2023 Peugeot 408 debuts – now a fastback crossover; petrol, PHEV only; Level 2 semi-autonomous driving

2023 Peugeot 408 debuts – now a fastback crossover; petrol, PHEV only; Level 2 semi-autonomous driving

Peugeot has presented the all-new 408, which it says is “unexpected from every angle.” That’s certainly a good way to put it, as unlike past iterations of the C-segment that were sedans, the third-generation 408 takes the form of a fastback crossover.

Set to go on sale in 2023, the high-riding 408 rides on an updated version of the EMP2 platform that is also used by the current 308, 508 as well as the Citroen C5 X. The fastback silhouette is accompanied by a design that doesn’t skimp on sharp lines and creases, resulting in a very dynamic and aggressive shape.

Key cues include a long bonnet that is set between raised wings that are characteristic of the latest Peugeot models. This also applies to the prominent grille that is finished in a way that is blends into the front bumper, with vertical dashed lines making up the insert.

Flanking the grille are slim headlamps with matrix LED technology and fang-shaped LED daytime running lights, the latter being any hallmark of recent Peugeot models. Other elements at the front include a trapezoidal-shaped lower intake, the latest Peugeot logo and the 408 script just ahead of the creased bonnet shut line.

2023 Peugeot 408 debuts – now a fastback crossover; petrol, PHEV only; Level 2 semi-autonomous driving

The transformation into a crossover also brings with it black body cladding that wraps around the lower portion of the vehicle, with the sides sporting sculpted components that complement even more bold lines. Even the window line is visually distinctive, rising slightly above the fuel door and extending further rearwards to the base of the heavily raked C-pillar.

Moving to the rear, we find a small lip on the tailgate to accentuate the fastback look, joined by a modern interpretation of the brand’s familiar three-claw LED taillights that are linked by a trim piece running through the Peugeot logo. The rear bumper is also made to look more stylistic in keeping with the “look at me” design approach.

The final product measures 4,687 mm long, which is shorter than the previous 408 sedan that spanned 4,750 mm. Even so, the fastback crossover has a superior wheelbase of 2,787 mm compared to its predecessor’s 2,730 mm, while also being wider at 1,848 mm (+28 mm) and having a lower height of 1,478 (-10 mm) for a more pleasing stance.

Inside, the 408 follows in its recent siblings’ footsteps by adopting the Peugeot i-Cockpit, with features being a compact steering wheel and a high-mounted digital instrument cluster. The latter sits just beside the also high-mounted air vents, with a large 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system dominating the centre stack.

2023 Peugeot 408 debuts – now a fastback crossover; petrol, PHEV only; Level 2 semi-autonomous driving

The infotainment system comes with fully configurable i-toggles, which are essentially shortcuts that drivers can set to access their most used functions (AC, media, telephony, etc.). Peugeot also opted against squeezing every single vehicle function into the touchscreen, as there are a row of physical controls located just beneath the i-toggles.

Like the 308, one side of centre console is deliberately open towards the passenger, with the other being raised to bring the switches for the gear selector and drive modes closer to the driver. In the same area, you’ll also find a wireless phone charger, USB ports and two cupholders.

The carmaker also notes that rear space is particularly generous because of the long wheelbase, with rear passengers benefitting from 188 mm of knee room. The bench can be folded down in a 60:40 split and there’s also a ski hatch into the boot that offers 536 litres of space, or 1,611 litres when in cargo mode (including 36 litres under the boot floor for the internal combustion engine version).

In terms of available equipment, the 408 can be specified with wheels sized between 17 and 20 inches, different levels of the i-Connect infotainment system, various upholsteries and trims depending on the chosen grade, an eight-colour ambient lighting system, a powered tailgate with hands-free function, a Focal Premium Hi-Fi sound system, a sunroof and keyless entry and start, among other things.

As for driving aids, six cameras and nine radars fitted to the vehicle allow for functions such as adaptive cruise control with stop and go, automatic emergency braking, active lane departure warning and prevention, driver attention alert, road sign recognition, a night vision system, long-range blind spot monitoring (up to 75 metres), rear traffic alert, a 360-degree camera and automatic high beam.

There’s also Drive Assist 2.0 for those who need semi-autonomous driving functions, although this will only be offered later. It adds two new functions that can be used on dual carriageways, including semi-automatic lane change and anticipated speed recommendation.

Finally, powertrains. At launch, the 408 will be offered with a sole petrol option and two plug-in hybrids. This is reminiscent of the C5 X, including the absence of any diesels. The petrol variant is dubbed the PureTech 130 S&S EAT8 and features a 1.2 litre turbocharged three-cylinder unit that serves up 130 PS (129 hp) at 5,500 rpm and 230 Nm of torque at 1,750 rpm. This drives the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission, although Peugeot did not disclose performance or efficiency figures.

Meanwhile, the plug-in hybrids feature a PureTech 1.6 litre turbo four-cylinder and an electric motor integrated into an eight-speed automatic. While the e-motor is rated at the same 110 PS (109 hp or 81 kW) and 320 Nm, it is the output of the engine that differentiates the two options.

In the Hybrid 180 e-EAT8, the mill makes 150 PS (148 hp) at 6,000 rpm and 250 Nm at 1,750 rpm for a total system output of 180 PS (178 hp). The step up is the Hybrid 225 e-EAT8, and its engine makes 180 PS (177 hp) and the same amount of torque for a cumulative output of 225 PS (221 hp) – both PHEVs serve up the same 360 Nm.

Once again, there are no performance or fuel consumption figures for the PHEVs (yet), which have a smaller fuel tank capacity of 40 litres compared to the ICE version’s 52 litres. The PHEVs are also heavier, with the most powerful variant having a kerb weight of 1,706 kg compared to 1,393 kg.

2023 Peugeot 408 debuts – now a fastback crossover; petrol, PHEV only; Level 2 semi-autonomous driving

This is mainly because of the electrical components needed, including the 12.4-kWh lithium-ion battery that sits under the boot floor. We don’t have final homologated range figures for now, but the carmaker says the PHEV versions of the 408 will come with standard with an onboard AC charger (Type 2 connection) that supports up to 3.7 kW.

With a charger (14 amps) capable of that power output, a full charge will take about three hours 55 minutes, or seven hours five minutes with a domestic power socket (eight amps). Customers can upgrade to a 7.4-kW onboard charger for a cost, which significantly reduces the charging time to one hour 40 minutes with a compatible wallbox (32 amps).

While it may be known as the 408 in most markets, the fastback crossover will be called the 408X in China. This is because China has its own 408, which was revealed on June 8 and is essentially a heavily revised version of the second-generation model with updated styling clearly inspired by the current 308.

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Gerard Lye

Originating from the corporate world with a background in finance and economics, Gerard’s strong love for cars led him to take the plunge into the automotive media industry. It was only then did he realise that there are more things to a car than just horsepower count.




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