18 August 1995

405 IS A TOUGH ACT TO FOLLOW

LIKE its compatriots Renault and Citroën, Peugeot was once a maker of quirky-looking cars with marvellous suspensions. By the time the 405 came out in 1987, the quirkiness had all but gone, though the superior suspensions remained.

The 405 estate was never exactly curvaceous, but those sensible, well-proportioned looks unveiled eight years ago havent aged at all. Like Cliff Richard (or even Mick Jagger), the Peugeots profile has defied time effectively.

Inside, the redesign of three years ago has left a curvy well-made dash, hardish seats and a well-sorted set of dials and gauges. The outside temperature display and steering-wheel-mounted radio volume/channel stalk are useful gadgets, but the walnut-effect strip along the dashboard – tacky!

Though markedly shorter than the Volvo estates of this world, the 405 is still a roomy carrier. There are 60/40 split rear seats and a chunky sliding rear load carrier that doubles as a huge parcel shelf. Bags of extra interior lights help you scrabble for lost tools/sandwiches/toys at night.

But its the engine thats the choicest ingredient in this Gallic dish.

A 1.9-litre turbo, its a flexible and surprisingly pokey performer. While the naturally-aspirated 405 diesel has difficulty overtaking anything more speedy than an 80-year-old in a bathchair, the turbo version is wholly different.

At £16,065 (including air-conditioning) the 405GTX is also good value for money. The 405s replacement, due in the UK next year, will have a hard act to follow.