As big family cars go, the Peugeot 406 with its smooth lines was pretty impressive. The most popular version was a four-door saloon that shared a platform with the Citroen Xantia, but this was complemented by a five-door estate car and a sporty two-door coupe designed and built near Turin by Italian performance specialist Pininfarina. There was a choice of engines — initially a 1.8 litre or 2 litre petrol engine, with a 1.9 litre turbodiesel option. But over time there would also be a 2.2 litre and 3 litre V6 lining up beside the petrol pump, with a 2 litre, 2.1 litre and 2.2 litre queuing for diesel. Two of the latter engines had the Hdi (High-pressure Diesel Injection) system.
The front-engined, front-wheel drive 406 superseded the ageing Peugeot 405 in 1995 and continued to sell well for nearly a decade, proving to be a great success for the French manufacturer. The key to the 406’s commercial appeal was the fact that it offered efficient and sophisticated diesel engines at a time when there was a general switch (especially in Continental Europe) to the alternative fuel for reasons of economy and reduction in air pollution.
The 406 enjoyed a major facelift in 1999, with an external redesign that brought in a pleasing new ribbed look and style accents like a new honeycomb grille and smooth glass headlamp arrays. The interior got a serious makeover, too, with the emphasis on additional space. But the most significant changes were invisible — more powerful and fuel-efficient engine choices, improved transmission, better suspension and brakes. Thus fortified, the 406 continued to be a popular choice with European car buyers until it was finally discontinued in 2004. Egyptian production of the 406 carried on regardless after the Peugeot 407 took over elsewhere.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
France (also built in the UK, Italy and Egypt)
1995 (until 2004)
Various including: 1,761 cc to 2,230 cc Straight Four; 2,946 cc V6; 1,905 cc to 2,179 cc Straight Four Diesel.
With 1.8 I engine — top speed of 117 mph (188 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 11.5 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The Peugeot 406 competed in the British Touring Car Championship in 1996, winning a couple of races (one each for Tim Harvey and Patrick Watts) — a feat that helped to establish the 406 as a major player in the competitive UK car market.