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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For It's one of the smartest superminis, and comes with a wide range of engines and trims

Against The driving position is dreadful, the interior's not as smart as the exterior, and it's rather cramped, too

Verdict There are major flaws, but with these looks, you might just forgive them all

Go for… 1.1 LX

Avoid… 1.9 diesel

Peugeot 206 Hatchback
  • 1. The number one complaint is the dreadful driving position - it seems impossible to avoid an uncomfortable straight-armed, bent-kneed position
  • 2. Check for excessive brake and suspension wear on XSi, GTi and turbodiesel models
  • 3. Almost half of the 206's problems are caused by the electrics – the central locking is a particular weakness
  • 4. It's worth avoiding the entry-level trim in favour of the next step up – LX or, on later models, S
  • 5. The boot is a decent size and shape
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Peugeot 206 Hatchback full review with expert trade views

If you like the 206's looks, you’ll forgive it almost anything. If not, you’ll find that there’s not a lot to be terribly happy about.

The number one complaint is the dreadful driving position. The seat itself is short of support, which is bad enough, but it also seems impossible to avoid an uncomfortable straight-armed, bent-kneed position. Taller drivers especially will find themselves in cramped discomfort.

The cabin is also something of a disappointment, less attractive than both the 206’s exterior and several of the car’s rivals. To make matters worse, the space it provides is no more than reasonable. At least the boot’s a decent size and shape, though.

The 206 is certainly not the best supermini to drive, but it’s far from bad. The ride is generally supple, and the handling can be entertaining, if not a match for the class-leading Ford Fiesta.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Sport models do well and just about any diesel with more than LX spec

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Of the many engines, the 1.1 and 1.4 petrols provide the best balance between cost and capability. Both are willing, and cope well in and out of town. The smaller engine is marginally better because it’s not much slower, but has lower running expenses.

There are also some fine diesels. However, we’d recommend you stretch to one of the HDis that have been gradually added to the range since late-1999 – they’re much stronger and more refined than the 1.9 D that was fitted to the first 206s.

As with so many superminis, it’s also worth avoiding the poorly equipped base trims (Style on the first 206s) in favour of the next step up – LX or, on later models, S.

Stepping further up the range is a question of deciding whether you want something luxury or sporty - GLX and SE providing the former, XSi and Sport the latter.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Low failure rates and repair costs - a great small car, but check the brakes

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

Its smart looks ensure healthy residual values, so it’s not the cheapest supermini. But, the high sales as a new car mean there are plenty of models up for sale, and every chance of negotiating a good deal.

Fuel economy is generally good, with almost all the mainstream petrols capable of at least 40mpg. Even the flagship 180bhp 2.0 GTi is quoted as returning over 30mpg.

The diesels provide better fuel economy, and the more modern HDi engines are the best. 2.0-litres should top more than 50mpg, while the later 1.4s return over 60mpg.

Everyday servicing costs are good, and insurance costs are reasonably good on mainstream models, although none falls into the very lowest groups. However, expect these costs to rise sharply if you choose a hotter model, especially the GTi.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Sport models do well and just about any diesel with more than LX spec

James Ruppert
Used car guru

If the 206 has an Achilles heel, it’s quality – that much is demonstrated by the results in the 2005 JD Power survey, when it finished only just outside the bottom 10. Its mechanical reliability was rated as below average, and the interior quality poor, with the seats and ventilation system particular areas of concern.

On the other hand, figures from Warranty Direct don’t paint Peugeot or the 206 in such a bad light. In recent reliability surveys, they put the manufacturer well ahead of its French rivals, for example, while the 206 has a good reliability record. Almost half of its problems are generated by the electrics – the central locking is a particular weakness - but when things do go wrong, they’re generally quick and quite cheap to fix.

Mechanically, the 206 seems sound, but you should check for excessive brake and suspension wear on XSi, GTi and turbodiesel models.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Low failure rates and repair costs - a great small car, but check the brakes

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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