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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For The 406 has a beautifully smooth ride and a well equipped cabin. It's cheap and the diesel engines are good

Against There are some reliability worries, no hatchback version and it's heavy, so smaller engines struggle

Verdict It's a big, cheap, smooth-riding cruiser, but newer rivals are better in many respects

Go for… 2.0 HDi 110 LX

Avoid… 3.0 V6 Executive

Peugeot 406 Saloon
  • 1. Plenty of cars suffer coolant leaks and blocked radiators
  • 2. Air-con systems can play up, particularly if left switched off over the winter
  • 3. There are many reports of indicator stalk failure on post-2001 models
  • 4. There's plenty of room up front, but taller passengers may find the rear a bit cramped
  • 5. Brake discs can warp, and replacements are expensive
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Peugeot 406 Saloon full review with expert trade views

The 406 is a big cruiser with a pillow-soft ride, and it combines supple springing with neat handling and steering that gives good feedback to the driver. It's very refined, too, and keeps out most road noise even at speed, although the engines do get a bit vocal when they're worked hard. The later 2.0 HDi diesel is quieter than the older 1.9 turbo.

There are no great complaints about the driving position, with steering that adjusts for rake but not reach, and a driver’s seat that adjusts for height. The dash is well laid out and attractive, too.

There's plenty of room up front, too, while the rear has good space with a full three-point belt for each passenger - only lanky types may find the rear a bit cramped. Last, but not least, the good sized boot can be extended by dropping the rear seats, and loading is reasonably easy.

The 406 gained only two stars for occupant safety when first tested by Euro NCAP, but this improved to three when Peugeot submitted a revised model in 2001.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Late models still sell though they need 2.0 HDI engine ideally

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Peugeot’s diesels rate among the best and suit the 406 well. You can choose from a 1.9 turbo giving 90 or 110bhp, a 2.0 HDi that took its place, or a 2.2 HDi with 138bhp, sold from 2001. The 2.0 HDi is the one to have.

Otherwise, the petrol engines run from a 1.8 to a 2.0, plus a 2.0 turbo, with a 3.0 V6 at the top end. The 1.8 puffs a bit to pull this heavy car, but the 2.0 or 2.0 turbo are fine, while the 3.0 V6 makes the 406 purr along, but running costs will hit hard.

Trim runs from L to LX, GLX and Executive. All are well equipped, most have air-con and the Executive gets leather seats. A face-lift in mid-1999 improved equipment across the board, so go for a later car, with the 2.0 HDi 110bhp and LX trim the ideal combination.

Buy from an independent used car dealer for best value.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Good reliability - low failure rates and repair costs. Watch the cooling system

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

Repair costs are a bit of a worry. Suspension, brakes, cooling systems and electrics are all concerns as the car's mileage mounts. Fortunately, the 406s are pretty conventional, and most repairs are quick and moderately priced.

Servicing for S-reg cars and onwards moved to 20,000 miles/two-year intervals for petrols, which cuts costs, although we’d recommend you also budget for a yearly oil change and brake check. Diesels are on 12,000 miles/one-year service cycles. Insurance groups are fair: most models fall in 10-12, although 2.0 turbos are group 14 and the 3.0 V6 is a punishing group 18.

The diesels return 40mpg or better on a run, the 1.8 and 2.0 petrols achieve 30mpg, but the 3.0 will struggle to reach 30mpg.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Late models still sell though they need 2.0 HDI engine ideally

James Ruppert
Used car guru

As the 406 ages it’s maintaining a respectable reliability record. The What Car? Reliability Index rates the 406 as above average and says repairs could be expensive. Electrical faults top the list of problems, although suspension and fuel system problems also figured. Have a good look at the brake discs, as they have a tendency to warp and replacements are expensive. Also, check how recently the coolant has been changed - plenty of cars suffer coolant leaks and blocked radiators, although changing the fluid in the system every two years should prevent this. While you're about it, ask about the timing belts, because they need changing after five years or 60,000 miles. The ventilation system can also caused problems, with air-con systems failing if they’re not used regularly. Items such fuel pumps also start to fail, and the ABS components can require attention

There’s also a long list of official recalls – check with a main dealer to see if yours needs any work.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Good reliability - low failure rates and repair costs. Watch the cooling system

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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