Earlier in the day we had a close look at a bit of the Peugeot 605. What was missing?
The short answer: Peugeot’s design and production dodged the ugly groove that normally indicates a weld, right under the lamp. This means that a not inconsiderable amount of work had to be done to match the weld seam to the metal on either side of it. Audi avoided this by bringing the bootlid right down to the bumper. Mercedes didn’t. No doubt Peugeot and Pininfarina’s teams glowed with pride at this and other features of the car when it appeared in 1989 (alongside Bertone’s work for Citroen, the XM). Look at the modern sill, clad in plastic. The car represents sobreity incarnate.
You can read a lot of received wisdom about the 605 at Wikipedia. Their bias police haven’t got around to weeding out the unchallenged assertions that the car looks like an Alfa Romeo. Here’s one:
It depends if you are a lumper or a splitter. While we haven’t finished raving about the 164, one can easily say the 164 shows a bolder, simple form. The 605 seems to have been finessed and, note, has a very different DLO: no Hofmeister kink for Peugeot and the boot looks longer, lower and has enough of a downward slope to suggest a more conservative style.
The 605 must be called an altogether more subtle bit of work than the 164 and that’s quite alright, Lady Jane, because Peugeots never needed to shout about things. For making a bit of a statement PSA had Citroen. The XM, by Bertone, possesses an unmistakable air of 1989. The 605’s quietness never goes of out of style other than, as we like to maintain here, when aggressive and fussy style becomes the norm.
The 605 screams subtlety, if it does anything. Regular readers here will be familiar with the 605’s main claim for formal innovation: the feature lines on the bodyside accommodates the flair of the body-work around the wheel-arch cut outs. And this the 605 has delightfully tidy and smooth flanks. There’s none of this:
If only Peugeot had kept the same level of visual refinement for the 1995 406 it would have had the apparent quality to match the actual quality. The sculpting and detail resolution of the later car not only lacks the refinements of the 1989 but it also has small, extra crude features too. The bumper-to-body relation springs to mind. The 605 did not have to hide the panel gap from the bumpers to the body as the 406 did. For cars of that period, a plainly visible horizontal line from the wheel arch forwards made total sense aesthetically and functionally. I mean this:
We find the 605 belongs to the period when the three-box saloon reached its apotheosis. The three volumes can still be perceived along with the delightfully resolved transitions from bonnet to windscreen and to roof and back. After that the lines blend into one another which then pushes the work of distinguishing the car onto the flanks…
We’ve been discussing elegance here recently and a good case can be made for the unloved 605 as an example of straightforward elegance. It has refinement, flow, pleasing proportions and does not try to be imposing or aggressive.
Incidentally, here we find a car that doesn’t ask for more brightwork.