PUBLICITY is king when you’re a car company with a new model around the corner. The rationale behind many whacky publicity stunts by car-makers is to make buyers wait for their car and not buy something from another brand.
Peugeot’s latest publicity stunt surrounds the forthcoming 408 due next year.
Revealed internationally in June, the new 408 is scheduled for production early 2023 with styling that is somewhere between sleek fastback meets SUV.
Peugeot has come up with a novel way to keep it front and center in the minds of (French) buys; jam one into a transparent rotating sphere and erect it outside the Louvre-Lens art museum…. not to be confused with the Louvre in Paris.
The “other” Louvre art museum is approximately 200km north of Paris and displays objects from the collections of the Musée du Louvre that are slow to the gallery on a medium- or long-term basis.
“We really liked the idea of this ephemeral work of art, which is original and beautiful to look at, and which perfectly accentuates our new arrival,” said Peugeot brand CEO Linda Jackson.
“The new Peugeot 408’s original style has been praised by many people who have already discovered it. It has been presented in a very original way, in the magnificent and modern setting of the Louvre-Lens.”
It’s an attention-grabbing ploy that capitalizes on the juxtaposition between the rounded shape of the transparent, car-containing mobile sphere and various works of art contained in and around the Louvre-Lens precinct.
Peugeot’s sphere is an unexpected setting for a new car that raised some eyebrows but the company has a lot of clout in the right places and no doubt, many will see the installation as a version of “modern art”.
The rotating Pug sphere presents new 408 from all angles and was revealed on August 4.
The car itself is a big departure from what has come to be expected from Peugeot which, apart from the RCZ, has for the past few decades, produced fairly conservative designs with mass market appeal.
With its dynamic fastback look, Peugeot wanted the 408 display to be inspirational and signed up a team of artists, engineers, and technicians from the Parisian creative studio Superbien to implement the project imagined by the OPEn agency.
They transformed it into what Peugeot calls a “breathtaking reality” that seems to defy gravity.
The rationale behind a sphere is to create a setting where viewers would ask, “Where is the top? Where is the bottom? How can the new Peugeot 408 turn upside down or twist and move around in such an unusual way?”
The answer is this transparent sphere that surrounds the car and displays it from all angles.
Peugeot’s intention is to treat the 408 sphere as a “work of art” to be shown again at other events.
“Peugeot moves and innovates in all areas,” said Peugeot brand marketing and communication director Phil York.
“The transparent sphere, designed for the new Peugeot 408, shows the allure of our new model from all sides. This creation is perfectly in line with Peugeot’s global expression of its new brand identity”.
In 408, Peugeot has resurrected the 408 nameplate that will initially be available with a choice of three engines, two petrol-electric plug-in hybrids and one conventional 1.2-liter turbo-petrol, then, down the track, a fully electric version.
With the medium sedan segment almost dead in sales terms, it’s no surprise Peugeot has gone with the quasi-SUV stance of a 408 fastback.
It is likely 408 will be available in a range of models but the Australian line-up will almost certainly be limited to possibly a couple of variants, and the EV.
The two hybrids, badged as the 180 and the 225, share a 1.6-liter low-boost turbo-petrol engine with a single in-line electric motor attached to boost performance and aid fuel economy. Both can be plugged in to charge the battery which also recharges dynamically.
The 180 (hp) is good for 133kW cumulative power while the 225 (hp) is good for 165kW cumulative power and both achieve a maximum 360Nm of torque from as low as 1500rpm up to 2500rpm.
No performance or fuel economy details have been provided by Peugeot suffice to say any medium size car that weighs around 1400kg with 165kW and 360Nm on tap is going to deliver plenty of performance.
The entry level 408 PureTech 130 (hp) runs a three-cylinder turbo petrol engine good for 96kW and 230Nm outputs. As the lightest weight 408, performance should be sufficient. Like the other hybrids, it scores an eight-speed auto.
The hybrid technology used in 408 is fairly generic by today’s standards and is similar to what is used in numerous other vehicles… Peugeot seems to be hedging its bets by offering the two hybrids as plug-ins with, presumably, limited EV range and long(ish) recharge times.
No details about the EV version are available suffice to say the car will likely leverage EV powertrain technology from within the Stellantis group which owns Peugeot.
The new 408 will arrive at the beginning of 2023 coming out of Peugeot’s factory at Mulhouse, France, for the European market and then, soon afterwards, out of the Chengdu factory in China for the local market.
After the global unveiling of 408 in June, Peugeot Australia managing director Kate Gillis said: “It is with great excitement I can confirm that the new Peugeot 408 will launch in Australia. We are currently working closely with the factory on launch timings for our market and look forward to sharing more information in due course.”