PEUGEOT 408 GT 1.2 Puretech
Top Gear Garage: is the Peugeot 408 a mashup too far?
It came with delivery mileage, and its very first journey was to carry a proper load: four people, and enough camping gear to fill the boot to the back window and wedge between the people in the back. After four days of our operating by the rules of festival hygiene and festival toilets, the 408's new-car smell has been obliterated.
Anyway, we proved it's a roomy car. Not as vast in the boot as a 508 wagon, but still not bad back there, and genuinely leggy in the rear seats. The boot by the way is deeper than in the PHEV version. We have the vanilla petrol. I'd noted a slightly hard ride when I first reviewed the 408, but that was somewhat smoothed by the extra load it was bearing here. And hey as well as being a five-door fastback coupé, it's also partway to being a crossover, so it didn't drag its backside in the festival's car-park fields. But then, neither did the 208 that was parked next to us, so it can't have been rough enough to be a real test. As we all know anyway, when it comes to off-roading, the 408 is very much all mouth.
Indeed, the true joy of it is precisely that is isn't a crossover. You can get the seat low, and feel its lithe cornering. Having turned out the passengers, of course. I'm liking the quick, progressive steering and the way it determinedly sticks to a bend.
I didn't want the PHEV because I can't plug in at home. While it's worth the three-minute walk to a lamp-post socket for 250 miles of pure-electric range, it's not worth it for 25 miles of PHEV range. In any case I like the Peugeot 1.2 engine, even if it has its work cut out in a car this big. Unfortunately it can be had only with the eight-speed transmission, which is lousily calibrated in all Stellantis cars. It comes to rest with a snatch. It's hesitant moving off from rest, so you use more throttle at which point the engine comes on boost and you surge messily forward. And it has a huge gap between second and third. It's often hesitant in timing its ratio changes too, but at least there are paddles.
I can't give you a fuel figure because I haven't refilled it yet, and it's running in so would be flattering. The trip computer says 43mpg but who believes those? Soon, the 408 will come with Peugeot's new mild-hybrid powertrain, and a pure EV version. In other cars, both are good.
This is the GT version. It's got lots of driver assistance, fancy mixed cloth trim, and full driver assist. A Focal stereo (£500) and wireless charge pad (£100), and electric massage seats (£1100) are the options. That last one looks expensive, but I do find myself making micro-adjustments to any car seat on a long trip to stave off stiffness.
The screen system – a main touchscreen, a second touchscreen of your own shortcuts, and a 3d drivers' screen – is likeable. Very configurable, so I'll talk about it in another episode.