Quite a variety of models in this line-up – three-door, five-door, station wagon and even a folding metal top coupé-cabriolet, a car that coined the simple and now popular title of CC. This complex but clever and neatlooking roof was made by specialist company Heuliez and shipped complete to the Peugeot 206 factory in Mulhouse, Alsace. The 1,6- and 2,0-litre CC models attracted chic, mainly upwardly mobile, women, whereas the SW wagon offered very practical space for the family while the hatchback was a sportylooking runabout for all. The first 206 in SA, unleashed in August 2000, was the fiery 2,0-litre, three-door GTi with 99 kW and 190 N.m on tap.
It was a long wait till the “cooking” models arrived – exactly one year later – in 140 XR and 160 XR guises. The 1,4 produced 55 kW from its eight-valve engine, while the 1,6 offered 80 kW using d-o-h-c and four valves per cylinder. In typical French style, a full spec of features was included on all models.
Luggage capacity of the hatches gives a not-so-great 216 dm³ expanding to a class average figure of 864 dm³ with the rear seats folded. With the SW, we have a more family-friendly 272 dm³ to 1 040 dm³ and the CC 1,6 and 2,0-litre models surprised us with respectable figures of 120 dm³ (roof stowed away) to 280 dm³ with the roof erect. The SW included the option to open only the tailgate window for easy loading of parcels after retracting the parcel shelf.
In July 2004, Peugeot introduced the budget Peugeot 206 Popart 1,4 in three- and five-door forms selling at reduced prices of R109 900 and R115 900, respectively. The engine was upspecced to four-valves per cylinder, but output remained at 55 kW. These were still kitted out with dual airbags, an audio system, central locking and air-conditioning, only lacking the ABS featured on the more expensive X-line. Late in 2003, the GTi was given a massive vitamin dose to up power to 130 kW and torque to 202 N.m, all of which made it even more desirable in the pocket-rocket stable.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR ENGINES
Ticking noises from the engines irritated a few owners, but this seemed to be “normal” and probably emanated from the fuel injectors. Worse was the number of misfire/cutting- out hassles that sometimes could be traced to the ECU (around R8 500 for full replacement), other times to the throttle body (R2 000 to R4 000). For a pleasant change, there were no sob stories about the diesel models, so Peugeot seems to have a handle on reliable diesel engine design.
Although gearbox failures were few (one had an internal bearing break-up), most respondents did not like the notchy gear change. A few clutches, as happens universally, gave up at low mileages.
SUSPENSION, BRAKES AND WHEELS
Front brake pads irritated owners with their squeaking and the solution was to replace the pads with a different make. Some discs also needed replacement, an all too common complaint these days.
A few mild hydraulic leaks left blemishes on driveways, but otherwise no reported worries.
A rather large number of electrical glitches were reported, involving airbag warning lights, immobiliser gremlins and instruments. Many were intermittent, often random and could sometimes be “cured” by disconnecting the battery terminal and then re-connecting it. Two owners said that the front fog lamps shorted out. The worst culprit mentioned by far was indicator stalk failure. This unit is sold as an assembly that includes the lights and wiper controls as well, costing about R2 000 for the part alone. Some have had this item replaced many times, so be sure to test all steering wheel-mounted controls before purchase!
A few seats suffered breakage, mainly from runner problems, some leather seat stitching came adrift, and an interior reading-light fell out of its housing.
Rattles, squeaks and even more rattles were mentioned. Water leaks were frequently mentioned by owners of the sunshine-friendly CC models as well as some malfunctions with the complicated folding mechanism.
Some dealers went the extra mile to help customers, but others got a dismal rating. With many niggling, often intermittent, problems to deal with, the dealers must have more than a few grey hairs among them. On the positive side, GTi owners in general loved their hot hatches.
Sadly for this fun car, small gripes seem to plague owners, often causing them to choose something from a different manufacturer next time round. But for once we can say (cautiously) that the diesels should impress owners with their miserly fuel consumption and not provide too many maintenance headaches. On an even brighter note, the GTi remains one of the spunkiest hot hatches of its era.
ALSO LOOK AT?
VW Polo, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Getz, Kia Rio, Renault Clio, Chev Aveo, Honda Jazz, Citroën C3, Fiat Palio/Weekend, Opel Corsa, Daihatsu Sirion.