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Peugeot 407 Coupe Sport V6 HDI 240

Click to view picture gallerySultry and chic in that sexy way
  that only the French can manage,
  Peugeot’s 151mph Coupe is not
  only easy on the eyes but, thanks
  to a V6 turbodiesel nestling under
  its low bonnet, unexpectedly
  economical too...”

EVEN IN A DOWNSIZING SOCIETY, self-image is still of paramount importance. As the old maxim has it: you are what you drive. And of all the body styles available, it is the coupe that's generally perceived as being the most desirable.

Which is the perfect cue for Peugeot's svelte 151mph 407 Coupe, tested here in its latest incarnation — the distinctive Sport V6 HDI 240. Downsizing? Oh yes, even people with much more expensive cars are downsizing but while they may have transferred out of a Jaguar XJS or a Mercedes CLK, they'll still want to retain some of the visual zing of their previous mount. This makes the £28K 407 Coupe all the more appealing. And for those lucky enough to be climbing the 'ladders' rather than sliding down the 'snakes', the 407 Coupe makes an admirable aspirational purchase.

While the shark-eyed and shark-nosed Coupe wears the range's '407' numeric ID, it's a stand alone model so far as looks go — the accomplished and aerodynamic styling cleverly disguises the fact that this four-seater 'grand tourer' coupe is the largest of the three-model 407 family. For any money — but even more so for under £30K — this is one very elegant set of wheels. Fans of Peugeot's coupes will be aware that previous versions have worn the Pininfarina 'signature' but credit for the added testosterone tangible in this latest generation must go to the French company's in-house designers.

The Coupe also sports a wider track, accounting for it being just over two inches broader in the beam. It's also longer, by 5.5 inches, and obviously lower. The bigger (and structurally stiffer) Coupe weighs in at 1,781kg, optimising this with an aluminium bonnet, composite boot lid and frameless doors. Offsetting its kerb weight is the built-in refinement that comes as standard — for instance, heavier laminated glass in the side windows that improves acoustic comfort.

While the two-door, four-seater 407 Coupé faces competition from established premium brands, the Peugeot fields two clear 'aces': exclusivity (only a limited number are available in the UK) and its comprehensive tally of standard equipment.

The V6 HDi only comes in one specification: appropriately, it's 'Sport'. That means Speedline cloth interior trim, dual-zone climate control, chilled glovebox, radio/CD player, 6-disc CD autochanger, 3-stage electric heated seats, power auto-fold mirrors, one-shot up/down front windows (the rear panes are fixed), power-fold door mirrors, auto-dimming rear view mirror, high-end 3D colour satellite navigation system (includes Bluetooth hands-free), cruise control with speed limiter, rear parking sensors, drive-off auto door locking, laminated side windows, adjustable electronic suspension, tyre pressure sensors, auto headlights and wipers and on-board computer.

Comfort isn’t the reserve
of those sitting up front:
rear passengers can
settle down in individual
sculpted seats offering
plenty of room
Other essential kit includes 18-inch alloy wheels, Xenon headlights, ESP and a full complement of airbags — front, front side and curtain as well as a steering column airbag for the driver's knees — along with a five-star EuroNCAP safety rating.

Pull open a door and settle in one of the luxurious-looking, well-proportioned and well-bolstered seats — there's a satisfyingly 'quality' thud as the door closes. Upholstered in Lama Grey leather (an absolutely 'must-have' £1,500 option), the seats (with three stage heating) are set rakishly low and immediately prove to be as comfortable and supportive as they are plushly sporty. The driver gets eight-way power adjustment and two memory settings. And, thanks to generous reach and rake adjustment for the three-spoke steering wheel (beautifully wrapped in tactile perforated leather), a first class driving position is guaranteed.

Piano black, burnished aluminium and classy chrome highlights set the tone, along with dials featuring slim chrome bezels and clear and easy-to-read white graphics on dark-grey faces. There's a two-level pop-up central armrest and other nice touches include an air-conditioned glovebox. And making the Coupe an easy car to live with on an everyday basis, there are lots of good-sized cubbies — even the front door pockets are lined and will store a wine bottle.

Comfort isn't the reserve of those sitting up front, either: rear passengers can settle down in individual sculpted seats offering plenty of room with good armrests either side. Max headroom in the back is for those no taller than 5' 10" — but then that's almost always the case with coupes. The good news is that rear passengers enjoy a clear view out. And access to the rear cabin is refreshingly easy, courtesy of front seats that automatically glide fully forwards when folded and then return faithfully to their original position. Worth a mention are the frameless door windows because dropping the glass can make getting in and out in tight spaces much easier.

