How do you follow up the gorgeous 406 Coupe? With the distinctly un-gorgeous 407 Coupe. It didn’t go well. Words Tony Middlehurst.
MODERN NOT CLASSIC
Classic or not... We explore old car no man’s land
Funny things, coupes. When they’re purpose-built like the Cayman or the Alpine, they’re usually pretty amazing. What’s not so amazing is when car firms attempt to sex up their saloons and family hatches by bunging a sloping roofline on them and then expecting rear passengers to bend themselves into unlikely shapes in order to access their headroom-restricted seating. Peugeot has mixed form here. You wouldn’t mind getting your leg caught in the seatbelts of a 406 Coupe because that was a great-looking car and we should all be prepared to make sacrifices in the name of art. In 2004, its successor, the 407 Coupe attempted to carry the baton forward.
‘THESE DAYS YOU CAN PICK UP A 407 COUPE FOR ABOUT £1.50’
It no longer carried the Pininfarina badge, but viewed from certain angles and painted in the right colour the 407 Coupe did have some factory charm of its own. Peugeot said that its wider track gave better handling, but imagining what a standard-width one would have looked like with that pendulous front overhang and Peugeot’s corporate guppy mouth was the stuff of nightmares.
The 407 Coupe was interesting in one way: drivetrains. It came with two that you couldn’t get in the regular 407. Unfortunately a heavy, old-tech 2.7 V6 diesel or a gas-guzzling 3.0 petrol with manual weren’t what you wanted in what was supposed to be a light footed coupe of themid-2000s, when worries about burning through the planet’s resources were already high.
A cynic might have wondered whether Peugeot had a warehouse of old engines they needed to lose, or that they had rationalised the idea large-capacity engines would justify the Coupe’s £7k premium over the saloon. That was a massive price hike for some hand-stiched moo, dash panels that were stamped out of real aluminium rather than plastominium, and fewer doors.
Whichever Peugeot’s plan was, it didn’t work. Test reviews quickly confirmed that the 2.2 petrol was the least daft 407 Coupe option, so you could pay over the odds for a juicy dinosaur-engined Coupe, or relatively speaking even more over the odds for a conventionally engined one. Mad pricing plus the prospect of a sphincter-tighteningly high company car tax bill – a sensation that would have been brought into painful focus every time the owner inserted their digit into the ‘0’ of the 407 boot badge to open up the hatchback – meant that the 407 Coupe had to metaphorically cover up its privates in the company of rivals which by and large were not only a superior drive but also less depreciative. These days you can pick up a 407 Coupe for about £1.50.
The 2004 launch ad for the 407 was filmed in Sydney and had a soundtrack by French duo The Film, whose association with Peugeot boosted their career to such an extent that they had to seek anonymity not long afterwards by renaming themselves The Shoes. Their 407 ad track was entitled Can You Touch Me. In the case of the 407 Coupe the answer, apparently, was no.