1 Sep 1999
Peugeot belatedly replaced its loved 205 model with the 206 in the late '90s, and managed to make an even bigger success of it – in part because of the superb styling inside and out.
Released locally in September ’99, three three-door and five-door models arrived – in 67kW/137Nm 1.6-litre SOHC 8V four-cylinder engined XR and better-equipped XT, as well as 102kW/194Nm 2.0-litre DOHC 16V GTI.
All bar the latter were partnered with a four-speed automatic as well as a five-speed manual gearbox.
But the GTI, after an initial flush of excitement, proved unworthy of its illustrious 205 GTI predecessor, primarily because Peugeot added extra weight, equipment and safety to a larger and more refined package.
At least it was not as hairy to drive. A flood of 206 derivatives then followed.
A sprightlier 1.6 featuring DOHC and 16V technology lifted XR and XT outputs to 82kW/147Nm from early ’01, followed by a new entry-level model from March ’02.
Featuring a new 55kW/120Nm 1.4-litre engine, it was put into the XR five-door hatch and priced under $20,000.
A small facelift featuring new trim, extra safety features (more airbags, standard ABS brakes), a Tiptronic-style shift on automatics and redesigned tail-lights, was incorporated from March ’04, while the GTI 180 supplemented the regular version.
With extensively reworked steering, suspension and 1997cc engine (now producing 130kW/202Nm), it brought sharper dynamics and more performance to the once-great variant – but Peugeot’s decision not to install lift-off oversteer infuriated purists.
Special editions of regular 206s included the well-specified XRS 1.6 (from mid-’01 and mid-’03), as well as the GTI Rallye of late ’02 – identified by a body kit and extra kit.