Peugeot 408 Turbo: Great Value for Money Offer

By Lee Pang Seng

YEAR-END offers sometimes see great value-for-money packages that are hard to resist and the attractive offer by Nasim Sdn Bhd for its Peugeot 408 Turbo is definitely one of them. At RM98,000, or some RM30,000 cheaper than its standard price, the Peugeot 408 Turbo has to be seriously considered for what it can offer in driving fun and functionality.

It is a good looking sedan with flowing aerodynamic lines and bold ‘lionised’ signages and badges to highlight its French breeding. For power, its twin scroll Turbo High Pressure (THP) 1.6-ltre engine with direct injection, double camshafts and variable valve timing (VVT) – similar to the engine used in the 308 and 3008 – has decent output to give good pace. This is an undersquare unit with 85.8mm stroke and 72mm bore to displace 1598cc, and the output is 121kW (165hp) at 6000rpm and 240Nm developing real early at 1400rpm.

That, according to Peugeot, is good for 0-100km/h sprints in a respectable 9.2 seconds and a fair top speed of 215km/h. This is for the six-speed adaptive Tiptronic automatic model with Sports mode. Combined fuel consumption is not too bad at about 12.2km/l (8.2 l/100km), especially for a car that weighs about 1400kg (kerb).

The 408 Turbo is targeted at C-segment customers although dimensionally it could easily pass off as a D-segment sedan. That is because the 408 made available here is rather unique. Firstly, it is not a new generation model of the 407. Instead, it is actually a long wheelbase version of the previous 308 hatchback.

Its evolvement from a hatchback platform was approached in 2010 to gain appeal in markets that prefer sedans over hatchbacks, and a primary target was China where sedans sell better. Nasim saw the opportunity to tap on that model availability as a righthand drive car and introduced it here as the 408 Turbo and 408 2.0 and as locally assembled Peugeots. The facelift version was made available here in 2013.

Dimensionally, the 408 sees significant differences over the 308 that was introduced in 2008 and which had been superseded by a new model that was launched at the Frankfurt International Motor Show in 2013. It has a wheelbase of 2710mm that is 100mm longer than that of the hatchback. Body-wise, the 408 is longer by more than 400mm at 4652mm although it is only slightly taller by about 30mm at 1525mm. It retains the same width of 1815mm as the 308 Hatchback.

This ‘stretching’ of the body to include a boot has led to a very spacious boot that could accommodate 562 litres of luggage, so to speak. This voluminous compartment can be extended further through the 60:40 split rear seatrests. However, the seatrests do not lie totally flat and the extended space available is for long and slim items rather than sizeable ones.

The generous luggage space is matched by the roomy passenger room, with the rear passengers enjoying good legroom to lounge pretty comfortably in. Keeping them reasonably well pampered are the foldable centre armrest and two round vents for cool air at the back of the centre console. There is also a small compartment to store minor items as well.

As the 408 is based on an older model, its interior features are reflected as such. You won’t see cupholders, a large multi-info display panel on the centre area of the dashboard or steering wheel controls. What you get is a slim info panel with bright red readings in a recessed niche above the central aircond vents on the dash area. To add a sporty touch to its turbo power, the instrument panel has white dials flanking another recessed info section with the same striking red readouts. Metal foot pedals add to the car’s sporty ambience.

Likewise, the sports mode option via the gearshift is selected by pushing the lever to a dedicated slot on the left. Gears are then selected by pushing or pulling this shift in a sequential manner. There are no paddle shifts behind the steering wheel, again because of the older model base on that this 408 is derived from.

We did find the front doors rather sharp edged at the top corner. We nicked our eyebrow, drawing blood, brushing against it when getting into the car during photography sessions and had learnt to open both front doors real wide to avoid further painful entries.

The driving perspective was generally good: the turbo surge helped to build up speed for quick overtaking or accelerating quickly away from the traffic lights. Of course, the low peak torque came in handy for puttering along in city traffic with the 408 Turbo moving along easily at light accelerator pedal pressure, which should help to keep urban fuel consumption low and stretch one’s petrol ringgit.

Its good body aerodynamic profile kept air turbulence low on the highway with minimal progression of wind noise around the door mirrors and roof, even beyond legal speed limits. The interior remained quiet enough during our drives for us to enjoy the music without noticeable intrusion of wind noise up to 140km/h. A few brief spurts along quiet stretches had the speedo needle slightly above 160km/h quite quickly.

True to its French breeding, the 408’s ride characteristics displayed a tendency to absorb harsh impacts from bumps and potholes. The 408 Turbo was fitted with Continental ContiSportContact tyres of the size 225/45 R17 on alloy wheels. On first impact, a little hardness came through in a slight jolt but we could feel the impacts becoming progressively less harsh as we proceed over the uneven road section.

We couldn’t speak for the rear passenger experience in this case but we believe the ride, as felt from the driver’s seat, should live up to the ride comfort that French cars are known to be engineered for in suspension tuning. The 408 shares the same suspension system as the 308 being an independent MacPherson strut front and a torsion beam rear. The initial firm jolt in the ride over bumps was probably a result of the torsion beam design.

It must also be considered that the Peugeot 408 Turbo had covered close to 24,000km when we took it for a few days: wear and tear of the suspension components would have taken place although it still accounted well for itself despite the mileage done. Similarly, this was also in our mind when we took the 408 Turbo through our favourite winding stretches and corners.

The electro-hydraulic steering gave reasonably good directional feedback and the slightly softer suspension, through the benefit of age, had the car leaning a little more as expected. We could still hold quite a bit of speed through the curves, allowing us to enjoy the dynamic side of the 408 Turbo. Using Sports mode and holding a lower gear helped as well.

At the end of the day, the 408 Turbo is definitely a car for the younger set who would want a spot of driving fun when the mood prevails, while wanting a sedan for its good interior room to take the family around. And at the current offer price of RM98,000, this Peugeot is virtually a steal even for a locally assembled car.

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