Car reviews - Peugeot - 407 - Coupe HDi
Cool looks, quiet cabin, comfortable seats, build quality, turbo-diesel V6’s touring range
Room for improvement
Long and heavy doors, restricted boot access, fiddly steering column and console radio switchgear
14 Jul 2006
PEUGEOT has made a very sharp decision by making a twin-turbo diesel the range-topper of its 407 coupe range.
In this case it’s no ordinary diesel, but the outstanding V6 diesel that has already established a name for itself in the Land Rover Discovery and Jaguar S-Type.
In one clever move, putting a high-tech diesel under the bonnet of its new coupe raises the interest level in what is really a low-volume piece of the Peugeot sales puzzle locally.
However, it also manages to rid the Gallic car-maker of any lingering doubts that may remain about the lacklustre performance of the previous 406 Coupe.
The new coupe owes little to the previous Pininfarina-designed 406 two-door, but mimics its long, low and very handsome stance.
Adding the HDi turbo-diesel shoves the newcomer into the 21st century with gusto.
The sophisticated common-rail 24-valve twin-cam twin-turbo 2.7-litre V6 develops 150kW at 4000rpm and a very respectable 440Nm from 1900rpm. It features twin variable geometry turbochargers designed to eliminate lag and offer quick low-speed response.
Although 5kW down on power compared to the 3.0-litre petrol V6, it leapfrogs the best torque efforts of the petrol engine by a massive 150Nm.
The fact that this is available from 1900rpm makes the HDi a very flexible engine, doubled with an exhaust note that borders on sporty and a level of refinement that reveals little evidence of the diesel clatter, especially at idle, that afflicts other oil-burners.
The engine’s low-down response is helped by a superb six-speed automatic, which also offers a tiptronic-shift mode. Even a feather-light touch of the accelerator induces serious forward motion, making overtaking quick and effortless.
Peugeot quotes a zero to 100km/h time of 9.0 seconds for the automatic, which is respectable given that it tips the scales at a beefy 1724kg.
The HDi is a superb tourer and returns Peugeot to an era it once dominated – building comfortable, long-legged touring machines that will just keep getting better as the kilometres stack up.
Over almost 1000km, we managed 6.9L/100km over a mix of city and mostly country driving - not far off Peugeot’s claimed 6.5L/100km highway figure, giving the car a touring range of more than 1100km.
At a constant 110km/h the torquey HDi engine is spinning around 2000rpm, barely above idle. With the double-glazed side windows and laminated windscreen the cabin is a serine place to watch the world pass by. There’s also little wind or road noise.
A UV-coating on the sharply raked front windscreen not only aids sound deadening but reduces temperature build-up from the sun, optimising the air-conditioner’s efficiency.
Unlike the 406, the 407 Coupe offers a supple but well controlled ride.
Push-on and the car remains relatively neutral in the corners, with just a hint of understeer, and there is no tugging on the steering wheel from all that torque going to the front wheels.
The height and reach-adjustable steering wheel also offers plenty of feedback and remains communicative and free of any front-drive rack shudder over indifferent country roads. Most drivers will find the driving position agreeable.
The suspension, like the rest of the 407 range, consists of double wishbone front and integral multi-arm rear suspension. More aluminium components are used in the coupe’s suspension for light weight, strength and durability.
The coupe benefits from a wider front and rear track, as well as larger-diameter rollbars as it sits lower and is slightly wider than the sedan.
A variable damping system, courtesy of a switch on the console, offers a "sports" setting for sharper feedback.
However, in most circumstances the normal setting proved acceptable enough.
Switching between normal and sports mode was almost imperceptible. Sports mode may well have sharpened the suspension’s feel but induced a harsher ride.
Visually the coupe is deliberately, and successfully, differentiated from the sedan. It has a deeper front apron, flying buttress C-pillars and distinctive styling cues all-round - like the three "gills" ahead of the front wheels.
Inside the cabin is suitably more upmarket, although the dashboard borrows elements from the sedan. Occupants are cocooned in a quiet and leather-wrapped environment, from the hand-stitched leather seats to the meaty leather steering wheel.
Both front and rear seats are heavily bolstered, superbly comfortable and bring back memories of Pug seat’s of old initially soft but ever-so-supportive over long distances.
Luggage room is 400 litres with the rear seats up and, unlike with some other brands, the fold-flat seats are standard. Loading awkward items into the boot requires some thought though as the bootlid is shallow and the opening impeded by the tail-lights.
Like other Pug models, the coupe uses clapper-style windscreen wipers. Although they sweep the windscreen effectively they are still set up for left-hand drive.
The right-hand wiper still manages to leave quite a wide margin near the A-pillar that hinders visibility. Given the steep rake of the A-pillars and their thickness, distinquishing approaching cars at roundabouts in the rain requires a degree of caution.
In terms of equipment, the HDi wants for little.
Standard equipment includes remote central locking, climate control air-conditioning, electric windows/mirrors, six-speaker JBL CD stereo, front and rear parking sonar, six-stacker CD stereo, trip computer, cruise control, two 12-volt interior outlets, 18-inch alloys, active bi-Xenon headlights, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, heated electric front seats and 60/40 load-through facility.
Safety equipment too is comprehensive with dual front, side and curtain airbags as well as driver’s knee bag, traction control, ESP, ABS with EBD, brake assist, active front headrests, tyre pressure sensors and seatbelt pretensioners.
If the 407 HDi Coupe does not ring the right bells for you, wait a few months because Peugeot will be offering the same superb turbo-diesel and six-speed automatic in the 407 sedan.
But for now, the Coupe HDi truly has the performance to match its sportscar looks.
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