You wouldn’t think much of a Peugeot 607 looking at it. You probably wouldn’t think much sitting in it, either. But right beside you would be one thing interesting: a Tiptronic transmission, developed by Porsche.
Just to make this abundantly clear: the Peugeot 607 was not a high-performance car. A full-size sedan from a non-luxury automaker, the 607 shared its platform with the Peugeot 605 that came before it, which in turn shared its platform with the decidedly comfort-oriented Citroën XM, as the car’s French Wikipedia page points out. The bones on the 607, then, stretch from its 1999 debut all the way back to 1989. When Peugeot stopped selling the 607 in 2010, its architecture was older than the unified Germany. The top engine, a 2.7-liter V6, made a startling 204 horsepower.
I guess I should also clarify that though this was a Porsche transmission, it wasn’t exactly high-performance itself. It was just a four-speed, as noted in this charmingly Google-translated brief from the French Stubs-Auto:
The engines of the 607 can be mated to a five-speed manual transmission or to a 4-speed self-adapting, sequential-type automatic transmission of the Porsche Tiptronic system. This electronically managed gearbox can automatically choose from 32 shift laws to better respond to the driver’s demands and his type of driving. The choice is made smoothly and in total comfort. However, the driver has the possibility of selecting gears manually thanks to the famous Porsche impulse control.
Again, this is not just a Porsche-style Tiptronic, as you’d assume today. This was Porsche tech, as The Independent reports:
Here was a Pug that was, technically speaking, several years ahead of the competition. Diesel versions had a filter that destroyed microscopic exhaust particles. Under heavy braking, the automatic illumination of the hazard warning lights alerted other drivers to danger. Finally, a nine-setting suspension system meant greater comfort and control. The petrol V6 also had a standard automatic Tiptronic gearbox made by Porsche.
The error there is that Porsche didn’t make its Tiptronic transmissions. ZF did. But it was still a Porsche transmission designed by Porsche, as Car and Driver explains in its history of Porsche’s automatics:
Following the demise of Sportomatic [in 1980], a small cadre of Porsche engineers sought to continue development of automated manual transmissions over the next decade. But those efforts were largely ignored in favor of Porsche’s early dual-clutch PDK program for racing and, well, the general lack of interest in Sportomatic. Enter the Tiptronic. When developing the 964 911, Porsche turned to ZF to supply a fully automatic transmission. But an average slushbox just wouldn’t do, and so Porsche cooked up a unique protocol for the transmission’s brain. Monitoring throttle position and movement, engine and road speed, ABS activation, and fuel-delivery sensors, the four-speed automatic “adapted” to a driver’s style by choosing among five available shift maps depending on the data it received.
Indeed, Tiptronic was a “collaboration with ZF” as Total911 recounts, also noting that Tiptronic went to five-speed in 1998 for the 996. That might explain why Porsche was willing to let a non-threatening automaker like Peugeot get its hands on some of the recently-obsolete four-speed stuff.
The 607 was in production from the end of 1999 into 2010, running through the entirety of the new millenium era for good and for bad. When Nikolas Sarkozy, recently convicted and jailed for corruption, made his way to his 2007 inauguration, a Peugeot 607 took him there. I somehow doubt that anyone involved kicked the Tiptronic lever over to the left and shifted for themselves.