BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Subscribe to Top Gear magazine
Sign up to our Top Gear Magazine
Long-term review

Peugeot 408 - long-term review

£34,825 / as tested £36,625 / PCM £458
Published: 30 Oct 2023


  • SPEC

    PEUGEOT 408 GT 1.2 Puretech



  • BHP


Living with a Peugeot 408: a car made by people who like driving

The 408 and I did a walking weekend staying at the foot of Yr Wyddfa, aka Snowdon. Well we did the journey from London to the valley together. Thereafter it stayed in the pub car park while I walked to the peaks and later ate, drank and slept.

So this is my first chance to get it on interesting roads. On the wonderful open, scenic stuff, among them the ones running on the outward route from Dolgellau northbound or the homeward leg from Trawsfynydd to Bala and towards Penybontfawr, it's confident and direct without being twitchy. The 1.2 engine is willing enough and sounds interesting but has a bit of trouble hauling this biggish car when you're overtaking uphill, even now it's gone beyond 1,000 miles and I'm letting it have full revs.

Advertisement - Page continues below

Then things get trickier. The route goes from Maentwrog on the B4410 to Garreg, then north to Bedgellert and finally Rhyd-Ddu. It's like the world is crumpled up, the narrow road scrunched into endless tight corners, crests and dips. The 408 does a properly excellent job here, showing amazing damping control and unflappable comportment, and as a bonus its quick steering comes alive.

I occasionally get mildly irritated by its busy ride when dawdling round London, but if that's the price for this sort of behaviour on great roads, then fair enough. In an age when so many hatchbacks have been engineered with their screen interfaces as first priority and chassis dynamics some distance down the list, it's just a joy to be in a car that has been sorted by people who actually care about driving.

In the wet night, I'm again baffled by the absence of a rear wiper. Never mind, more important on empty roads is looking forward and the headlights are terrific, the LED matrix sort that amend their beam in real time to mask other cars but still throw full-beam light beyond. They're quite subtle in their action and I didn't get flashed back by oncoming drivers like you sometimes do with this type of light.

Then back on the motorway from Telford. Last month I said the massage seats were a bit of an extravagance, but after a couple of days punishing my old muscles in the mountains, they're just the job.

Advertisement - Page continues below

The 408 also carried me out to Oxfordshire for a test drive of the facelifted Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake. A car you might call a rival to the 408, except the Peugeot has far more rear legroom, drives more engagingly and is about 15 per cent cheaper.

The countryside around the Mercedes event is more alluring than my daily bicycle ride around Hackney so I took the bike. The 408 swallowed it, wheels on, without a burp.

The trip computer lies by about 1.5mpg, which is less bad than many. Actual measured economy is settling at 37-39mpg, which is competitive in real life given where – and, OK, how – I drive. It dropped to somewhere worse than 25 for the first miles after I'd filled it and hit the best Welsh roads.

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Try BBC Top Gear Magazine