Used Peugeot 406 long-term review

Our Peugeot 406 meets a successor 20 years its junior, and shows quite how much our car buying tastes have changed

Words By Alex Robbins

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  • The car Peugeot 406 1.8 LX
  • Run by Used cars team
  • Why it’s here To find out whether bangernomics – the art of buying a banger to use every day – really does work
  • Needs to Prove the benefits – or pitfalls – of buying a used car for a bargain-basement price

Price when new Β£14,440 Price on arrival Β£450 Approx value now Β£500 Mileage on arrival 67,128 Mileage now 68,342 Test fuel economy na Official fuel economy 32.5mpg

15 February 2018 – third report

In the introduction to our 406 back in November last year, we made reference to the fact that the way car buyers are buying their cars has changed. But that’s not all; the types of car they’re buying has changed, too.

Of course, manufacturers have responded to this, and the recent delivery of a Peugeot 5008 to What Car?’s road testers threw that great change in the nation’s automotive tastes into sharp contrast.

The 5008 represents a typical large family car of today; the sort of thing buyers would choose to ferry around two children, tackle longer journeys on days out, and undertake the airport slog (or perhaps venture even further afield) for the annual family holiday.

As it happens, our Peugeot 406 is a car from the same manufacturer which fit exactly the same bill 20 years ago. And as you can see in the pictures, there’s quite a considerable difference between the two.

Comparing them side-by-side throws into sharp contrast our shift to SUVs, illustrating what we’ve gained – and what we’ve lost.

In the former camp, quite clearly, there’s a whole heap more space. The 5008 even comes with an extra row of seats in the back, meaning you can cart around your beloved offspring’s friends as and when you need to.

The 5008’s interior is undoubtedly more stylish and better built, too, although on the latter count, the difference isn’t quite as great as you might think; the 406 had a high-quality interior in its time.

Less visible are the technology and safety enhancements; the 406 was a three-star car under the considerably less stringent Euro NCAP tests of 2001, whereas the 5008 scored five stars under the most up-to-date testing regime. Or, to put it another way, a crash that might leave you or your passengers seriously injured in the older Peugeot would be one you could probably walk away from in the newer car.

But a quick spin in the 406 also reveals how much more pleasing it is to drive, its cosseting ride achieved without compromising the way its front end snicks cleanly into corners, or the amount of feel its steering delivers. True, the 5008’s controls are lighter, but the 406’s better visibility, thanks to its slimmer metalwork between the windows, and greater feedback mean it’s actually the easier of the two cars to drive at slower speeds.

To my eyes, the 406 is the more attractive of the two cars, too, its elegant styling and dart-like nose looking neat and crisp next to any big, boxy modern SUV.

It’d be easy, then, to simply say 'they don’t make β€˜em like they used to', and have done with it. Too easy, in fact. As fond as I’ve become of the 406, and as much as I enjoy driving it, it’s hard to recommend as a form of family transport today unless cash is so tight that it’s your only option. Newer, bigger, better-equipped and safer, the 5008’s the one I’d want to cart my family around in on a daily basis. It’s a choice I’d be making with my head, but it’s the right one.

Of course, if it was just me needing a set of wheels to commute to work and back on my own in, it’d be a tougher decision...

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