Tod Evans, Peugeot's UK managing director, said the delay was because the company “was obsessive” about getting the quality right after reports in France of poor handling and lessons learned from the 605.
Mr Evans said the 607 was critical in lifting the prestige of the Peugeot brand. Volume carmakers needed a large executive car in their range and criticised Ford for dropping Scorpio.
“If you do not have a large prestige car in your portfolio, your image begins to suffer,” he said. “Your brand is not seen as being as prestigious or desirable as it should be. “Even Volkswagen believes it is important to have a car in the larger segment to be credible. Fiat is talking to GM about using its platform for a large car. The only one that's out of step is Ford.”
Mr Evans said “cascading” the Jaguar and Volvo brands down would ultimately damage the future of Ford itself. “If you want to be credible, you cannot be absent from the large executive market,” he said. “The 607 makes a brand statement about the rest of our cars.”
Peugeot hopes to sell around 5,000 607s a year in the UK and has already identified a core of potential customers though a six-month direct marketing campaign. Mr Evans said they were people, often small business users, who were “ready to purchase”. The company was also targeting fleets.
“The acid test for a fleet buyer is whether they feel good about saying they have a 607,” said Mr Evans. “The buyer of a Scorpio or an Omega does not feel proud of it. I believe fleet customers do feel proud about Peugeot.”
The 607 will be equipped with a host of technology which Mr Evans described as “toys for the boys”. Customers will be able to choose cars with more specification at equivalent prices to prestige models.