How much? Yeah, but what would you rather have – this Peugeot 306 Rallye or a new Focus ST with some options?
By John Howell / Thursday, 26 May 2022 / Loading comments
Everyone who wants to chat about the price, fill your boots. Spring forth with all those originals like ‘How much?’ or ‘£46,000?’ or ‘I was offered one of those for a fiver.’ Yes, it is £46,000. Yes, that’s a lot of money. But, just to put the record straight, Spotteds have nothing to do value for money. Aldi’s full of bargains if that’s your bag. Spotteds are about interesting cars, and is there anything much more interesting than a Peugeot 306 Rallye with 309 miles on the clock? I’ve just thought, thank God it’s not 306 miles, because that would’ve guaranteed it would never turn a wheel again.
If you’re still smarting about the price, let me try and help you through this with a little bit of smart PH maths. These days, the list price of a Ford Focus ST is £36,500, and that’s before any extras. Simple question: which would you rather have? New Focus ST or this? Here’s another: which will cost you more in the long run? New Focus ST or this? Right, so with that problem solved – or with the Internet now an inferno – let’s crack on and talk cars. Peugeots, specifically.
As much as I love looking at 205s – as I’ve said before, I think they’re possibly the best-looking hatchbacks, hot or not, of all time – the 306 is a looker, too. If there’s a fugly window seal or pressing, I haven’t found it. What I did find with the 205 GTi was its crocodile tail, which was a bit spiteful. Should you find yourself faced with a slow-moving or stationary something or other mid-bend, it wasn’t skill but Harry Potter’s wand you needed to avoid opening up a portal in the adjacent hedge. Now, I am not saying the 306 was a pussycat at the rear, either, but, like the 405 Mi16, which is one of my all-time favs, the 306’s longer wheelbase helped calm things down a tad.
I’ve driven plenty of 306 GTi-6s before, and they were a hoot, so chucking ballast out to the tune of 65kg should, one would imagine, have made the Rallye even hootier. But I wouldn’t know, to tell you the truth. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a 306 Rallye in the flesh, and I’ve absolutely not had a go in one. Until this thing popped up on the PH radar, I forgotten these things even existed. And how cheap they were.
Rather than ‘doing a Porsche’ with the weight saving, Peugeot didn’t charge you more for leaving stuff out. The 306 Rallye cost £15,995 back in 1999, while the GTi-6 was not far off £3,000 more. I actually prefer the look of the Rallye’s unvarnished interior, which was stripped of leather trim, air-con and electric windows and mirrors. Oh yes, and some of the sound deadening, which meant it was noisier, and I don’t mind a touch of earthiness when it comes to a driver’s car.
It was a driver’s car, too, and for a number of reasons. With a kerbweight of just 1,163kg, this thing was light. Let’s use the new Focus ST as a yardstick again: the 306 is nearly 300kg lighter than one of those. So 170hp and 142lb ft means plenty of fizz. Okay, it would be left for dead in a straight line by the Focus ST – I am not pretending otherwise on that score – but when it comes to excitement, this 306 makes an Focus ST feel dead flat.
That’s because, for all its torque, the ST’s engine flattens out at the top end and has a synthesised tone. The 306’s 2.0-litre 16-valve XU is all about the top end. Indeed, bugger all happens below 3,000rpm, but it’s a hot hatch, so anything below that is superfluous. Get it above 4,500rpm and the action begins, and these engines keep gathering gusto until you’re slamming into the limiter someway past 7,000rpm. There’s nothing fake sounding about it, either. Low down it’s all bellowing induction roar followed by manic shrieks as you keep the throttle pinned.
That’s my recollection of the GTi-6, anyway. As I said, I haven’t tried a Rallye, but assuming it adds to the GTi-6’s gamey handling I doubt you’ll be disappointed by that, either. The GTi-6 was a wieldy thing. It communicated all you needed to know through its steering feel and the controlled manner in which the body leaned and yawed. Remember, this was the era when Peugeot had a tin of handling stardust that it’d sprinkle on everything from a boggo 106 upwards.
If you’re still reading, then hopefully that means you’re not obsessing over the price and just enjoying something nice plucked from the classifieds. I’ve selected a few choice photos from the advert, but I recommend having a look at it for yourself, because there are 30 pictures to gawp at. Each one of them depicts the car as new, but, if whoever buys it doesn’t drive it, then I’m afraid you will find yourselves on the PH naughty step forever more.
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