Peugeot 406 2.0 HDi


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May 15, 2023

Peugeot 406 2.0 HDi

Remember a couple of weeks ago when we had a Peugeot 407 Coupe? Shed doesn't

Remember a couple of weeks ago when we had a Peugeot 407 Coupe? Shed doesn't because he bumped his head in a motorbike spill last year and now he can't remember what he did ten minutes ago, let alone two weeks back. But actually the reappearance of Peugeot so soon after the last one is justified by the fact that it's a 406, the car to which our 407 was so negatively compared, and it's a nice one too. Plus it's the first 406 saloon to appear in SOTW for eight years (the few others we've had have been Coupes or estates), and it's the first 406 diesel SOTW ever (the others have all been big V6 petrols).

For many the 406 was the last great Peugeot, both in terms of how it looked as well as how it went. They were solid, comfortable cars with plush suspension and relaxing seats, and in the view of many happy owners the 2.0 HDi diesel was peak 406. It was a superb unit with a great rep for refinement and for carrying on regardless.

Our 77,000-mile LX is the desirable 110 model (there was a 90 variant with 88hp) but even with ‘only’ 107hp the drive felt effortless. Motoring was different in them days. 400hp wasn't the bare minimum. If you felt you needed to tweak your HDi, a small remap would give you a scorching 125hp and getting on for 60mpg.

Potential problems? Well, it's a French car of a certain age so the electrics probably won't be 100 per cent reliable. The central info display might not illuminate, the headlamps might chew through lots of bulbs if you don't prevent moisture buildup inside the units, and the rear windows might not travel up and down in the approved manner when you press the driver's door switches – but this is not a problem on the LX as it's got keep-fit rear windows.

Clutches could go, which wasn't a 406-exclusive thing. More specifically to the 406 HDi, the throttle cable tensioner clip might ping off, leaving you with no pedal resistance and the late-1990s equivalent of limp-home mode. Excessive smoking under load prompted some owners to blank off the EGR valve but usually all that did was light up the MIL (malfunction indicator lamp) unless you had the EGR written out of the ECU. QED?

This is a one-owner car and by the looks of the MOT history that ownership has been all but incident-free. From 2006 to 2014 the car was averaging 4,000 miles per annum. For the next four years it was 2-3,000, tapering to 2,000 for the next few and then 1,000 for the last three. There have been two test fails in the last 17 years, one for low tyre tread and the other for a wiper blade, not what you’d call heart-stoppers on the rejection note. For the worst advisory in all that time take your pick between a corroded rear spring and a slightly wobbly passenger seat. Other than that it's all gravy, or jus if you want to go Gallic on our culs. No rust, no leaks, nothing. It might be a trick of the light but there seems to be a dent on the trailing edge of the nearside wing. If it is, it looks very pull-outable.

This 406 is top dollar at nineteen seventy-five, but Shed does remember that being a good year. Peugeot launched its new flagship motor in '75, the 604, but that didn't last anywhere near as long as Shed's all-time favourite Peugeot, the 504, which by 1975 wasn't even halfway into its fifteen-year single-generation sales life in France. That was nothing though, they sold it for 36 years in Kenya, from 1968 to 2004.

Although the philosophy of 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' doesn't permeate every aspect of Shed's life, the longevity of the 504 certainly reflects his views on needless disposability. That's why he's still using the same crash helmet that he was wearing when he had his bike accident, even though you're really meant to throw them away.

Mrs Shed isn't complaining either. Her hubby has been much nicer to her since she emptied his bike's brake master cylinder, though she does wonder why he keeps asking her for first class stamps.