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Future Classic Friday: Peugeot 406 Coupe

Published 09 June 2017

When the Peugeot 406 Coupe was launched in 1997, there was a rumour circulating around the automotive industry that it was, in fact, a design created by Pininfarina for Ferrari, but rejected by the Italian brand.

There was a good reason behind this. For a few years, there had been speculation that Ferrari was about to launch a baby model. A rival, if you will, for the Porsche Boxster.

It never happened, nor, it transpired, was it ever on the cards. The reason the 406 Coupe looked so much like a shrunken Ferrari 456GT was simply because it was a textbook coupe from the Pininfarina copybook. The fact that people associated it with Ferrari was nothing other than flattery, albeit very well deserved.

Pininfarina has created some beautiful cars over the years, often for some exotic brands. But the fact remains that one of its most stunning creations didn't wear the name of a thoroughbred Italian brand, but that of a French manufacturer renowned for diesel engines, superminis and run of the mill fleet fodder.

Peugeot 406 Coupe (3)

At the time of the Coupe's launch, Peugeot's model range was one of the prettiest on the market - the 106, 206, 306 and 406 were all handsome machines - indeed, some would argue that they were the last good looking Peugeots, as the models that followed were somewhat challenging to the eye - so the two-door flagship was a nice halo model for the brand.

It was also cheap - priced from around £20,000, it matched models such as the Alfa GTV and Honda Prelude on cost, but was a far more refined and spacious GT. If there were any criticism of the 406 Coupe, it was that it was no sports car.

Although the 406 saloon on which it was based was among the nicer cars in the large saloon class to drive, with good handling and an excellent ride, these traits lent themselves better towards comfort than dynamic edginess. It meant the 406 Coupe was never going to be an out-and-out driver's car, but as a fast, comfortable cruiser with sensational looks, it was the perfect choice of transcontinental tourer.

Two engines were offered at launch - a 2.0-litre petrol in the 'all mouth and no trousers model', and the 3.0 V6 from the range-topping 406 saloon and estate. The V6 'SE' also got standard leather and was sumptuously well equipped, making it the one to go for today. That is, of course, unless you want to cover a big mileage.

Peugeot 406 Coupe (4)

For that, the 2.2-litre HDi diesel model, introduced in 2001, is the one to go for - it's both quicker and more economical than the 2.0-litre, and was one of the first coupes in its class to be powered by a diesel engine - something only BMW had dared to do previously.

With the oldest examples now being 20 years old, the 406 Coupe is, of course, not without its faults. The biggest concern is rust - the sills tend to rot out and conceal it far too well, meaning that by the time a car fails its MoT, the welding repairs are substantial. You've been warned... Other problems include oil leaks from the cam covers on V6 models - an easy enough fix, but on a car that suffers from the fault it's important to check it hasn't been starved of lubricant. 

By far the most attractive thing about the 406 Coupe, though (other than its looks, obviously) is the price you can pick one up for these days. The few really immaculate examples already in the hands of collectors are the exceptions, but as a general rule they're rarely more than a grand, with presentable cars available from as little as £500. At that price, we'd buy one just to look at it.

Comments

gazzag    on 13 June 2017

Its funny that (in my mind) Peugeot and Citroen can't have nice cars at the same time. Back in the lat 80s and 90s, Peugeot had some nice cars and Citroen some ugly ones. For the past 10 years Citroen has had some great looking cars and Peugeot some right ugly ones.

Gary

   on 24 July 2017

well, the coupe never had 2.0 hdi.
it might have not been a sports car, but it's firmer than regular 406 for sure.

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