Before we talk about the virtues of the Peugeot 407 Coupe, we need to address the elephant in the room. Or is it a shark? Peugeot, in the 2000s, had thrown out their attractive, delicate design language, and was instead introducing chunky, bass-mouthed cars like the 407. What made the 407 Coupe especially egregious was the fact that its predecessor, the Pininfarina-penned 406 Coupe, was absolutely gorgeous.
Seriously. Look at this. Even if it was effectively the French equivalent of a Toyota Solara–a front-wheel-drive coupe based on a mainstream mid-size sedan–the 406 Coupe was truly a beautiful car.
Then there were designs like the 306, which has held up extremely well…
…and the 406, which was handsome at first…
…and pleasingly aggressive after its facelift.
Along came the 407 sedan, though, with its huge front overhang but tiny rear overhang…
…and the 407 wagon, which seems to be trying to evoke a modern day Rambler.
Luckily, the 407 Coupe, designed in-house, retained some good angles, redeeming an otherwise inelegant lineup. The rear, for example, was an improvement over the sedan. The coupe was lower than other 407s and featured a wider track, lending it a more hunkered down stance.
The frameless windows were a nice touch, but these doors were personal luxury coupe long and very heavy. The coupe’s wheelbase was the same length as the sedan at 107.28 inches.
The interior was also the same as the sedan’s, for better or worse. Note the fiddly switchgear along with very comfortable seats.
Rear legroom was tight, but the seats could at least split and fold to expand the 14.12 cubic feet trunk. How often would one be driving around passengers in a coupe, anyway?
Three engines were available: a 2.2 four (160hp, 162 ft-lbs), a 3.0 V6 (211hp, 213 ft-lbs) and a 2.7 turbodiesel V6 (205hp, 324 ft-lbs). Only the latter two came to Australia, the diesel six being the same one used in the Jaguar XF and XJ, Range Rover Sport and various other vehicles. This was a silky smooth unit with critics praising the 407 Coupe for its effortless power delivery and cruising abilities.
As is typical in Australia for anything premium or luxury, these were pricey beasts. The flagship diesel V6 listed at $AUD72,000, quite a sum more than the lower-trim sedans which started in the high 30s/low 40s. Of course, for that money you got a lot of kit: front and rear park assist, heated seats, and active bi-Xenon headlights were just the tip of the iceberg. You were also getting something very exclusive and extremely striking.
Computer-adaptive dampers allowed for a 407 driver to switch between “comfort” and “sport” settings. These were best left in “comfort,” though, for that good old-fashioned Peugeot ride; despite competent dynamics, these cars were made for cruising in silence. The 3.0 V6 was available with a manual, but it was ill-suited to the character of the car and suffered excessively long throws, while the six-speed automatic was well-calibrated.
The 407 Coupe was not without its flaws, but it was charmingly unique. While the rest of the Peugeot lineup at the time was less aesthetically pleasing, Peugeot seems to have seen the error of its ways. The ungainly cars of the last decade now replaced by handsome offerings like the latest 208, 308 and 508 which have earned the respect of automotive journalists for good dynamics and attractive interiors. The 2014 308, for example, won European Car of the Year.
It’s a critical time for PSA. They have been bleeding money for some time now, and are trying to stem the flow by focussing on their core products and introducing a new global modular platform. They are also trying to eliminate overlap between their two core brands by reinforcing Citroen’s position as their mainstream line–featuring appealing budget models like the Cactus–and shifting Peugeot a little further upmarket. Citroen’s semi-premium DS sub-brand is set to become a full-fledged marque in due course, too.
Will there ever be a 407 Coupe replacement? It’s highly unlikely. Faced with slow sales of the handsome 508 sedan, the incentive simply isn’t there.
In the meantime, if you want a large French two-door, you can always buy a Renault Laguna Coupe.