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Friday 8th March 2013


SOTW: PEUGEOT 406 COUPE

A slinky French coupe with a lusty V6 floats Shed's boat this week. Bonnet de douche!


406 Coupes seem to feature here on a more or less annual basis (and this is the second Pininfarina car in two weeks) but Shed makes no apology for that. He feels he would be deserting his duty if he failed to bring good examples of this stylish machine to your attention because this is, as they say, a lot of car for the money.

V6 model sounds good and goes well
V6 model sounds good and goes well
As legend has it, the Coupe was originally intended as an entry-level Ferrari but the Italians said no and Peugeot picked it up. Mainly assembled in Italy, it came into being in 1997, won loads of ‘world’s most beautiful car’ awards and even gained passing fame as a handsome Touring Car.

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.

Pininfarina lines still look cracking
Pininfarina lines still look cracking
Inside, there’s plenty of room up front no matter how powerfully-built you may be, but don’t try to squeeze three mates in the back. Get round that by not having any mates; that will usefully prolong the life of the fragile front seat back release mechanism. The back seats handily fold down to boost the size of an already nicely spacious boot, allowing the transportation of surfboards or certain kinds of coffin.

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.

Heated leather in here. Mmm, toasty.
Heated leather in here. Mmm, toasty.
The 2.0 HDI version might seem like a more sensible purchase than the 3.0 V6, but the FAP particle filter in the diesel’s exhaust system is inclined to generate a frustratingly high number of anti-pollution fault messages. Another point in favour of this petrol car is its manual gearbox, not because it’s massively feelsome – it’s definitely not – but because the auto ’box isn't terribly reliable.

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.

Split bumper is only real cosmetic flaw
Split bumper is only real cosmetic flaw
With 83K recorded, this car is at the wrong end of its belt change window. Does the full service history include this job? If not, don’t fret: you still have options. You can stretch the change interval to 95K, depending on how the car’s been used; you can deaden the financial pain a bit by using a Renault Laguna belt kit; or you can take a Shedman’s chance and leave it, reasoning that if it does go pop you could swop in an HDI lump for less money that the cost of the belt 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.


Here's the ad:

Finished in Light Metallic Blue, Only 83000 miles with Service History and All Old MOTs, Last Owner for 6 years. Full Black Leather, Heated Seats, Electric Memory Seats, Cruise Control, Computer, Climate Air Conditioning, Alloys, Electric Windows, Electric Mirrors, Remote Stereo Controls. MOT until February 17th 2014 and Tax until the End of June 2013. Very Good condition and Drives Well. We have taken this car in part exchange and it is now a PX To Clear. Trade Sale, HPi Clear. First £950 Buys it ! No Offers.

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