Regulations shape the automobile, sometimes beyond reason with this suicidal conversion to all-electric; more rarely with an induced effect that is a matter of happy chance. Thus, the reduction in CO2 is currently making a decisive shift for manufacturers. By dint of scratching everywhere the small gains that allow them to lower their ecological score, they have come to question the very shape of their cars. And to ask the crucial question: will the SUV that has been so popular for the past ten years still be so for the next ten?

The answer is definitely no at Stellantis which, admittedly, does not occupy the same territory as a Mercedes, BMW or Audi. Thus, it has just presented two new models in quick succession with similar characteristics which would be in the spirit of a cocktail mixing an upgraded sedan, but not as much as an SUV because it is good for the CX, on a lower chassis base to appearances, because it is good for the weight and the cost price. Add to that a range of engines that would make us laugh across the Rhine, but which we are presented with as the panacea for hanging around at 120 on the highway.

Auto – Citroën C5 X, vanishing line

So that describes the specifications of this new Peugeot 408, so far ahead of the phase that it will only be marketed at the beginning of 2023 if the smart chips arrive in Mulhouse in time. In appearance, the 408 has everything to overshadow the 508, whose dimensions it approaches except in height, which is more important here. But at 4.69 m long, the 408 is no longer at all the compact 308 whose platform it nevertheless takes up. For the sake of the case, this one is so stretched like a dachshund (32 cm) that it belongs to another world.

To justify its role as a crossover, the ground clearance is raised by 4 cm while the roof rises reasonably to 1.48 m. We play on appearances with “Star Wars” rims up to 20 inches but without hiding the non-revisable width of a 308 at 1.85 m. It seems that the gain in volume benefits more from the trunk, larger (522 to 1,611 l) than that of the 508 and accessible by an electric tailgate, than to the rear passengers.

In this way, Peugeot offers a cross between 308 and 508, at a lower cost since the 408 takes up the dashboard of the 308. We find the inevitable small kart steering wheel which is not suitable for certain morphologies and Peugeot could have seized the occasion of the crossover to make it more versatile. But the common base pushed for the resumption of the existing one. The only generalist manufacturer to do so is Renault, whose Arkana derives from an even more modest base, the Clio.

To hide these borrowings, the design went wild and everyone will be able to appreciate in our photos the way the Lion has released its claw. The result is spectacular and very current. On the other hand, the repair of bodywork with such refined and complex contours will certainly not be within the reach of the first hammer to come.

Despite appearances that might lead one to hope, no V6 or V8 under the hood – Stellantis runs Alfa Romeo and Maserati – and, even worse, no in-house diesel. The engine profile is lower than that of the body, Peugeot unveiling this car at the Paris Motor Show in October with, at launch, a 130 hp petrol and two plug-in hybrids of 180 and 225 hp. This meager ammunition inevitably precedes the arrival of an electric e-408 in 2024. The electric magic wand could still offer this car versions at 300 or even 360 hp.