Peugeot 408 2023 long-term test

The handling was surprisingly enjoyable, even if neutered somewhat by the odd driving position and muted steering. Generally, it felt quite at home in any environment. And the 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine the stalwart Puretech – matched sufficient performance with not bad economy, averaging 38.8mpg.

Of course, given my premise, I must also consider the aspects that would appeal more to the average would-be Nissan Qashqai buyer. First, practicality. That low and long boot: is it as good as a higher, shorter one? Yes. Early on, I used the 408 as a removal van, moving almost a whole flat’s worth of stuff in just a few trips. And if you want to do this scientifically, the 408’s cargo capacity is 536 litres, or 1611 litres with the rear seats folded down, which compares with 520 and 1480 for the new upright Peugeot 3008.

On other occasions, adult rear passengers were quite happy with their seats, space and, contrary to my expectations given those window and shoulder lines, views. Next, tech. As I said earlier, it had some problems: mainly capricious icons for the heated seats and wheel and an unreliable Apple CarPlay linkage.

Otherwise, though, I found the infotainment system fairly easy to use, and I was grateful for the unusual secondary touchscreen below, which hosted large shortcut ‘buttons’ that I learned to hit without looking while driving.

I also found the active safety systems acceptable – because they were quick and easy to turn off. Automatic emergency braking is always welcome, and I’m coming around to adaptive cruise control on our increasingly choked roads, but I’m never going to get on with a system that yanks the wheel in my hands, especially for no good reason, and in common with most modern cars, the 408’s lane keeping assistance did exactly that.

Onto the design. I think it’s super, despite its complexity, and plenty of people agreed. Not just due to the new logo, some were shocked to learn it was a Peugeot. I mean, think of the aesthetic misery of the brand just 15 years ago.

I certainly felt it had a premium aura, and I loved driving something that truly stood out. It’s just a shame Elixir Red paint is so pricey, as it’s even nicer than Obsession Blue, as seen on the plugin hybrid model that I also tried.

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