Peugeot 407 Coupe SE HDi

Pride is at stake at Peugeot. Dealers are having a hard time trying to shift the 107 city car and unconventional 1007 supermini-MPV, so the French firm is hoping that this new 407 Coupe will be a hit. And its task isn't made any easier by the fact that the two-door's predecessor looked like an entry-level Ferrari...

As with its predecessor, the styling of the 407 Coup� will be a big factor in its success. However, unlike the 406, the latest model's unconventional lines won't be universally popular. As a long-distance cruiser it's first class, and while the 2.7-litre engine isn't the most economical diesel around, it does provide impressive and relaxed performance.

Pride is at stake at Peugeot. Dealers are having a hard time trying to shift the 107 city car and unconventional 1007 supermini-MPV, so the French firm is hoping that this new 407 Coupe will be a hit. And its task isn't made any easier by the fact that the two-door's predecessor looked like an entry-level Ferrari...

Auto Express was first behind the wheel of the newcomer to find out if the latest in-house-designed Peugeot coupe can pick up where the Pininfarina-styled 406 version left off.

Following in the tracks of the 407 saloon, the lines of the two-door will divide opinion before you even reach the driver's seat. It's a car you'll either love or loathe, with a pronounced front overhang that provides an awkward appearance in profile.

The gaping grille and slanted headlamps give it Peugeot's family look, but the gills in the front bumper seem out of place. And while the Coup� scores points for its handsome rear, the overall effect is odd rather than beautiful.

The interior is much better, and of the three specifications available - S, SE and GT - only the entry-level S model doesn't come with leather upholstery as standard. Aluminium trim gives the cabin a lift, but space for rear seat passengers is tight. At least the chairs fold, helping to boost the decent-sized boot.

Our test car was equipped with the 205bhp 2.7-litre HDi V6, which has been developed in partnership with Jaguar. It's the first time Peugeot has offered the unit in a UK car, although it has already appeared in a Europe-only version of the 607 executive and the Jag S-Type.

On the move, this engine provides impressive performance, but economy isn't its strongest point, with 33mpg a realistic target. A 0-62mph time of 8.5 seconds is quick, yet the powerplant has been developed with refinement in mind. So while it's hushed at idle and doesn't really become much more vocal at faster cruising speeds, it lacks the punch of some more expensive rivals.

A six-speed manual gearbox is available with both the 2.2-litre and 3.0-litre V6 petrol models, but customers opting for the top 2.7-litre oil-burner can only specify a six-speed automatic. Still, that's no bad thing, because the self-shifter is smooth and suits the diesel's low-down torque. This transmission also offers a sharper sport setting, and even allows drivers to select gears manually in sequential mode - although the full automatic setting is where the chunky lever will spend most of its time.

The Coupe shares its underpinnings with the 407 saloon, and as a result its smooth and compliant ride comes as no surprise. As with Peugeot models of the past, the handling hasn't been ignored, and although the Coupe is no sports car, it does offer precise steering. More importantly, body roll is limited, and the electronically controlled dampers can be firmed up via a dash-mounted button.

Equipment is generous, with directional xenon headlamps and front park-ing sensors fitted to all but the entry-level model. There's also a dashboard-mounted colour display for the major cabin functions, including dual-zone climate control. Safety kit isn't in short supply, either, with ESP stability control and seven airbags as standard.

Prices will start at £21,900 when the Coupe hits showrooms in January, and it's the entry-level versions which could prove to be the best option. Without any direct rival, both the flagship 3.0-litre V6 and the 2.7-litre diesel driven here are priced against some stiff competition. Those lured by the Peugeot's distinctive lines will be turning down some tempting premium badges.

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