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Long-term report: Our Peugeot 408 hybrid departs the fleet

Our Peugeot 408 has departed the fleet. (PA)
Our Peugeot 408 has departed the fleet. (PA)

The Peugeot 408 is probably one of the hardest-working long-termers I’ve had. Much of its time has been spent running up and down the M1 for various work errands.

It’s journeys like that where you get used to a car and find its flaws, but with the 408 there weren’t many at all. It’s one of the most comfortable cars I’ve ever had, getting the suspension just right for my tastes – it’s not overly soft and wallowy, yet never feels firm either, even despite riding on fairly large 19-inch alloy wheels.

In the last week I had with the 408, it was really put to the test while clocking up 600 miles in just a few days on various airport runs. Many of these trips were late at night, allowing the 408’s legs to be stretched a little further with no traffic, and even at motorway speeds the Peugeot’s refinement always impressed.

The 408’s comfortable interior is a great place to spend time. (PA)

I’ll admit that a lot of the driving I did in the Peugeot 408 was fairly leisurely, being mindful of conserving fuel economy if nothing else. But on one of the last drives, I thought I’d push it a bit more. Remarkably for quite a large car that doesn’t claim to offer much in the way of sportiness, I was amazed by how well it handled on a Yorkshire B-road, feeling agile and offering plenty in the way of grip.

The trademark small Peugeot steering wheel, while sometimes getting in the way of the digital dial display, works well when it comes to fun driving and naturally makes the 408 keener to drive as well, even if this wasn’t perhaps the firm’s original intention.

But while the 408 did spend a lot of time on the motorway, I’ve also used it to do a lot of local miles to try and make use of the plug-in hybrid’s electric range. Despite charging it regularly at home – you can easily get away with using a three-pin plug to charge a plug-in hybrid – I was often disappointed by its electric range, which was often only around 20 miles from a charge.

The hybrid element of the Peugeot 408 is what lets the side down. (PA)

Though it meant I could drive to the nearest town and back without needing to use the engine, it would struggle to do any more than that. It meant that even with plugging the 408 in whenever I was at home, my average fuel economy over 4,000 miles was around 52mpg.

That’s not a bad figure, but I’m not convinced that’s any more than an efficient diesel would have achieved, and especially when the car would average around 40mpg even without being plugged in, it makes you question if all the effort of charging it and the steep increase in price over a regular petrol version is worth it.

In fact, the hybrid element of the Peugeot 408 is the only area I’m not convinced about, as otherwise it’s been a car that’s hard to fault. It’s proven a wonderfully comfortable cruiser, and it’s also really quite spacious, and slots neatly between smaller hatchbacks like the Peugeot 308 and more obvious SUVs like the firm’s 3008. Even with its sloping roofline, I had no problem fitting a mountain bike in the boot, while there’s loads of space in the rear seats, even for taller passengers.

The 408 is a great addition to Peugeot’s range. (PA)

The 408 is a great addition to Peugeot’s line-up and manages to offer something different while never being compromised. It’s a car I’d happily recommend to anyone, but perhaps not with this hybrid setup.

  • Model: Peugeot 408
  • Base price: £31,225
  • Model as tested: Peugeot 408 Allure Premium Hybrid 225
  • Price: £43,765
  • Engine: 1.6-litre plug-in hybrid
  • Power: 222bhp
  • Torque: 425Nm
  • Max speed: 145mph
  • 0-60mph: 7.6 seconds
  • MPG: 211.3-269.5mpg
  • Emissions: 26g/km CO2
  • Mileage: 6,842