PEUGEOT 405 MI16 X 4

Peugeot 405 Mi16 x 4

While Citroen has come up with the BX GTi 4x4, the other arm of the French conglomerate, Peugeot, has produced a four-wheel-drive version of the versatile 405 Mi16.

Unlike the Citroen system, which has a permanent front/rear torque split of 53/47 that on the Peugeot is variable, Peugeot's new model benefitting from the lessons learnt from the company's Group B rallying days.

The familiar in-line, 16-valve twin cam 1905cc engine produces 160 bhp at 6500 rpm and is as sweet as ever. The extra weight has reduced the acceleration time so that 0-60 mph now takes 9 seconds, but the top speed of 133 mph is imressive. While it may not be nippy, it makes up for

it in the handling. It is in its element along winding country roads. Pushed through the ess bends at speed the car almost sneers with disdain. No body roll, not a hint of over or understeer and the steering precise, the car laps up the mileage.

If there is a problem it is the noise. Below 4000 rpm and there is no hint of trouble, but nor is there a trace of anything special about the engine. It has to be wound right up to make it work well, and although one is rewarded with the performance it is to the detriment of the sound level.

A deeply disappointing aspect of the car was the poor gearchange. It was baulky and sometimes sullen, which is in complete contrast to the two-wheel-drive Mi16 we drove last year. Perhaps we just had a rogue box.

The interior is average, the seats comfortable and the boot shallow, but these are almost secondary issues in what is a driver's car. Despite the high price of £17,995, £1300 more than the Mi16, this has to be the best mass produced four-wheel-drive sports saloon currently on the market. WPK