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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For It's refined, has composed handling, excellent diesels and decent load space

Against The driver's seat lacks support, and room for passengers in the back is restricted

Verdict The 406 is a competent, comfortable load-hauler. It's cheap, has a lovely ride and is widely available, too

Go for… 2.0 or 2.2 HDi

Avoid… 1.8 or 3.0 V6 petrol

Peugeot 406 Estate
  • 1. The load bay has masses of space, and the rear seat splits and folds for added versatility
  • 2. Pay particular attention to the central locking (sometimes the boot won't lock) and the indicator stalks
  • 3. Plenty of cars suffer coolant leaks and blocked radiators
  • 4. Air-con systems can play up, particularly if left switched off over the winter
  • 5. Brake discs can warp, and replacements are expensive
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Peugeot 406 Estate full review with expert trade views

In the mid-1990s, the 406 estate was reckoned to give near-executive car levels of refinement. Other family estates have since caught up but, for the money, it remains an impressively comfortable long-haul motorway-mile cruncher.

While it won't reward you like a Mondeo on a back road, it's unruffled over bad surfaces and gives a very composed drive. The four-cylinder petrol engines are pretty gutless, but the diesels are smooth, strong and relaxed. The gearboxes are slick, too.

Inside, it has all the necessities, but the dashboard has a tired, 1990s look to it. Still, it's clear and simple to use and front passengers have enough room to get comfortable.

It's not as roomy in the back as some rivals, but the load bay has masses of space and the rear seat splits and folds for added versatility.

Check you're happy with the driver's seat before you commit. Some find it too unsupportive.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Comfy to drive but weak brakes and sloppy handling. Get an HDI diesel

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

A diesel - it has to be. And preferably the revised model that arrived in March 1999. The changes were largely cosmetic, but it also brought more kit and the better HDi diesel engines.

The diesels will set you back more than the petrols to buy, but they're worth it. They bring willing, low-down pull and smooth cruising mixed with excellent fuel economy. Our choice would be the 110bhp 2.0 HDi, but the 2.2-litre unit is excellent, too.

The four-cylinder petrols (1.8-, 2.0- and 2.2-litres) all sound strained, and even the 2.0-litre has to work hard to give decent pull in everyday driving.

The 3.0-litre V6 is a smooth, quick motor, but the running costs make it unsuitable for most people

LX trim is the most widely available model and it's good enough for us. GLX brings more creature comforts and Executive ramps it up to leather-trimmed bells and whistles. Cars badged 'Family' are seven-seaters, with a useful pair of occasional seats in the boot.

Trade view

John Owen

Good-value versatile large estate car. High-mileage cars still drive exceptionally well

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

A 406 estate should be financially painless to buy and own.

The cost of servicing is very reasonable, although maintaining the 3.0 V6 model will set you back a bit more than the rest of the range. Overall, you're looking at the same kind of money - maybe a little less - as a Ford Mondeo or Nissan Primera. Compared to servicing a Citroen C5, you'll be quids in.

If unexpected repairs crop up, Peugeots are cheap to fix, according to Warranty Direct's data. They're also low on the company's list of frequent offenders, too.

Diesels are dead cheap to run. The 2.0 HDi models get nearly 50 miles from a gallon on the official average, the 2.2 HDi 43.5mpg. That plummets to 25mpg for the 3.0 V6 petrol, with the other petrols giving 33-35mpg. Insurance spans group 11 (1.8 petrol and 2.0 HDi 90bhp) to a pricey group 16 for the 3.0 V6.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Comfy to drive but weak brakes and sloppy handling. Get an HDI diesel

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

The electrics are the most common cause of complaint. Pay particular attention to the central locking (sometimes the boot won't lock) and the indicator stalks, which are known to be dodgy.

Check all the toys (air-con, electric windows and mirrors, sat-nav, audio system etc). Later cars tend to be better, but take nothing for granted until you've seen it working.

Transmissions give cause for complaint, too, while the brakes can be iffy and not always that cheap to sort. Watch out for knackered suspension, especially at the rear if the car has been used for heavy load-lugging.

The engines tend to be robust if serviced on time - and a full service history is more important on the turbodiesels. Keep an eye out for ex-taxis that have had the odometer wound back. Be suspicious if there are gaps in the service records, excessive wear in the cabin or heavy stone-chipping.

Trade view

John Owen

Good-value versatile large estate car. High-mileage cars still drive exceptionally well

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford
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