Peugeot plans to use its new 406 coupe to raise the company's image among buyers.
The strategy is to achieve status close to that of specialist carmakers, with the eventual aim of 'moving into Audi territory,' said product planning executive Christian Priser.
Priser is responsible for Peugeot's medium and large cars. He said customer perception of the Peugeot brand quality lags well behind the actual quality of current models.
'Peugeot tends to have a good image in countries such as the UK and France where awareness of the brand is good,' said Priser. 'But where awareness is lower, perception is poorer.'
Priser said Peugeot's market penetration and image in Germany are both low.
In France and the UK, Peugeot shoppers expect no-nonsense qualities like driving dynamics and comfort.
Customers also believe that Peugeot is good at matching engines with chassis, said Priser.
'What we want to add is another dimension of quality - investment value,' he said. 'We need to reinforce the perception of reliability and durability. Our cars score well, but this is not sufficiently recognized.'
Priser said Peugeot lost its reputation for high quality at the end of the 1980s.
'We developed good dynamic values but did not pay as much attention to investment values,' he said.
PSA has mapped out a brand strategy which positions Peugeot as a more Germanic type of Latin brand, while Citroen adopts a more Latin image.
With the 406 coupe, Priser said, Peugeot is trying to build brand awareness and communicate synergies with other model lines.