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Peugeot 407 Coupe review (2005-2011)
I can count the number of coupes offered by mainstream manufacturers on one hand. Hyundai offers their Coupe, Vauxhall the Monaro and Toyota the Celica and that’s about it.
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Of them only the Hyundai can be considered successful due to its low prices, the Toyota soon to be lost with no replacement likely and the Monaro selling to a tiny number of power-obsessed Vauxhall fans. So why then is Peugeot reviving its coupe, particularly as its beautiful Ferrari-esque 406 Coupe only ever managed 108,000 sales over its entire life – small fry in the volume market?
Small volume or not Peugeot seems determined to soldier on in the coupe market so the 407 Coupe is intended to pick up directly and build on where the 406 Coupe left off. It’s not a conventional looker and it’s certainly not pretty like its predecessor. It is however a striking design, and with that there’s a certain beauty. Recognisable as part of the 407 family the elongated snout with the decorative rather than functioning ‘gills’ on the flanks of the front bumper to the familial headlamps and gaping grille work surprisingly well; the 407 Coupe’s profile an attractive one. Pictures really don’t do it justice either, the 407 Coupe looking rather awkward and ungainly in photos. That’s quite at odds with its neat lines and smart detailing in the metal.
Overall though, there’s no denying that while it lacks the same aching ‘I want one’ looks of its predecessor it’ll undoubtedly demand your attention when you see it. And that, after all is what coupes are about. What they’re traditionally not about is practicality. But the 407 Coupe manages to make quite a convincing case as a useable family car. Most of the switchgear borrowed from its less glamorous saloon relative but it’s laid out neatly, only some of the plastics letting down the quality feel and look. The boot is vast and the two rear seats are genuinely useable. It certainly wouldn’t be cruel to put the kids in the back.
On the road
The driving experience doesn’t disappoint, either. A wider track combined with suspension changes that include shorter, stiffer springs and thicker anti-roll bars gives the coupe more even greater agility than its already impressive saloon relative. The V6 models feature standard computer controlled dampers that can be set to either sport or automatic settings with either setting provides progressive almost roll free cornering, the ride supple on smoother roads. At slow speeds on rippled surfaces it loses some of its composure, bumps being felt through the cabin. It’s a small price to pay for its otherwise impressive body control and handling, the Coupe’s suspension otherwise nicely balancing comfort and control on the Spanish roads on our test.
Variable hydraulic assistance of the steering of both the petrol and diesel V6 models reacts to engine and vehicle speed, steering angle and steering wheel speed. What’s impressive is that Peugeot has managed to provide the Coupe with a variable system without blighting the helm with artificial over-assistance, the weighting and response nicely judged and giving a decent amount of feel, too.
It works well with both the 211bhp, 3.0-litre petrol V6 and the heavier 205bhp, 2.7-litre turbodiesel V6. Both these six-cylinder units offer brisk rather than potent performance with the 3.0-litre V6 petrol managing the 0-62mph sprint in 8.4 seconds and the turbodiesel only 0.1 of a second slower at 8.5 seconds. But it’s the refinement that impresses most, particularly with the diesel. It’s a PSA/Ford developed unit and the same powerplant that’s used in Jaguar and Land Rover models to great acclaim. In the Peugeot it exhibits all the refinement as in its other installations, and the 330lbft of torque makes for easy, swift progress. Even the standard fitment of a six-speed automatic transmission doesn’t detract from its appeal, the smooth shifting refinement suiting the 407 Coupe’s calm, refined demeanour.
Peugeot expects this diesel to take around half the Coupe’s overall sales. Impressive as it is I’d seriously doubt that. For all Peugeot’s posturing and claiming that the Coupe will compete against rivals like BMW’s 3 Series coupe and the Mercedes CLK, it simply doesn’t have the badge appeal of such competition. Even with its cheaper list price and compared on a fully-loaded-adjusted-for-specification price it’s unlikely that buyers will consider the Peugeot as a serious option against premium German rivals. However, it’s not all bad news as the cheaper 2.2-litre four-cylinder petrol does make a great deal of sense as an alternative to a middling range executive saloon or high specification mainstream machine.
Consumption with the 2.2-litre petrol isn’t bad either with an official combined figure of 30.7mpg compared to the diesel’s rather average 33.2mpg (for those interested the 3.0 V6 petrol manages 27.6mpg). The smaller four-cylinder 2.2-litre petrol starts at around £22,000, too, compared to the V6 HDi’s near £30,000 cost (the 3.0-litre V6 petrol weighs in with a list price of £26,700). Specification might be generous in all the trim levels, but up at around £30,000 the V6 Peugeots face stiff competition from entry-level premium coupes; a CLK 200 Kompressor costs around £29,500 and is only around a second to 62mph slower and offers 32mpg capability. Sure, it won’t be anything like as well equipped, but it’s got that oh-so-important Mercedes badge.
And that’s the only area where the 407 Coupe fails; at this price point people are looking to buy into premium brands even if that means compromises. While it’s undoubtedly a striking looker and a very competent, enjoyable drive and practical too, it’s difficult to see where the 407 Coupe will garner its customers from in the current premium badge obsessed market. If Peugeot really wants it to sell well it’ll need a broader range of engines to allow it to compete better with a broader, more accessible price range. Otherwise the Coupe is destined to remain a fringe player in the UK. And that’s a shame, as otherwise the 407 Coupe is a very impressive car indeed.
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