Hindsight is a wonderful thing. You have to wonder if Peugeot looks back at its ill-fated decision to facelift the Peugeot 406 Coupe with regret. I mean, how do you improve on perfection?
Thankfully, the facelifted 406 Coupe never made it to these shores, but it serves as a reminder that some things should be left to grow old gracefully.
It’s a little like Leonardo da Vinci returning to the Mona Lisa a few years later, pondering for a while, then adding the mouth of Wendolene Ramsbottom.
That would certainly wipe the smile off Lisa’s face.
It was a dark period for Peugeot. When the 406 Coupe arrived in 1997, it was sharing showroom space with the likes of the 106 GTi, 306 Cabriolet, 306 GTi-6, 406 and 605.
In 2003, when Peugeot decided to take a scalpel to the 406 Coupe’s pretty face, the 306 had been replaced by the 307, the 406 was about to be ditched for the 407, and the 106 was running out of time.
Dark days. It would be a while before Peugeot rediscovered its mojo.
In fairness, Peugeot isn’t alone on the naughty step of terrible French facelifts. The phase 2 Citroën Xsara was a step in the wrong direction, Renault shouldn’t have messed with the Mk1 Clio, Citroën ruined the C4 Cactus, and I could make a case for the refreshed Saxo being a naff decision.
But the Peugeot 406 Coupe must rank as one of the worst facelifts of all time. It’s not just the fact that it’s so misguided, it’s also plain lazy. The homage to the 407 grille is such a token effort – why bother? One more year and it would have escaped the surgeon’s knife.
There is one shining light. In searching for the images on the Peugeot press site, I stumbled across some photos of the glorious chestnut leather interior. It’s the trim I’d like for my 406 Coupe, although it’s a little too close to the colour of David Dickinson’s face for my liking.
Name a more decisive step in the wrong direction. I’ll wait. pic.twitter.com/oqIRhIlTvP
— Jake Belder (@jakebeldercars) April 5, 2020