1993 Peugeot 405 SRDT 1.9 turbo diesel from Australia and New Zealand

Summary:

Great cheap comfortable cruiser

Faults:

Loose engine mount, caused a knocking sound as the engine rocked. Just needed tightening.

Fuel pump failed at 210000km. Diesel technician said it was due to unusually high wear.

One rear electrical circuit driving the rear interior light, electric aerial and boot light wasn't working. Turned out to be a corroded joiner under the driver seat.

Fuel tank senders aren't very good, we tried two of them and due to the mechanical damping on them, they failed to go right to the bottom of the tank and stopped at about 1/8 of a tank. I ended up removing the damper and put up with a gauge which moves around quite a bit.

General Comments:

Overall I highly recommend the Peugeot 405 as a long distance cruiser.

The turbo-diesel engine gets great economy on a long trip, I have had as low as 5.8L/100km on the highway on normal pump diesel, but normal usage is around 6.5L/100km.

The car has sufficient power to get along nicely, for a 15 year old diesel is got a heap of power but this engine seems to deliver it very smoothly. The gearing of the car is best suited to cruising at about 130kmph, that is when its quietest and most responsive. At 100kmph, it just doesn't have quite enough revs to spool the turbo, so passing requires 4th gear if you want to pass in a hurry. The turbo picks up about 105kmph in 5th gear.

It is a very comfortable car, which makes it well suited to open road driving. Feels very solid on the road and inspires confidence for the driver. I have done about four 650km long hauls in this, and when you get out at the end you still feel fresh and don't have a sore back at all, but that is only if you set the seats correctly.

This car isn't really set up for around town running, the engine and gearbox is quite cumbersome so making gearchanges difficult to get perfect, and the power curve of the engine likes revs to be just under 3000rpm. It's not a hard car to drive around town, but it's not as nippy as a small hatchback.

Road noise is very good, not much of that at all apart from when on rough chip seal. Engine noise is there, it's just enough to know it's a diesel, but once you are at highway speeds, you don't notice it. Around town and slow driving, you can hear the engine, although it isn't obtrusive.

Handling is superb. As I said above it sits very nicely on the road. Perfectly balanced between understeer and oversteer, there's almost no understeer and no oversteer that I have found. The dynamic set-up of the car really puts it into the drivers-car category. It doesn't have the power to be a race car, but the handling and driver feedback, control means that this car handles like nothing else in its class.

Build quality is average. The chassis is flexible (great for dynamics), which means you get squeaks from interior panels, mainly the rear parcel shelf. The dashboard feels nice and solid, no complaints there. The door handles don't really feel definite, but the doors do shut nice and quiet. You can't fold down the rear seat, which is a pain sometimes, but it means the back seat is very comfortable as it's well moulded to the car.

Would like to have it lowered, it sits very high at the back when the tank is empty. The front is kinda high as well. I intend on getting an Mi16 model at some stage, which has sportier suspension and a much more powerful engine.

We run ours on home brew biodiesel. It runs great on this, and doesn't seem to have any negative effects whatsoever, which is good. The fuel pump failure was not related to this (main shaft wear destroyed front seal and let in air, so the car wouldn't run).

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th September, 2008

1993 Peugeot 405 Hunter Estate 1.9 turbo diesel from UK and Ireland

Summary:

The best real-world car, ever?

Faults:

Handbrake cables snapped, and car rolled off my drive and through a brick wall! That was fun... all front body panels (bonnet, both wings, bumper, headlights, indicators, grill) beyond repair, so replaced with secondhand parts which were painted where applicable. Then I bought a donor car which I swapped the panels with, so now it looks like new again...

Waterpump began leaking (and making an awful noise) soon after purchase. Disappointing given the previous owner had not replaced it, as a matter of course, 2,000 miles previously when they had skimmed the cylinder head, replaced the gasket and the cambelt! Radiator also replaced as a precaution as it was 10 years old, according to the date stamp on the top.

Auxiliary belt tensioner is currently noisy at idle, but I have a new one ready to fit.

Driver's seat split along a horizontal stitching seam - they all do that. Replaced with a "new" one from a donor car.

Headlining - sagging at the front when I bought it (stapled up), now sagging at the back. Looks like water is leaking in somewhere (roof rails or around window seals?), so will be removed for investigation.

General Comments:

Perhaps I am mad, but I would like to back up my headline statement with facts.

You can buy a mint example 405 turbodiesel estate for well under £1,000, and usually under £500 - I paid £375 for mine, a 2 owner car with all service history from day 1.

- It is one of the best-looking estates of it's time - designed by Pininfarina, no less;

- It handles and rides better than most midsize front-wheel drive cars, even now (it's more fun to drive than the 2007 Saab 9-3 I had as a company car previously);

- The seats are supremely comfortable for an average sized adult, and it has decent head and legroom all round;

- They are very well-equipped - this one has a/c, ABS, electric windows all round, electric heated mirrors, remote central locking and even an electronic oil level indicator (woo!);

- The upper bodywork just does not rust (and the underside, provided you look after it, is rust-resistant too);

- The rear loadspace is voluminous, indeed larger than the 406 estate that succeeded it;

- They tow beautifully, and most have built-in roof rails for further carrying capacity;

- And, of course, with the 1.9TD engine, they are good for hundreds of thousands of miles (provided they are properly serviced), fantastically economical (I regularly get 54MPG out of mine) and, as the final bonus, can run on vegetable oil.

OK, so I am biased, owning two of these Hunters (I have a 128k mile car for "spares", although it's too good to scrap!) and a 405 saloon as well - a 1994 GLDT which also has a review on this site. But, for someone who wants to spend the minimum on their car in terms of outlay and running costs, and doesn't mind getting dirty once in a while I think a 405 is hard to beat.

Finding a good one is the hard part, because many seem to suffer with head gasket failure. If the coolant is changed every 2 years this should not happen, so finding one with evidence of that - plus radiator replacement every 10 years or 100k miles - will lessen the risk substantially.

I do a full service (oil, air and fuel filters) every 5k miles, which is probably overkill, but given the parts (all Mann filters too) cost me £20, plus decent oil, I consider it money well spent. I've done over 25k miles in my three 405s in the last 12 months and have never "failed to proceed".

Buy one and beat the credit crunch!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th August, 2008