It's gorgeous. End of story. Well, maybe just a few more words. When Peugeot made exterior changes to the 406 saloon and estate, it left the Coupé alone. That made sense from the financial and organisational points of view, because, while the other cars are part of mainstream Peugeot production in France, the coupé is built in Italy by Pininfarina, whose styling expertise is immediately obvious.
It made aesthetic sense too, because what could they possibly have done to improve the looks of a car which is just about the finest expression of the volume-production coupé designer's art? The 406 Coupé is a triumph of pure styling line, and they'd tinker with it at their peril.
This car is so beautiful that I didn't mind driving one with yellow paintwork and another finished in a kind of pearlescent raspberry. All the same, I'm not besotted to the point of thinking that the Peugeot feels as solidly built as it might have been, say, in Munich.
To take the car into the year 2000, the fascia has been redesigned, and the switchgear is less fiddly. The instruments are entirely round now, and, despite a polite difference of opinion about it, I'm sure that's a change from the original car, where the speedo and revcounter had . . . well, flat bottoms. The door mirrors fold in, and, thanks to its leather rim, the chrome-topped gear lever knob avoids freezing the palm of your hand on a cold day as so many of these gadgets do.
There are still Pininfarina badges on each side of the car, but no longer on the fascia. Pity, that.
Sharing the 406 saloon platform, and with a roomier passenger cabin than some others of its type, the Coupé is a very pleasant car out on the road. A five-speed manual box is standard, but there's a new four-speed automatic.
Peugeot knows how to balance accurate handling against good ride quality. Both damping and power assistance to the steering are variable. And with uprated Brembo brakes the V6 not only goes purposefully but also hauls itself down very securely. It's a most engaging long-distance cruiser, especially when the admiring glances of other drivers add to your air of personal well-being.
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