FWD Champions: The Peugeot 405 Mi16
I really wish I’d driven this one. I guess I still can, assuming I can find one of the astronomically small number imported to the US from its native France during the car’s brief ’89-’91 model run here. My chances are decreased even further by the car’s appalling build quality, even when new. I had a subscription to Popular Science in ’91, and remember reading a four-way comparo that included the Peugeot, in which the magazine remarked:
The one mark against the interior was a set of squeaks and rattles that came free with the car at only 3,500 miles on the odometer.
So the 405 Mi16 is poorly-made, incredibly hard to find, FWD and French. Is there anything to like about this car?
Frankly, yes. From the same article:
The Mi16 is a lot of fun to push around, simply because it doesn’t misbehave.
And the Orlando Sentinel adds:
The car’s road manners are like those of BMW. The suspension is firm in a sporty way. There’s very little body roll, and if the 405 has a tendency to oversteer or understeer, I couldn’t detect it.
If there’s anything cars could use more of on this continent, it’s the Europeans’ proficiency in tuning their cars’ suspensions to be “firm in a sporty way.” That, and a dollop of the personality our neighbors from the other side of the pond are so adept an infusing into even their small cars. After all, it’s the continent that gave us the original VW Beetle and Golf GTI, the Mini and the BMW 2002. Who knows; perhaps some of the passion Pininfarina demonstrated when they penned the clean, taut lines trickled into the 405 Mi16’s road manners, or it could just be the combination of independent rear suspension, 5-speed manual, a 2,800 lb curb weight and an all-aluminum 1.9l, 160 hp 4-cyl. Whatever the case, I’d love experience one and add my own accolades to the pile.
Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting FWD cars I think highly of, in spite of my overwhelming RWD bias. Read the other installments here:
- Peugeot 205 GTI
- B4 Volkswagen Passat
- Lancia Fulvia Coupe
- Acura Vigor
- Mazda Millenia
- Citroën SM
- Fiat Coupé
- ’91-’96 Infiniti G20
- ’91-’94 B13 Nissan Sentra SE-R
- ’88-’92 Mazda MX-6
- Audi Coupe GT
- Volkswagen Corrado
- ’78-’93 Saab 900
- Volvo 850 T-5R
- 5th-generation Honda Prelude
- 1st- and 2nd-generation Volkswagen Scirocco