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Peugeot 405 MI16

Published: 21st Apr 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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What is a Peugeot 405 Mi16?

Nineteen-eighty-eight was a good year for Peugeot. The new 405 model which had been launched in Europe in 1987 was named Car of the Year for 1988. But almost hidden among this range of worthy but slightly sensible cars was a real sheep in wolf’s clothing in the form of the 405 Mi16 introduced in Britain in July 1988.


Under normal circumstances, the Mi 16 was brother to the ever-reliable and slightly prim 405 but when called upon it could mix it with the best of BMW. For under the bonnet of this once humble family-friendly saloon lurked 160bhp – courtesy of 1.9-litres, two camshafts and 16 valves – thatwas capable of propelling the car to within an ace of double the legal limit.

These days, a maximum speed of 136 mph – where permissible, of course – might not seem so hot but 16 years ago this level of performance for a car that, aside from aerodynamic add-ons, was a repmobile was quite something. The Mi16’s 1.9-litre unit engine was no ordinary shopping-trolley lump but one derived from a unit that had won two world rally championships in 1985 and 1986 and notched up a double win in the gruelling Paris-Dakar Raid in 1987 and 1988. Anti-lock brakes were fitted as standard, along with alloy wheels and stiffer suspension. From the front, the Mi16 could be differentiated by a deeper spoiler while at the rear, lowered undershields were used in attempt to reduce air turbulence and a bootmounted aerofoil sat on two ‘pylons. Designated XU9-J4, the Mi16’s engine produced its maximum power at 6500 rpm and 133 lb ft of torque at 5500 rpm. Its light-alloy block was identical to that the of the 206 T16, XU8T rally car engine, with a five-bearing crank that featured eight balance counterweights and a torsional vibration damper at the timing end. Sitting on alloy wheels shod with ‘V’-rated 195/60 tyres, the Mi 16’s ride height was lower than the standard car by 10 mm at the front and 15mm at the rear. Peugeot produced 47,900 of these slingshots between 1987 and 1992, at its Ryton plant in Coventry,  of which 1046 were four-wheel drive models designated Mi16x4.


First impressions are that an Mi16 is a well-appointed saloon rather than a sporting model. The engine is quite flat and only comes on cam at around 4000rpm, when an extra 50bhp seems to have appeared from nowhere. A ‘tall’ first gear means a fairly leisurely zero-to-60 mph time of almost nine seconds and one only when changing from third to fourth, with the engine still pulling strongly does one become aware of the car’s performance. The 405 was a handling icon back in the 1980s and the Mi16’s poise is more like that of the brilliant 205 GTi, thanks to its weight of just 1110kg.


An early Mi16, 1988, model can vary in price from £350 for a tatty example to £1100 for one in A1 condition with a good history and low mileage The rarer and more complicated Mi16x 4 can command £450 for an example in poor condition to £1600 for a good one. Such are the prices of top models that basket cases are not worth the effort or cash but they certainly make sense as a scrapper to salvage vital parts for the future as spares dwindle.

What To Look For

  • Main areas to check for corrosion are front lower cross-member, boot floor and roof ahead of the sunroof. Doors are prone to dropping due to hinge wear but the hinge pins and bushes is relatively inexpensive.
  • Check front seats for rock, as this can indicate damage around the floorpan where they are bolted to.
  • Check for wear in the lower arm bushes and rod ends. The rear suspension is based on a Citroen hydraulic system and though problems are rare and parts are cheap, labour can be costly so use a specialist.
  • The biggest problem is main crank and big end bearing condition on an otherwise bomb-proof engine. Listen out for knocking under light/medium load, cam clatter and any performance chipping that may not be too successful. Cambelt replacement is critical on this engine – anything over 36,000 miles is a danger zone. Head gaskets fail too. Incidentally the 1.9- litre blocks can also be found in the Citroen BX/ZX and the 405 SRi/GTX.
  • The transmission is usually problem-free, apart from worn syncro that can be replaced easily, since the unit is the same one with different ratios - used by 205 and 309. Hard use will take its toll though and watch for a loose-feeling gear lever.
  • The Mi16x4 transmission is different to that of the Mi16 (being the same set as as used by the Lancia Integrale, no less) and the key area to check is for internal damage, such as broken teeth, indicated by problems with drive to the rear wheels. This is megga expensive, as is repairing any damage to the Torsen-type rear differential unit. If in any doubt, have it checked by a specialist.
  • If the clutch is knackered in a 4x4 car, expect to pay well into four figures for a replacement fitted at Peugeot dealer. (The clutch is identical to the standard 2wd but the prop, subframe and transfer box have to be removed before the gearbox can come off.)
  • Brakes are a problem on early models. Apart from normal wear and tear (shot discs) original ABS system was ECU controlled: it relies on solenoid operated valves to distribute the pressure from the ABS pump to each corner. Replacement ABS pumps and master cylinders are again into four figures.
  • Simple jobs like bleeding brakes also require specialist attention. However, a later set-up features a conventional master cylinder and vacuum servo, with the ABS as a separate system.
  • The trim can prove to be frail. Look for shabby seats, broken switchgear (common) and seized sunroofs. Some parts are special to the Mi16 and ordinary 405 bits will look out of place. If leather if fitted check as French cows were not the most sturdy…


With any vehicle of this age, condition is everything but a well cared for Mi16 offers a lot of practical performance for a modest outlay. It possess sensational Integrale-like handling and Gti-style pace. For the money there’s little to touch this pugnacious pug.

Classic Motoring

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