on their knees. Compared to that of the Renault Austral, the graphics of the screens seem dated. The slowness of access to the functions of the multimedia system confirms our belief that the Stellantis group took too long in developing a new interface. The configuration of its shortcuts on the touch bar located under the central screen somewhat compensates for this inconvenience and above all allows you to select a function without taking your eyes off the road.
A great sobriety
Following a trend that is set to develop, Peugeot has simplified the range which consists of three engines including two plug-in hybrids and three trim levels. An electric version is planned for 2024. To access the top of the range, the Hybrid 225 hp GT version, you will still have to pay 51,400 euros. This model inherits the electrified technology already widely deployed on the French brands of the Stellantis group, namely the 4-cylinder 1.6 liter turbo 180 hp associated with a 110 hp electric machine and a 12.4 kWh battery. The set displays a cumulative power of 225 hp and a torque of 360 Nm. Peugeot announces an electric range of 63 km, which gives it CO2 emissions of 26 g/km (1.2 l/100 km). In reality, we are closer to 40 km. As always with a plug-in hybrid vehicle, the actual consumption depends on use and the frequency of recharging. Count 1 hour 40 on a wallbox with the optional 7.4 kW charger.
Following on from the latest Peugeots, the 408 has extremely rigorous road handling. The performances are there and the times are superior to the Austral (4.5 seconds to go from 80 to 120 km/h). If the approval is high, offering a good compromise between comfort and dynamism, the management of the eight-speed automatic transmission deserves more response and fluidity. We cannot too strongly suggest favoring the 19-inch wheels rather than the optional 20-inch mounts, which are less comfortable on low-speed bleeding and degraded roads. With the plug-in hybrid engine, it will also be necessary to accept a reduced trunk volume of 65 liters (471 liters) and even 82 liters with the Focal hi-fi system.
If the silhouette is brought to school, we regret that Peugeot did not go to the end of the idea of a dynamic sedan by giving up offering the 300 hp plug-in hybrid version. It’s not too late to change your mind.