Soon to be launched in Hong Kong, Peugeot's latest executive-class two-litre saloon has received wide acclaim in Europe where it was first introduced a year ago at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The new Peugeot 406 carries on where the top-selling 405 left off, continuing a formula of spaciousness, comfort and value for money. Britain's Autocar magazine nominated the 406 'European Car of the Year' in 1995, while in other countries it has received a variety of awards and accolades. If the 406 comes across as unremarkable, in its conservative, almost restrained styling, it is because it has been designed to fulfil the needs of families, business travellers and others who require a fairly simple machine to take them from A to B. It makes no pretence at being otherwise, although it does have a character all its own. It is far from anonymous and anyone who has driven a Japanese car of a similar class will immediately acknowledge that the 406 is distinctly European. European cars tend to handle better than their Japanese counterparts, due mainly to the location and set-up of the rear suspension. Multi-link suspension has long been a feature of Peugeot's vehicles and this is carried forward to the 406. A degree of compliance is built into the multi-arm suspension, giving what Peugeot describes as 'micro steering'. In reality, it simply means the car is more responsive to steering demands, especially at higher speeds. The 16-valve engine has been further refined and now produces an excellent 135 bhp at 5,500 rpm. The 406's torque figure is marginally above average for its class at 18.7 m/kg, generated at 4,200 rpm. On the road, the 406 proves extremely tractable under all conditions. More of a sales gimmick than any real value is a rain detector which automatically activates the wipers. Well equipped, the 406 features full leather upholstery, a 10-disc CD auto-changer, dual air-bags, electronically adjustable front seats, light alloy wheels and speed-sensitive power steering. At $259,900, the 406 must be a winner on price alone. Its other features, though, will surely set it apart on the Hong Kong market.