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a century of Peugeot saloons

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Updated:04/09/2020 01: 52h


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For much of its history, Peugeot was a brand recognized for its sedans. Starting with Type 156 in 1920 and continuing with the different models in its “4” and “5” series, these models built the reputation of the León firm in terms of comfort, reliability and behavior on the road.

But the story of the lion mark does not begin with car manufacturing but a long time ago. From laminated items or radial blades to the first ‘Grand-Bi’ (mythical bicycle with a huge wheel in front and a small one behind), through various tools, grinders or sewing machines. From 1810 to the present day Peugeot contributed and continues to contribute modernity and innovation without, therefore, renouncing the original industrial rigor born from the work of steel. They are more than two centuries of history that the faithful followers of the brand can verify by visiting the Peugeot Adventure Museum, located in the French town of Sochaux, which brings together 6,000 square meters of unique pieces of industrial development.

From 1810 until Type 1 was introduced (considered the forerunner of Peugeot cars), at the Universal Exhibition in Paris, the manufacturer did not stop applying its industrial know-how to different projects. The car brand called Peugeot dates back to the beginning of the 19th century when Jean-Jacques Peugeot settled near Doubs.

In the main European markets, Peugeot has become a key brand in the main segments, the result of pioneering models that established their presence in the different categories. So, ehe Peugeot 205 started in the 80s, the Brand’s journey in the category of compact urban vehicles, while, in the last five years, the Peugeot 2008, 3008 and 5008 have redefined the characteristics that a successful SUV must have.

For much of the 20th century, Peugeot was a specialist manufacturer of a very specific type of car: saloons. Thanks to them, he built his reputation as a reliable, elegant and comfortable brand, with robust vehicles that offer high-level driving pleasure and adapt to the most demanding terrain.

One hundred years ago the brand of the lion launched its first car after the First World War, the Type 156 (1920-23). In addition to equipping an innovative motor with a shirt valve and reaching 90 km / h, it was marketed in 4 and 6-seater versions. An elegant vehicle that also represented the brand’s first foray into the Elysee Palace, since the President of the French Republic, Alexandre Millerand, chose it as the official car, opening a saga that continues to this day with the Peugeot 5008. This model, in addition, was the tourism in which Peugeot began its tests with diesel engines. Its successor, the Type 174 (1923-28) also found an illustrious clientele, becoming the favorite vehicle of the great actors and singers of the moment.

The Peugeot “4” series took its first steps with the ephemeral 401, which was produced between 1934 and 1935 but left an important technical legacy, with two independent front wheels that improved road behavior and the Eclipse version, the first convertible with a retractable metal roof. Its successor, the 402 (1935-41), would mark a time for its aesthetics, which took into account a novel concept for the time: aerodynamics, which sought to reduce fuel consumption and achieve maximum performance. Its rounded profile, its curved and fluid lines frame it in the Streamline Moderne trend. In the aesthetic section, its headlights behind the grille gave it an unmistakable appearance. Available in 8 body configurations, it offered the possibility of a 3-speed automatic transmission, then reserved for the most luxurious cars. As for fuels, it could be purchased with a diesel engine and, during the shortage periods of the WWII and post-war, it could be adapted to run on gas.

Following the conflict, the car market focused on commercial vehicles and small or mid-range passenger cars, such as the Peugeot 203. It took 10 years for the brand’s return to this segment with the Peugeot 403 (1955-66), which featured a family version and was Detective Colombo’s car, however, at a time when the car’s design was in full swing. Effervescence, its pontoon-like bodywork was a bit outdated compared to the newer alternatives of the competition.

In record time, the Brand developed a completely new model, with an aesthetic in line with the latest trends of the moment and incorporating important technological innovations: the Peugeot 404, which would end up being one of its longest-running models. It was one of the first series cars in offering gasoline injection engines, an innovation that offered more benefits and lower consumption. In addition, it also had a diesel version when very few brands offered that possibility. The success of 404 crossed borders and oceans. It was manufactured in countries as diverse as France, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Australia, Madagascar or Kenya. It was the model that cemented the brand’s prestige in Africa, where they are still used as taxis in some cities in Ethiopia for their robustness and reliability.

At the end of the 60s, the brand started a particular “montée en gamme” with the opening of its “5 series”: 504 arrived. This model broke molds at its presentation in 1968 due to its peculiar aesthetics, signed by Pininfarina, which would end up leaving its mark on all subsequent models of the Brand. Its trapezoidal headlights, inspired by the eyes of Sofía Loren, and the shape of its hood caused a sensation and ended up prevailing in the market, as evidenced by its almost four decades of commercial life. Its exceptional road behavior cemented the brand’s reputation as a guarantee of comfort and driving pleasure, associated with high-performance engines and a precise, smooth and easy-to-use gearbox. Features that have “inherited” all the brand’s models since then and that earned it the “Car of the Year in Europe” in 1969.

He Peugeot 505 made history for being the last great saloon of the Brand that resorted to the rear propulsion and for its road behavior and solidity on the most difficult terrain. A true predecessor to the New Peugeot 508 … and the brand’s current SUV range. With a bold and dynamic exterior, signed by Pininfarina, and an elegant interior designed by Paul Bracq, known for his work on models of Mercedes and BMW between the 50s and 70s, the Peugeot 505 was marketed between 1979 and 1997. In these almost two decades, it exceeded 1,300,000 vehicles produced, achieving commercial success in markets as difficult as the United States.

Its successor, the Peugeot 405, with aesthetic features inspired by another myth of the Brand, the 205, put the emphasis on driving pleasure and comfort, with tight suspensions even in basic finishes. It incorporated new features, such as ABS brakes or a 90 hp 1.9 turbo diesel engine. It also featured an all-wheel drive version equipped with a hydro-pneumatic suspension. In sports, he won the Dakar Rally in 1989 and 1990, in addition to winning the climb to Pikes Peak in 1988 and 1989.

Peugeot saloons entered the 21st century aboard the 406, which starred in the “Taxi” saga, 3 films directed by Luc Besson where he showed his performance and endurance on the streets of Marseille. In the fourth installment, he would hand over the baton to his successor in the range: the Peugeot 407.

In 2011, the Brand took a step forward with the first generation of the 508 model, which stood out both for its high ride comfort, which allowed it to devour kilometers with total comfort, also enjoying high-level road behavior.

Features that would reach their maximum with the new 508, launched in 2018, with sharp lines that bring you closer to sports cars and coupes. Its low and compact architecture ensures low consumption and aerodynamics of reference in its segment. A guarantee of intense sensations, reinforced by exemplary road behavior and a new range of latest-generation engines, including a plug-in hybrid version that develops 225 hp with a consumption of 1.3 l / 100 km.

It offers a whole arsenal of state-of-the-art driving assistance functions. Incorporates, among others a night vision systemTotally new in the segment, the Lane Position Assist (LPA), which maintains the vehicle’s position on the road and the latest automatic emergency brake and collision risk alert.


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