As this model's lengthy seven year gestation period suggests, Design Project Manager Pierre-Paul Mattei and his team had some difficulty in getting the Peugeot board to sign off on the 408 - and it's not difficult to see why. Even Mattei admits that 'giving the car dynamism without hiding its roominess' was problematical. Eventually, the project was probably green-lighted because this car shares so much with the 308 hatch it was developed alongside. Actually though, it's closer in quirky concept (and size) to another unconventional Stellantis Group Gallic model, the Citroen C5 X. The 408, according to its stylists, is a 'reinvention of the mid-sized sedan', with feline fashion touches like the radical front grille, an unusual bulbous rear diffuser and a duck tail spoiler. It's clearly been designed around the unusually styled 20-inch wheels of top variants, so with base 17-inch rims, owners might be disappointed with the finished effect.
There be disappointed if they come expecting an equally 'disruptive' sense of style inside too because the dash is lifted entirely from the Peugeot 308. Many though, will see that as unusual enough, with its trademark Peugeot 'i-Cockpit' tiny steering wheel, over which (rather than through which) you view the virtual gauges on the 10-inch Digital Driver's Display. Another 10-inch screen adorns the centre of the fascia, with digital shortcut keys beneath and the brand's latest voice control system. In the rear seat, there's more head and knee room than you get in a 308 - but not much more. And out back with a conventional engine fitted, there's a decent 536-litre boot, extendable to 1,611-litres. The PHEV version's cargo area size falls to 471-litres.