SOTW: PEUGEOT 406 COUPE
A slinky French coupe with a lusty V6 floats Shed's boat this week. Bonnet de douche!
406s generally are good cars. They were loved by the press at the time for their ‘Peugeotness’, a mystical state of being perhaps best expressed as a happy blend of sharp chassis and supple suspension. Nobody really knows where it went in subsequent cars. The 407 Coupe didn't have it, plus it was a hideous snaggle-toothed gopper.
Let’s get back to the 406 Coupe, as it’s more cheery. This one looks very clean, with just that split front valance to mar the view. Front wheel drive and a big motor that may be slightly less inspiring than you might think (it was also a little underwhelming in the Clio V6) make the Coupe more of a lover than a fighter. Bigger wheels make a big difference to the appearance of the car, but fitting them will dilute the standard car’s impressive ability to soak up bumps.
Seats that look right generally feel right, and the Recaros in the 406 Coupe are as comfy as a cat sipping cream from a saucer in front of a crackling log fire. One thing, though: once you’ve got them correctly positioned, don’t let anyone else drive the car unless they’re physically identical to you, because you don’t want to be using the electric adjustment mechanism any more than absolutely necessary. Same goes for the electric windows. Door stays can break because they weren’t upgraded from the saloon to take account of the Coupe’s heavier doors. Speedo sensors and engine management modules can fail and the amount of assistance from the variable power steering system can randomly change. Of course, you may be lucky and have no electrical trouble at all.
It is a three-litre engine, so performance will be meaty enough with either transmission. This one should be a 210hp VVT model (16hp up on the pre-2000 car) with a smooth 209lb ft of torque, 0-60 in 7.5 seconds, and a top speed just a Poirot-whisker short of 150mph. This later 210hp model also has multiplex wiring, which makes life fiddly when something goes wrong, but on the plus side remapping is an option.
Whichever V6 is under the bonnet, this is not an austerity choice from either fuel consumption, insurance or servicing perspectives. Clutches aren’t cheap, and nor is cambelt replacement on this big quad-cammer; including the water pump and the various tensioners (if they need doing – they might not) can easily take you up into the £600 zone. Change the spark plugs while you’re in there, because that’s a manifold-off job.
Once you’ve successfully negotiated that hurdle, taking care with general maintenance, level checking and so on should reward you with a long-lasting car, and also one with – if the evidence so far is any guide – equally long-lasting style.
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