The New Peugeot 408 May Be The First Good-Looking Fastback Crossover ‘Coupé’

Peugeot 408 Topshot

This is the Peugeot 408 and it may just be the best-looking crossover to ever share a name with Glenwood’s area code. Alright, so that’s not saying much given how it might be the only crossover to share a name with Glenwood’s area code, but the Peugeot 408 is a coupe crossover [Editor’s Note: These aren’t coupés. Coupés have two doors. I’ll die on this fucking hill. – JT] done the French way. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen it, but the Paris Motor Show marks the public debut of the 408 so it’s worth coming back to this French curiosity.

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First off, a word about naming. Peugeot typically reserves three-digit names for cars and four-digit names for crossovers, except for with the 408, which is either a sedan or this crossover depending on market. While the 408 sedan is fine, it’s this crossover that we’re focusing on today. Also, this 408 isn’t a replacement for the old 407, because that was replaced by the 508. No, I don’t know why either. In any case, the 408 crossover slots just above the 3008.

Coupe crossovers like the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe are typically driven by people who want the roofline of a fastback sedan without any of the sedan benefits. They’re the vehicular equivalent of Ugg boots as they’re compromised and generally impractical style-first acquisitions. However, the 408 is a little bit different because it comes with one big sedan-style benefit.

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Crossovers typically don’t have great drag coefficients and coupe crossovers are no exception. An X6 M Competition has a drag coefficient of 0.37. To the air, it looks like a brick, and to people with eyes, it looks like something terrible happened to the clay model. In contrast, the Peugeot 408 has a drag coefficient of 0.28, the same as a 2009 Honda Insight. In addition, frontal area is relatively small at 0.654 meters squared, which means that it shouldn’t take a ton of energy to push the 408 through the air. What we have here is a liftback sedan with the suspension travel of a crossover, and that’s a more intriguing prospect than a less practical SUV.

In fact, the 408 is aerodynamic enough that Peugeot reckons it only needs 128 horsepower on the base trim. Granted, European base-models have always been less powerful than American entry-level engines, but Peugeot might be onto something here. The lightest 408 will weigh 1,396 kg, or just 3,078 pounds, so it shouldn’t be horribly underpowered with the base powertrain. A reasonably light car with a decent drag coefficient and a small engine should also get good fuel economy, so the car-like perks just keep coming. If 128 horsepower isn’t enough for you, Peugeot has you covered with several electrified options. The sensible middle ground comes from the 178-horsepower mid-range 1.6-liter plug-in hybrid powertrain, while a 222-horsepower plug-in hybrid powertrain sits atop the range.

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Oh, and Peugeot’s actually figured out how to design an attractive coupe crossover. Sure, the greenhouse seems to suffer from a bit of Cadillac CT5-itis with what looks like fake windows, but everything else looks quite sharp. The shoulder line is crisp, the color-matched grille is inspired, and the claw-mark daytime running lights work surprisingly well. The complex surfacing on the lower doors is particularly fascinating, almost like waves in a pond. It’s not as conventionally pretty as a 508 sedan, but it’s far classier than its C-segment positioning suggests.

Coupe crossovers are a bit of car market madness, but since the French do madness better than anyone else, it’s fitting that Peugeot has made the first coupe crossover that makes sense. It’s a shame the Peugeot 408 is not coming to America, but it should suit the rest of the world nicely. Expect it to go on sale later this year.

All photos courtesy of Peugeot

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28 Responses

  1. It is more of a car than a crossover and while it is not that bad a looking, I much prefer our second gen Infiniti FX 35 hatchback’s look to the 408. No matter what Infiniti or Peugeot say, they are not a SUV nor a Coupe, it is a lifted hatchback. There is nothing remotely SUV like about the FX. It is even built on the same FM platform at the Nissan Z series.

    1. Came here to post that. Why doesn’t Chrysler just rebadge the entire Peugeot line up? The 2008 compact crossover, the 3008 & 5008 medium ones – perfect Tiguan competitors and now this, along with the really really good looking 508. Peugeot has made a come back big time. My friend has a 5008 and my boss has a 508, two years ago I didn’t know anyone with a Peugeot, now they are absolutely everywhere!

    1. The reason the concept of “5-door” can make sense is if the model also comes in other configurations. For instance, at one point the Ford Focus came in 3-, 4-, and 5-door packages (with trim lines named ZX3, ZX4, and ZX5, respectively) and the Ford Escort had a ZX2 coupe. I view it as far less a sacrilege than the four-door “coupe” and these ungainly humpbacked crossovers.

  2. 1,400 kg for a car of this class is awesome, but let’s not pretend like 128hp is “adequate” in this case.

    Fun wheels though. Shame you’ll only see this car on the standard 17” steelies with a missing hubcap, as is customary.

    1. 3100lbs and 128hp should be adequate. I have a mk4 tdi that weighs 3000lbs with the tiptronic automatic and had 110hp when new. It’s no rocket ship but it is fast enough. My daily is a 2.0l gas powered transit connect 140hp and 3840lbs the last time I went across a scale. Also no rocket ship but with these newer 8speed automatics it merges and passes fine. Just fine.

  3. “[Editor’s Note: These aren’t coupés. Coupés have two doors. I’ll die on this fucking hill. – JT]”
    I’m usually all for the evolution of language. That said, I believe the evolution of language should add clarity or update meaning, not increase confusion. The term coupe is for two-door vehicles. If I have to specify the number of doors on a coupe, we have lost the meaning of the term.
    I’m a little afraid that “coupe” will be replaced with “roadster.” I have heard a couple (non-car) people describe sports coupes as roadsters. This might cause some confusion for some time if there is a shift. And it would mean we lose another classification.
    I would accept calling this a fastback.

  4. Can we just all agree to call these things “tall cars”? It is what they are. Not a crossover. Just a car that hit puberty in 6th grade before its classmates and sticks out in the class pic. I drive a Crosstrek and laugh when it gets referred to as an SUV or CUV. It’s a car people. One with actual sidewalls on the tires and not rubber bands. A just slightly taller car. Not a CUV. Not a subcompact SUV. A car.

  5. Everything about this car is a lie told by marketing people. Where is the “B” ark when you need it?

    This is a fastback sedan. It is not a “crossover” or any other kind of “utility” vehicle. It’s a _sedan_. Period.

    If you want to call your car an *UV or crossover, then there should be a meaningful difference in ground clearance and/or distance from the ground to the seating surface. Otherwise, it’s a car.

  6. You’re only saying it’s good looking because you see it through the eyes of someone who’s not used to the atrocities we deal with here in Europe xD
    Also, it comes with the shitty puretech engine.

  7. The Chinese-market Ford Evos also offers this style package. Looks very similar too.

    And I like them more and more. If I eventually have to buy a crossover b/c no other vehicles with more than 2 doors still exist, I’d prefer something that doesn’t have the SUV height and has the more raked rear hatch.

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