Peugeot goes large

The new 408 e-THP sedan is large enough to challenge cars from a class above.

408_coverDo you remember the original Peugeot 408 launched in 2012? That car looked a lot like a 308 with a boot tacked on, so it wasn’t exactly very pretty, but it sold in very strong numbers. Over 5,000 units have found buyers in Malaysia and when combined with the hatchback, the C-segment accounts for about 35 per cent of Peugeot’s annual sales in Malaysia.

The all-new Peugeot 408 is also based on the 308 hatchback but this time around, the designers have done a much better job of incorporating the elongated profile of a three-box sedan. Therefore, rather than looking like a cut and paste effort the 408 is now a handsome looking thing that can stand toe-to-toe against any C-segment rival.

Handsomely styled with generous proportions, Peugeot calls the new 408 a C+ segment car.

It’s big too. With a 565-litre boot and an overall length of 4750mm, this car is closer in size to a Honda Accord and Toyota Camry instead of C-segment rivals like the Civic and Altis; an advantage that’s also reflected in its width, wheelbase and height measurements. Peugeot calls it a C+ segment car, which is ironic as in terms of size, it’s now very close to the more expensive 508.

Inside, the award winning i-Cockpit has been carried over from the 308 so the dashboard is dominated by a 9.7-inch HD multi-function touchscreen that controls everything from navigation to ventilation functions. The cockpit features a low-mounted steering wheel where the instrument cluster is viewed over instead of through the spokes while the seats are leather with electric adjustable and even have a massage function.

The i-Cockpit is carried over from the 308; low mounted wheel and meter cluster take some getting used to.

Other interior goodies include keyless entry, push-button start, auto lights and wipers, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear air-con, a six-speaker sound system and Smart Park Assist II system. Peugeot didn’t skimp on the safety kit list either as six airbags, ABS with EBD and brake assist, stability control and a blind spot information system are all standard.

Peugeot’s 1.6-litre THP engine delivers 165hp and 245Nm and delivers drive via a six-speed automatic.

Lift the bonnet and you’ll find Peugeot’s ubiquitous 1.6-litre turbo motor nestled snugly in the nose. It produces 165hp at 6000rpm and 245Nm from just 1400rpm and delivers drive to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic. We’ve tried the same combination in the 308 and the 508 and found it to be very effective, so we can safely assume it’ll be just as efficient in this application.

Lots of room in the back but will Civic and Altis fans be enticed by the extra space of the 408?

That’s a fairly long list of strong points to entice potential 408 buyers but official distributors, Nasim Sdn. Bhd., are under no illusions about the challenges they face. Malaysia’s car sales numbers have been fairly soft in 2016 and the likes of Peugeot have found the going tough as consumers revert to ‘less-risky’ Japanese brands. The impending arrival of the new Honda Civic is also likely to grab the attention of most C-segment buyers, which will be exacerbated by the relatively high RM143,888 (including insurance and GST) sticker price for this car.

Still, Peugeot should be commended for launching a new fully-featured C-segment sedan at a time when most indicators point towards a shrinking market share for such cars. Only time will tell if Malaysians will be attracted enough to the size, kit list and looks of the 408 to buy it but based on its on-paper attributes, it should deliver on its promise of D-segment luxuries for a C-segment price.