Currently reading: 2023 Peugeot 408 on sale at £31,500, with EV and petrol options
All-new 408 blends best of saloon, hatchback and SUV, with petrol, PHEV and eventually EV powertrains on offer

The 408 is an entirely new model for Peugeot that adds an innovative fastback design to its compact car range, which currently comprises the more conventional Peugeot 308 hatchback and Peugeot 3008 SUV.

Having made its European debut at the Paris motor show last month, the fastback is intended to marry the best of SUVs, hatchbacks and saloons by combining an aerodynamic, coupé-esque silhouette with ample space and good driving dynamics in a relatively compact package.

It is now on sale in the UK, priced from £31,050, ahead of customer deliveries getting under way in the first quarter of next year, with a total of four trim levels and three powertrains available from launch. 

The entry-level Allure car gets a choice of a 128bhp 1.2-litre pure-petrol engine (the cheapest powertrain option) or a 178bhp plug-in hybrid at £38,400. The more powerful 222bhp PHEV option becomes available from Allure Premium trim upwards, from £40,725. 

Capping the line-up is the £45,000 First Edition car, which went on sale last month with bespoke design elements, a raft of options as standard and a limited 50-unit build run. 

The petrol engine will be replaced with a mild-hybrid unit by the end of 2023 and an electric e-408 will follow, although a date for that isn’t yet confirmed.

The 408 sits on the same EMP2 modular platform as the 308. At 4690mm long and 1480mm tall, it is a significant 440mm longer and almost 40mm higher than the 308. The final product was seven years in the making, because it was considered quite radical at its inception and apparently took some convincing at board level.

Design project manager Pierre-Paul Mattei revealed that giving the car “dynamism without hiding the fact that it’s roomy” was a hurdle.

“A classical fastback – the Peugeot 508, for example – starts to drop the car’s top line at the B-pillar, but here it’s the back of the rear door, which makes rear access and space better,” explained Mattei.

The front grille is reminiscent of the current Peugeot range but modernises it, introducing a vertical body-colour pattern in which the blocks of colour get bigger towards the edges.

Peugeot 408 paris motor show 04 grill

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Mattei said this new grille plays to the next generation of electrified cars and is likely to be used again in future.

The interior was developed alongside the 308 – “our job was to balance making it the 408 but with the best bits of the 308”, said Mattei. It features Peugeot’s latest i-Cockpit layout, including a digital dial display and a 10.0in infotainment touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and has extended storage space.

Peugeot hopes the 408 will attract new customers to the brand, having positioned it price-wise between the 308 and 3008 (the latter of which starts at £33,225), despite it being closer in length to the 508 saloon.

“Customers might be compact hatchback owners who want more roominess but the same driving experience,” said 408 product manager Aurélie Bresson, “or compact SUV owners looking for a more distinctive car and a more dynamic driving experience, or larger saloon owners looking for modern lines while maintaining a longer car.

“They have in common that they’re open-minded and don’t just buy a car for functionality.”

No threat to the 508

26 Peugeot 508 2018 rt cornering front 1 0

Peugeot positions the 408 as a take on the traditional saloon, rather than an SUV (hence the three-digit rather than four-digit name), but it’s adamant that there’s still a place for the larger 508.

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“The 508 does a good job for us,” Peugeot marketing boss Phil York told Autocar.

“It’s an icon for the brand – a high-end product.

“We have the 508 PSE [performance PHEV], which is an interesting proposition in the marketplace, and the 508 SW [estate], which fulfils a specific customer need too.

“We’re very happy with what 508 does for us.”

Data sourced by Autocar reveals that Peugeot sold just over 1200 508s in the UK last year, compared with 12,200 3008s, but York suggested the 508 plays an important role in the fleet market and suggested an “animation in the life cycle” (or facelift) will freshen it up some time soon.

Q&A - Pierre-Paul Mattei, Peugeot 408 Design Project Manager

038 Peugeot 408 2022

It has been seven years since this project started. Were you worried the car would arrive out of date?

“The hope was that no one [else] would design this car. It’s a great opportunity for us. We thought: ‘If we see this empty space, maybe other brands will see it.’ We’re glad they didn’t.”

The new 308 and 408 were created in tandem. Why?

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“By approaching it this way, we knew which would be the carry-over parts between the 308 and 408, particularly technology such as the front and rear lights. The windshield is in exactly the same position as the 308. We designed the interior for the 408, but it also went in the 308. This was possible because both cars are in the same segment.”

What was the biggest challenge in designing it?

“To give dynamism and elegance to the unusual proportions of this car. We knew that a classical saloon design wouldn’t work. One designer tried it with a 508 silhouette at the rear of the car and quickly realised that! We had to invent a new design language, giving it dynamism without hiding that it’s [spacious inside].”

The rear bumper differs to that of other Peugeots. Why?

“This rear bumper was necessary. Because of it, the car seems narrow when it’s not. It’s actually quite wide. To cut the body colour off with this inverted bumper creates dynamism. Our intention is to be disruptive, and this bumper does that.”

041 Peugeot 408 2022

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ianp55 8 November 2022

Strange looking car so many creases in the styling it looks more like origami,the pricing is really strange as well for another £700 you could have the much roomier 508, It's main comptition could well come from it's Stellantis stable the top of the range C5X Sense Plus costs less than the entry level 408 and is much better equipped as well

Tom Chet 8 November 2022

Agree with your comment about the weirdness of the pricing. 

The base 408 is over £3k more than an undiscounted base C5X with the same 1.2 litre engine.  After a broker's discount on a new base C5X, the gap widens to £7k!

xxxx 8 November 2022

So lets get this right, unless you want an overpriced phev you get a 1.2 in a large'ish tall hatchback, you rock Peugeot.

LucyP 8 November 2022

It's a French BMW X6. You can see the similar styling and as the article says there is lots of part and platform sharing with other Peugeots to keep costs down. They are just looking to fill hopefully profitable niches, because the former mainstream no longer sells.

The 208 sells, but in the UK is outsold by it's relation, the Corsa and Ford has killed the Fiesta. Have you ever seen a new 308 on the road. Ford is also killing the Focus. If you have managed to spot a new 308, the how about a 408? The Insignia, Mondeo and Passat are not sold in the UK now. 

Peugeot are just exploring niches within niches like everyone else. As someone else rightly said, this would have been a Citroen a few years ago.

Stellantis also have too many brands. VW struggled to make Seat work, looked at Stellantis and saw DS i.e. pimp-my-ride Citroen, and created Cupra, and now Seat sells even worse than before.