Beautiful car in special edition three-tone blue, which looks grey in rainy weather and almost green in the sun. The first thing people remarked on was the stunning colour, which made the car look halfway between a sports saloon and an executive motor.
The late model 406 looks like it cost twice what I paid for it, and it's a lot prettier than most other saloons of its era (and those that came afterwards, when they all started to resemble the blocky, unattractive new Vectra of the mid-2000s).
Build quality was a big step-up from the mark 1. Everything felt solid and well put together, with none of the rattles or squeaks familiar from the days I used to own the mark 1 models.
Handling is not quite as good as the mark 1; there is more body roll and less steering feedback, due to the car's noticeably greater weight, so it was less entertaining to drive; unusual for a 406, which has always been one of the more engaging cars in its class. For sheer pleasure, the mark 1 two-litre turbo is a better proposition, although the old turbo model loses out in overall quality and equipment when compared directly to the 2.2 (its replacement).
Acceleration is brisk and satisfying with decent pull right to the redline; in a straight line it feels quicker and more aggressive than the old 2.0 turbo. The 406, if well-driven, can be a match for sportier motors in a straight line.
The engine responds very well to tuning. A Collins Powerchip, a full stainless exhaust and an induction kit transformed the car into a raging maniac, with torque spilling over in all gears, and the ability to accelerate right into the redline. After modification, the car simply launched itself at high revs, with each thousand extra revs bringing a new surge of power, even at 5000rpm and higher.
The sound system is a bit crap, but the size and shape of the 406 saloon offers plenty of room for improvement. A halfway decent sound system is amazing. The amount of soundproofing in the bodywork also prevents irritating boom-boom-booming as you drive past housing estates.
The whole car is an impressive package. I even managed 30+mpg after the car was tuned to 180-190bhp, although this plummets with aggressive driving.
Overall I had few problems with this car, it was just the same one issue again and again. I cannot really see the appeal of a Ford, Vauxhall or Audi over the Peugeot 406, and only the BMW's vaunted rear-wheel drive and sporty driving appeal would make me consider a 3-series over a 406. In the end, I'd probably still go for the 406, as it's a good, solid car.
The motoring press constantly criticised Peugeot for not updating the 406 or replacing it two minutes after its launch; however the 406 continued to sell in massive numbers despite remaining basically the same car throughout its product life. Millions of motorists cannot all be wrong. This is the 406's enduring testament.
It's an unsung hero of the saloon car world.