This Peugeot concept would have been the perfect French car
The 2003 Elixir concept was a preview for the new 407 from Peugeot
This doesn’t look like any 407 I’ve ever seen…
And isn’t that a shame. This is the Peugeot 407 Elixir concept, revealed at the Frankfurt motor show in September 2003. Gasp, was Peugeot really trying to upstage the German manufacturers in their own back garden? You bet it was. This concept car was a preview for the production 407, due in April 2004. The car that would take the fight to the likes of Audi and BMW, sealing Peugeot’s place at the mid-level executive’s company car table. Stop sniggering at the back there.Advertisement - Page continues below
Is there a bit missing?
The Elixir does look rather short now we’ve got the context of the production car to consider. The 407 proper fell elegantly away to a traditional saloon finish, or continued on towards a usefully spacious traditional estate finish. There wasn’t too much in the way of novelty when it came to body styles, despite the sexy promise of the sculpted back end of the Elixir concept.
Was this the dawn of the massive grille era?
In many ways the whole blight of the gigantic car face can be traced back to the bloated excesses of the Peugeot 407. Sure, Audi was causing controversies with its enlarged air intakes, but the 407 took the biscuit and left a massive hole in it. What with the car’s lengthy front overhang, the 407’s sinister grin would appear round a corner several minutes before you realised a car was attached at the back of it.Advertisement - Page continues below
What was the Elixir like inside?
The inside of the Elixir was tremendously airy, thanks to the IMAX panoramic roof and a white interior set-up that looks like it would have been irrevocably ruined if you’d even so much as waved a child in its direction. No, this car was a glass of red wine for the adults, something for the sophisticated palate. It featured a 7.0-inch display screen for the satellite navigation (some people still used actual maps in 2003, you know) and brushed aluminium inserts all over the place. Substitute the stitched leather for cheap textured grey plastics, though, and the Elixir was a fairly straight preview of the upcoming production 407.
What was under the bonnet?
The Elixir concept featured a rather racy (for the time) 2.7-litre V6 diesel engine pumping out 198bhp along with all of those pesky particulates. Although those hadn’t really been invented in 2003, everything was fine. That prodigious power (for the time) was sent to the front wheels via a sequential automatic gearbox. While the Elixir was clearly no sports car, it looks like it would have made for a delightful touring coupe-type thing.
There was a 407 Coupe, wasn’t there?
There was indeed a two-door coupe version of the 407 on sale from 2006 to 2011. The sort of attractively designed halo model in a range that carmakers desperately hope will rub off on the rest of the cars. Come for the coupe, sign up for regular PCP payments on a sensible diesel estate model, that sort of thing.
How come it didn’t look like the Elixir?
The 407 Coupe very much aped the design of its forebear, the 406 Coupe, which was designed for the French carmaker by the Italian design powerhouse Pininfarina to rapturous delight among several enthusiasts. It’s still seen as an understated classic, so you can understand why Peugeot wanted to sustain some of that success, retaining much of the same shape, stance and proportions while grafting on the gopping front end of the standard car. The 407 Coupe was less of a success.Advertisement - Page continues below
Whatever happened to the 407?
As anyone with a keen appreciation of automotive history will know, French saloons are rarely a success outside of the French civil service. No one seems to want them – the Germans cornered the market on reliability and the Italians serve up their car-based dishes with an extra helping of flair. Malheureusement (that’s 'unfortunately' in French), Gallic carmakers only seemed to manage to carve out a niche based on dodgy electrics. So it was that when the shutters were finally brought down on the 407 in 2011, the model range was merged with that of the larger 607 and the 508 was created. Come the second generation of the car in 2008, Peugeot finally got some of the style acclaim it was due.