The Peugeot 206 was ahead of its time when it launched in 1998, and it’s still popular, even though they stopped making them in 2010. This is because the supermini was built with quality materials, and it had a unique design with irregular angles that hadn’t really been seen before.
In fact, the Peugeot 206 was among the top sellers in the UK throughout its life.
The 206 isn’t thrilling to drive, but it gets a good head of steam up after a while. It is clear Peugeot designed a car to last because, even now, it provides a calm driving experience. The cabin keeps wind and road noise levels to a minimum so, considering its age, it still holds up as a quiet car.The 1.4-litre 16v petrol model is a good place to start if you’re after a 206 – it provides a good compromise between size, performance and economy.
Ride and handling
The Peugeot 206 is a good handler, especially over rougher roads. The car will cope with long trips even if you can’t, due to its cramped cabin. The ride is generally graceful, and the handling can be entertaining, if not a match for the Ford Fiesta – the supermini class-leader.
The 206 also has a good amount of grip that allows it to make tight turns and fast swerves without any issues.
The front passenger wins every time here. Not only is legroom good with the seat pulled right back, the seat is actually quite comfortable. Unfortunately the same can’t be said if you’re the driver - the lack of an adjustable steering wheel means it’s really hard to get a comfy driving position.
Also, the Peugeot 206 isn’t a family car. Rear seat passengers will end up feeling cramped in the back, even with the front passenger seat moved forward. At least the boot’s a respectable size and shape, though.
What to know before you buy
The baby Peugeot has a decent reliability record. Any issues are usually down to the electrics – the central locking being a particular weak point. However, when things do go pear-shaped, they’re nearly always inexpensive to put right.
It’s also wise to check for excessive brake wear, especially on the sportier XSi, GTi and turbodiesel models. When on your test drive, if you hear a high-pitched squeal when you stop, this is the most obvious sign the car’s brake pads need changing.
Depending on how demanding a driver you are, this usually means you should get the brake pads replaced within the month.
The Ford Fiesta is the main rival to the 206, as well as its descendants - the 207 and 208. However, the Fiesta is a tad uninteresting to look at compared with the French fancies.
The Skoda Fabia is another opponent - it’s an affordable motor and makes a good alternative, as does the Volkswagen Polo. Then again, the VW’s esteemed badge goes hand in hand with a much higher price tag.
The 206 proved a big hit due to its stylish little shape. It’s starting to show its age in some respects though, especially compared with the newer 207 and even fresher 208.
Its successors blow it away in terms of build quality. Once you’ve sat in a Peugeot 206 and then in a 207 or 208, the difference is unbelievable.
The poky rear and lack of finesse, as well as the “elephant-hide” scratchy plastics on the 206’s dash, don’t help matters. That said, the Peugeot 206 continues to be a good secondhand buy if you’re on a tight budget.
Indeed, it makes a great first car because it’s inexpensive to run, mechanically reliable and the overall shape still looks good even after 17 years.