The boot, a regular-shaped 400-litres, swallows overnight luggage for four adults and the 60:40 split/fold rear seats — rather unusual in a coupe — come in handy as does the ski-hatch. Folded down, they add unexpected, but valuable, versatility. Externally, there's a natty electronic release button disguised as the '0' of the 407 bootlid badge. Alternatively, you can stick with the remote.

Look around and you can't miss the impressive fit and finish throughout the airy cabin. The SatNav, neatly integrated into the central stack, is superb; its display offers sharp images as well as trip computer and telephone information and it really is easy to work. While the centre stack looks rather 'busy', all the important function controls are easy to find and recall. And when you have to reverse at night you'll appreciate the ability to switch off the auto-dimming rear view mirror.

Driving the big Coupe
requires little effort from
the driver. It’s a well
sorted car and handles
more than capably
Wake up the Coupe's 240 horses and what you notice most in the cabin is… the silence! If you didn't know better, you wouldn't believe there's a diesel unit — especially a 240bhp 24-valve V6 — installed under the bonnet. On the move, cabin ambience is exactly what you'd expect from a competent 'Grand Tourer' — passengers are agreeably insulated from the world passing by outside. Cruising at speed is accompanied by the distant, soothing hum of the V6; wind and road noise are so well-contained that everyone aboard can relax and enjoy the playlist from the powerful eight-speaker JBL sound system (a £400 option). From an owner's point of view, loping along the motorways is equally rewarding because of the chance to achieve the official 50.4mpg.

This engine is one of the nicest diesel units around: the power delivery is impressively smooth and perfectly suited to the polished six-speed sequential automatic transmission that offers fully automatic, sequential manual and sport modes. With 338lb ft of torque delivered from a low 1,600rpm, performance is as punchy as it is flexible. The only clue that this isn't a petrol unit is the rev-counter's 4,300rpm red-line. Okay… work it and you can hear it's a V6 — you just can't tell that it's a diesel.

In keeping with its composed GT character it makes sense to let the auto 'box do all the work for you. From looking at the figures it would be understandable to see the V6 Coupe as something of a rubber-burning hooligan — but you'd be wrong. That's not to say it doesn't party: standstill to the benchmark 62mph is done and dusted in 7.9 seconds and it will run all the way up to 151mph.

Another major benefit of the turbodiesel power is, of course, the fuel economy. Official consumption figures for the 3.0-litre HDi are 28.2, 39.2 and 50.4mpg respectively for Urban, Combined and Extra-urban. During our week with the car we recorded an overall average of 34.6mpg.

Driving the big Coupe requires little effort from the driver. It's a well sorted car and handles more than capably. Traction is good for a powerful front-wheel drive car — in spite of the 338lb ft of torque being sent through the front wheels, there's no discernible torque steer. And the pretty impressive grip and stability, coupled with an almost complete absence of roll, makes this 407 Coupe a trustworthy steed — whether you're wafting around the lanes taking in the scenery or pressing on down the motorway. The brakes — big, hefty vented discs at the front — are powerful and get on with the job without attracting your attention: your foot presses; you stop.

When called upon to do so, the Coupe is a vigorous ground coverer. Push the button on the centre stack to permanently lock the electronically adjustable dampers in their firmest setting and move the selector lever to the left (into 'manual' mode — there's also a Sport mode as well as a Winter setting) and you can exploit the torque-rich V6's effortless flexibility using light fore and aft taps on the gear lever to trigger instant and fluent up and down shifts and maximise control on quicker secondary roads.

However, most of the time the 'Auto' damper setting is perfectly fine for managing both 'soft' and 'hard' driving styles, particularly with the autobox in its Sport setting. With transmission and dampers in Auto modes, you'll enjoy a tranquil and well-controlled ride. Speed humps, however, are best taken at moderate speeds. For the record, the Coupe's unruffled ride quality was achieved running on 19-inch alloys wearing low-pro 235/40 Pirelli P Zero tyres.

In town, the steering is pleasantly weighted. A touch on the light side, perhaps, but combined with good front and side visibility it makes easy work of placing what is a really quite a long and wide car. Nor is parking a problem, thanks to the standard-fit rear parking aid that provides both audible and visual feedback; it's also very accurate, even picking out low kerbs.

So, how did it do? The 407 Coupe in V6 turbodiesel guise is an elegant and comfortable Grand Tourer that will waft you from A to B in limousine majesty, quietly and more frugally than many of its more expensive rivals — and for less than £30K. For drivers with no need of a badge to define who they are, it's a welcome option to the more expensive German brands. — MotorBar

Peugeot 407 Coupe Sport V6 HDi 240
| £28,090
Maximum speed: 151mph | 0-62mph: 7.9 seconds | Overall test MPG: 34.6mpg
Power: 240bhp | Torque: 338lb ft | CO2 189g/km | Insurance group 17E/40E