I'm sure this lens was coated from day one. Coating has been standard on even the "non-premium" lines of OEM lenses since the 1970's or earlier. Although I suppose coating might improve to some incremental degree. Probably nothing else has changed about the 400 f/5.6 since it's inception other than possibly the sourcing of small components, as you suggest.
IS would be nice, but I don't find I miss it much in my use, which usually includes a monopod. I actually wish it was a bit heavier or fatter, as that might make it settle in your hands more steadily for hand-holding. But overall, no complaints.
It's not likely, but I wish Canon would upgrade this lens with IS and maybe take it to f/4.5 or so to give it just a bit more speed and heft. An f/4.0 lens would obviously command a price tag much higher than the current 5.6. What could we get with IS for, say, $2000.00 to $2400.00? f/4.5? 5.0?
Come on, Canon. Make me an offer.
Back in the day, Olympus had a few "big white" lenses in odd focal lengths and fast apertures. 250mm f/2.0, 350mm f/2.8 and maybe a 450mm f/2.8 (not sure, it's been a long time).
I'd go for a 350mm f/4.0 with IS. (Compared to the 400mm f/5.6, I'd gladly trade 50mm and some money for a full f/stop.) Or a 250mm f/2.8, which would be 350mm f/4.0 with a 1.4x. Or, I've long wished they would extend the 70mm-200mm 2.8 to 250mm. But that's just me dreaming. CR ZERO.
Anybody with me, or am I just weird?