Articles - Test Drive

Test Drive: Peugeot 408

10th August 2012

FRENCH KISS: Does the Peugeot 408 has what it takes to shake the Japanese domination?

The Eiffel Tower, romantic evenings, the most sensual kiss and fashion are a few things associated with France. Sadly, French cars failed to gain as much popularity as the croissants on a breakfast table. But the French carmakers have rolled up their sleeves and pulled up their socks. Over the past few years, cars hailing from France, particularly the Peugeots and Citroens have been matching shoulders with the Germans.

And now, they’re aiming for the Japanese! Yes, by the looks of the new Peugeot 408 sedan, it sure seems that the car has the Honda Civic in its sight. First up, there’s the highly competitive pricetag starting at just RM109,888. Backing it up are Peugeot’s claims of it being more spacious and better equipped than all its competitors. The only way to find out then was to take the car for a spin and we at ON THE ROAD got to spend some quality time with the car.

It didn’t take us long to discover that Peugeot’s latest offering has a lot going for it. The 408 is available with a choice of two engines. There is range topping 1.6-litre THP engine, which is now a regular on every Peugeot (and Citroen and Mini) these days. This turbo engine uses twinscroll technology to produce 163bhp and 240Nm.

Then there is the normally aspirated 2.0-litre engine that we got to sample. This engine develops 145bhp and 200Nm. With either, the 408 is the most powerful car in its segment.

The 2.0-litre engine isn’t outright powerful but feels eager when you want to push it. It’s rather slow with a claimed 0-100kmh time of 12.5 seconds but feels very relaxed cruising the highways at three-digit speeds and responds willingly when you need to overtake. Given adequate space, it is good for clocking a top speed in the region of 200kmh.The gearbox might not be the quickest in business but fits perfectly in the overall scheme of things.

The handling though isn’t too impressive. We have driven the turbocharged version earlier and were quite impressed with its composed ride and agile handling. The 2.0 sports a softer set up compared to the 1.6 THP and the ride is can get pretty bouncy, especially with no passengers at the back. If you want more of a driver’s car, we’d recommend the turbo for you.

In the looks department, the 408 is typically Peugeot. There are the familiar pulled back headlamps, the trademark lion emblem on the bonnet and the beautifully penned lines from nose to tail. The 408 was conceived to be a sedan right from the start and hence has handsome proportions.

There’s an airy feel to the cabin. The dash is pretty straightforward and clutter free and houses the audio system and aircon controls. The standard car makes do with silver finish accents on the centre console while the Turbo features glossy black inserts. The Turbo’s leather upholstery also feels upmarket as opposed to the fabric trim of the 2.0.

Peugeot claims that the 408 is not only the roomiest car in its class but also rivals bigger cars in terms of space. I found it quite comfortable and the rear legroom and headroom is adequate.

Families will appreciate the 562-litre boot and the 60:40 split rear seats. Many  more family friendly features reside inside, like the rear vents for the aircon, a choice of up to six airbags, Isofix mounts for baby seats, and one-touch power windows all around.

The biggest news is that the car is assembled locally in Kedah and this is why Peugeot Malaysia has managed a highly competitive pricing. The 408 Turbo is priced at RM125,888 while the 408 2.0 will cost RM109,888, on the road.