A real mix of genres, the Peugeot 408 is unclassifiable. Classic or raised sedan, coupe SUV, adventurer station wagon? What competitors for the new Lioness?
Just unveiled, the Peugeot 408 astonishes by its style mixing genres, and its performances straddling between dynamic saloon and raised crossover. It seems a bit apart in the range, but also in the current automotive market. Finding him a competitor is therefore not easy, and sparks debate, even within the editorial staff. Should we put it in front of a traditional sedan, or in front of a classic station wagon? What about a coupe type sedan like the Mercedes CLA? Or should we favor more high-legged vehicles, whether they are Coupe SUVs or adventurer station wagons?
This last body is rather widespread among premium manufacturers (Audi Allroad, Mercedes All-Terrain, Volvo Cross Country, etc.), but few brands have tried the experience of a raised sedan. Volvo is one of them, but quickly dropped the case after the bitter failure of its S60 Cross Country launched in 2015. A few years later, Peugeot tried again with this unprecedented 408. It is technically close to a 308, from which it borrows the stretched EMP2 platform, the bonnet and the optics. But the crossover is still 32 cm longer than the 5-door sedan! With 4.69 m long, the 408 is therefore right between the 308 SW station wagon (4.63 m) and the 508 sedan (4.75 m). The two models are also among the closest rivals…
Strong internal competition
The 508, marketed since 2018, could indeed suffer from the comparison with the newcomer. Despite an identical wheelbase of 2.79 m, the 408 outclasses it in terms of space on board thanks to its greater height and its slightly more horizontal roof. The first contact with the 408 also shows a very good legroom, while access is through large doors. As for the trunk, it is also larger: from 522 to 1,611 liters for the 408 (or 471 to 1,545 liters in the plug-in hybrid), compared to 487 to 1,587 liters for the 508. On the other hand, the threshold of the 408 is quite high, which will not help with loading luggage. The Peugeot 308 SW station wagon does better on this point, and will therefore be the brand’s second model to suffer from this internal competition. Despite 6 cm less, its trunk volume is slightly larger with 610 to 1,660 litres.
Within the Stellantis group, one of the designated competitors could be the Citroen C5 X. With a look halfway between sedan, station wagon and SUV, it is based on the same EMP2 platform but stands out with a larger size of 11 cm (4.80 m), for an identical width and height (1.86 m and 1.48 m). The Citroën also offers great roominess here, thanks to an almost identical wheelbase of 2.78 m, which translates into a royal welcome in the rear seats and a generous boot: from 545 to 1,640 litres. The car has 130 and 180 hp petrol engines and a 225 hp plug-in hybrid, but does not use diesel… like the Peugeot 408!
The Arkana in the viewfinder
Big cardboard in France, with more than 12,000 units sold between January and May 2022 with us (9th place in the ranking of the best-selling vehicles), the Renault Arkana could be one of the targets of the Peugeot 408. Certainly, it is a little smaller with its 4.57 m long, including 2.72 m wheelbase. But this coupe SUV already displays good roominess for families, despite its leaky roof, and a substantial trunk volume (513 liters, 480 liters in hybrid). In terms of engines, Renault’s SUV coupé is sold only in petrol (140 or 160 hp) and in non-rechargeable hybrid E-Tech (145 hp). Like the Captur on which it is based, it ignores the diesel.
An alternative to breakaway station wagons?
The category of adventurers station wagons is, as we said above, rather represented by the top-of-the-range with in particular the Mercedes C-Class and E-Class All-Terrain, the Volvo V60 Cross Country or the Audi A4 and A6 Allroad . However, there are also some in the lower categories and among generalist manufacturers. This is the case of Skoda, which offers theOctavia Scout for several generations. The current one, launched in 2020, is currently only available from stock until the bodywork is discontinued at the end of 2023. Based on the group’s MQB platform (VW Golf, Seat Leon, Audi A3, etc.), it is stretched like the 408 and offers the same length but a shorter wheelbase of 10 cm (2.68 m). The range is made up of a single 150 hp petrol unit (traction) and two 2.0 TDI diesels of 150 or 200 hp (4×4).
The Volkswagen Golf cousin also offers an Alltrack version like the Passat. Decked out in raw plastic body guards, chrome skid plates and raised ground clearance, the Golf Alltrack is 4.64 m long (including 2.68 m wheelbase). It therefore offers a little less space on board than the 408 for the rear passengers. The trunk, on the other hand, is generous thanks to the long overhang, with 612 to 1,642 litres. The elevated VW Golf SW comes standard with a 200 hp diesel, 7-speed DSG gearbox and 4Motion all-wheel drive.
And the more classic sedans in all this?
If SUVs and other rugged station wagons aren’t your cup of tea, why not consider a more classic sedan? The category has been deserted by some, but other manufacturers offer low and streamlined coupe-like sedans. The best example is that of the duo Mercedes CLA /CLS. The second is here excluded by its size (5 m long) and its much higher price positioning. But with its 4.69 m and its price starting at €36,549, the “small” CLA practically corresponds. It is even available in Shooting Brake for those who prefer this bodywork, and offers a varied range of engines: 136, 163, 224, 306 and 421 hp in petrol, 116, 150 and 190 hp in diesel or 218 hp in plug-in hybrid. On the other hand, the trunk (a trunk and not a tailgate) is less practical and less bulky with 460 liters.
Photos : DR.
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