The cars we loved.
Peugeot is one of the oldest car producers in the world, dating back to the late 1800’s. The innovative engineering and technical efficiency associated Peugeots seldom conjures imagery of beautifully designed cars, but when French Flair is matched with Italian beauty, the end result can be stunning. One example of this union occurred in the late 90’s with the Italian designed Peugeot 406 Coupe.
First shown at the 1996 Paris Motorshow, the sleek concept was very close to the final production car. The Peugeots 406 sedan was the mechanical basis for the coupe, but shared no exterior body panels. Where the sedan was stodgy and upright, the coupe featured a graceful design that made the 406 appear far more expensive than it was. The body was designed and built by Pininfarina to Peugeots specifications. Mechanically, the 406 Coupe had a rather conventional McPherson strut front suspension and rear multi-link setup. Transmission choices included a 5-speed manual and 4-speed automatic. Inside, many of the interior components of the sedan were reused, with the exception of the seats which were leather Recardos configured in a true 2 + 2 setup. The dash had brush aluminum accents, contributing to a clean efficient look to the interior.
The Coupe was initially offered in two basic trim levels featuring a 4 and 6 cylinder gasoline engine. Even the base car was loaded with standard options including rain –sensitive wipers, air conditioning and power windows/locks. With around 140 hp in the 2.0L 4-cylinder the 406 offered adequate performance and a softer tuned ride on 16 in wheels. For those wanting more performance the 406 was available with a 3.0 L 24 valve V6 that produced close to 200 hp. Even in this configuration the 406 was never intended to be a performance car, but proved to be a more than capable GT with a top speed of 140 mph and a 0 to 60 time of under 8 seconds.
The 406 Coupe was also very efficient when paired with Peugeots advanced common rail 2.2 L HDi diesel engine, an available option after 1999 . It produced 131 hp, but had more torque than the larger V6. The 406 sedan received a major overhaul in 1999, while the Coupe eventually got a slightly revised front end and rear diffuser. Mechanically, it stayed pretty much the same save for the new diesel engine option. The 406 Coupe was very successful, especially in England where the largest 406 Coupe Club in Europe resides. Part of the reason for the popularity of the 406 Coupe was that it comfortably sat in the middle between all out sporty cars like Honda’s RSX Type R and more refined GT oriented coupes like the BMW’s 3 series in Europe, while looking more upscale than either one at a lower or comparable price point.
Everyone seemed to love the 406 Coupe, especially the press. One outlet, the London Herald, went so far as to declare that the 406 Coupe would become a modern classic. Resale values would seem to support this as the 406 Coupe retains almost as much of it’s initial value as the BMW 3 Series, one of the leading cars in it’s class in Europe. Sadly the 406 Coupe was never exported to the US, as Peugeot had given up on the American market in the early 90’s. The replacement 407 Coupe, designed in-house by Peugeot was more performance oriented, but lacked the graceful curves of the 406, even though it’s design was clearly derivative of it.