Peugeot. Today known for its expertise in making excellent small hatchbacks, this French behemoth was once renowned for its best-selling large sedans and estates which were both durable and elegant. The 504, 505, 405, and 406 created this legacy and made large cars a cornerstone of Peugeot’s product line.
But then the 407 was released, and it became a poster child for everything wrong with Peugeot’s malaise era.
Shoddy quality, poor engineering, and ugly design were all hallmarks of this uncharacteristic misstep.
Sales dropped, and the petite 206 lunged forwards as fuel prices soared. Large car sales were dwindling beforehand, and now with such a mediocre product there was little reason to spend the premium associated with a large car lifestyle.
The 407 berline was rather poor in many respects. Not only did it have the quality drawbacks that afflicted all early-2000's Pugs, it also had that gawping maw and a stubby tail that made it simultaneously ugly and boring.
The estate, on the other hand, redeemed itself somewhat with the striking lines of the 407 Elixir Concept defining its rear end and side profile. It didn’t make the car any better physically, but it certainly looked a bit more enticing.
With the next generation, renamed the 508 to slot between the family 400 range and the executive 600 range, Peugeot sought to return to form.
Bold, chunky Volvo-esque lines made an appearance, and the line-up was revised to handle better, be built better, and just BE better.
Unfortunately, though, it wasn’t good enough. Trying to make it semi-executive meant that it had to go against the almighty 3-series, and as a family car it still had to face the vaunted Mondeo.
Add that to the fact that the family car segment had dried up almost entirely in favor of SUV’s and MPV’s and the 508 saw little success.
The estate, for its part, is incredibly good looking IMO, and apparently Majorette agreed as they decided to replicate it alongside Norev’s premium offering.
Peugeot, for its part, saw it fit to refresh the 508 and released the facelifted version to be in line with the rest of the new Lion’s claw design style.
For the record, I’m incredibly happy to have these six esoteric Frenchies in my collection. The 508's look amazing, and the 407 is definitely a curiosity as it holds the title of Peugeot’s worst big car.
The estate was a bear to find so I was incredibly happy when this one showed up on eBay a few weeks ago! Anyways, that’s all from me today, have a great weekend and Vive la France! Thanks for looking, and see you around LaLD!