Peugeot 408 GT: long-term test review

First report: Peugeot's boldly styled hatch joins our fleet and heads straight out on a seaside holiday

  • 3.5 out of 5

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    The Peugeot 408 comes across as an unorthodox, interesting and practical family car. The jury’s still out on the 1.2-litre engine in such a substantial model, but it’s usefully cheaper than plug-in alternatives. 

    • Mileage: 1,250
    • Economy: 43.5mpg
    • The Peugeot 408 is a relative newcomer to the Auto Express fleet, but it already feels like we’re old friends. It arrived fresh from Peugeot spotlessly clean, waxed and buffed, then days later I (not quite as thoroughly groomed) took it off for a family holiday to South Wales. 

      We returned and were soon back into the swing of normal daily life, but as many parents returning from a week away will recognise, the Peugeot 408 had gained some weight: around 3kg of sand strewn around the interior. Take nothing but photos and leave nothing but footprints, they say, but our family had seemingly managed to acquire a sizable chunk of the beach from Three Cliffs Bay on the Gower Peninsula.

      Cleaning out any car after a week-long trip to the beach is never much fun, but it’s even less so when every textile seems to have been laced with fine grains of sand and your only weapons are a dustpan, brush and asthmatic Black & Decker Dustbuster from the early nineties. I am just thankful that our top-spec GT version has the optional Mistral Black Nappa leather upholstery that doesn’t cling on to sand grains with the same tenacity as the lesser Alcantara or fabric trim options, or the carpets. 

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      The GT trim is the most expensive in the current 408 range, at just under £2,500 more than the mid-spec Allure Premium, but it does further raise the game of the impressive interior. The dashboard, centre console and floor mats have green stitching that really stands out against an otherwise dark colour scheme, and the ambient lighting offers a choice of eight colours to brighten things up at night.

      The big talking point inside, however, is the 3D instrument cluster exclusive to GT models. The set-up projects speed and rpm information in hologram form in front of the dials. It looks suitably fancy and the information moves, appearing to get closer to the driver if it’s deemed important or urgent by the car’s systems. Unfortunately, the hologram has already failed once, leaving me looking at blank dials. The old ‘turn it off and on again’ trick didn’t work initially, but next morning it was all back to normal and the issue hasn’t recurred.  

      GT trim also includes a heated leather steering wheel, a powered tailgate and the Driver Sport Pack that allows sportier settings for the steering, throttle response, gearbox and the artificial engine sound. Outside, there’s a unique design for the 19-inch wheels, matrix LED headlights with five configurations and 3D LED rear lights. 

      While you can get an entry-level Allure- spec 408 for just over £31,000, our GT car with the most affordable 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine and standard EAT8 automatic gearbox is £34,825. The only options on our car other than the leather trim are the Elixir Red paint (£850), the 360-degree camera system (£450), a wireless phone charger (£100) and the Drive Assist 2.0 pack (£500) that adds semi-autonomous lane changes and intelligent speed assist. 


      I’m not sure I’d class any of those as essential, although the paint definitely adds to the look of the 408 – a car that is quite colour-sensitive to my eyes.  

      It all takes our model up to £39,025, but if you want a plug-in hybrid, you’ll need another £8,475. The lower running costs will still take a while to recoup that. 

      The 408 is a difficult car to pin down. Like many brands, Peugeot has responded to the popularity of SUVs by building SUV design elements into its family-sized hatchback. The result is a large, practical machine that easily swallows a family of four and a holiday’s worth of luggage, but can be considered alongside a diverse set of rivals. 

      More spacious hatches such as the Skoda Octavia and Honda Civic might be seen as rivals, as could more style-led compact SUV options like the Cupra Formentor, Mercedes GLA or BMW X2. Lots will depend on how you feel about the bold looks, but life so far with the 408 has been a beach.

      Model: Peugeot 408 GT 1.2 PureTech 130 EAT8
      On fleet since: July 2023
      Price new: £34,825
      Engine: 1.2-litre 3cyl petrol turbo, 128bhp
      CO2/tax: 136g/km/£180
      Options: Mistral Black Nappa leather upholstery and powered front seats (£2,300), Elixir Red paint (£850), 360-degree camera system (£450), wireless phone charger (£100), Drive Assist 2.0 pack (£500)
      Insurance*: Group: 21E Quote: £550
      Mileage: 1,250
      Economy: 34.5mpg
      Any problems? Instrument failure

      *Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

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