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PEUGEOT 206 (1998-2006) (stills taken from video road test)




  • Good ride and handling 
  • Hold their value well due to good image 
  • Willing engines
  • Long service intervals


  • Engines are a bit noisy 
  • Dull and cheap interior
  • Uncomfortable driving position
  • Scored poorly in 2005 independant reliability survey

The 206 followed in the 205's footsteps by being one of the best selling cars in the UK, and like the 205 the handling is sharp and precise. I found the cornering on this car confidence inspiring, making it good fun to drive. This cornering prowess has not been taken at the expense of poor ride either - the suspension feels firm but never harsh and its really good at soaking up those potholes and bumps. The 1.4 i tested didn't look that quick on paper (0-60 around 12secs) but it actually felt pretty nippy and spirited, albeit a little noisy when revved hard. The interior does let this car down a bit though. Its hard to find a comfortable driving position and this isn't helped by the fact the the pedals are too close together as well. The hard plastics and average french build quality give the cabin a cheapish feel - compare it against the Polo cabin, for example, and you will see what i mean. On the plus side the legroom in the rear is one of the best in class (get a 5-door to make the most of it) and the boot space is good as well. But perhaps it's trump card is the fact that the years have been kind to the 206 - it still looks fresh and modern 8 years from launch resulting in a good image and the strong residual values that go with that.


The best engine is the 1.9HDi which gives both performance and economy, however the purchase price will be substantially higher than a petrol car. If you are not a diesel fan the 1.4 petrol is the best bet as the 1.1 engine is underpowered. the GTi is a real bundle of fun but you pay for it with group 14 insurance. The CC convertible looks good but it's image makes it strictly for girls only!


In the largest independant reliabily survey of 2005 the Peugeot 206 was placed a miserable 151st out of 160 - which doesn't bode well. A number of electical problems are reported (so make sure ALL electrical items works as they should) as well as a stiff gearbox (the tell tale sign being a stiff clutch). The metal folding roof on the CC has been prone to leaks and mechanical problems as well. The 206 also has a number niggly recall issues that affect cars built between various specific dates. Its worth checking these on the Government's recall website (just search 'vosa' in google) to make sure the car you are thinking of buying isn't one of them, or if it is, the recall has been carried out.


Although it doesn't feel particulary solid and safe this perception is misleading. Its actually scored a highly commendable 4 out of 5 stars in the Euroncap safety tests.   


Introduced in 1998, trim improvements in late 2000 including 3-point rear seat belts from the LX upwards and a new 1.6 16valve engine. The coupe convertible followed in 2001 and the SW estate in 2002.


An old wise man with a strange hat once told me "time spend on reconnaissance is time seldom wasted" - which when translated into buying a used car means "a little preparation can save you a lot of money and frustration". Seriously, if you are spending thousands of pounds its worth following a few simple points to help you avoid being dissapointed with your i hope you find this buyerguide useful.

Before seeing the car:

  • If it is a private sale make sure you view the car at the sellers premises - this will help determine if the seller is genuine
  • Always ask the seller to make sure the car is cold when you come to view it - warm engines can hide a multitude of sins

How to check the mechanics:

  • Before the car is warmed up check for a film of oil in the radiator - the presence of oil would signify internal engine leaks or a blown head gasket
  • Make sure the oil on the dipstick is smooth and has no bits in it or milky scum - again this could mean internal engine leaks
  • On starting from cold make sure the engine does not turn over sluggishly - this could mean a worn starter and or starter motor.
  • Check for oil leaks around the engine and on the ground where the car has been stood - any leaks could indicate expensive gasket replacement

Body and interior:

  • Worn drivers seat, pedal rubbers, and a shiney steering wheel all indicate a high mileage car - check these appear consistent with the indicated mileage
  • Evidence of scratches or tampering around the speedometer is a dead giveaway that the car has been 'clocked' and the mileage is not genuine
  • Check that the tyres have 1.8mm legal tread depth and the exhaust is silent when you cover the end with a cloth whilst the car is running - both can be price negotiating points of replacements are needed
  • Check that everything works such as switches, heater, a/c, windows, mirrors, stereo, interior and exterior lights - fixing any of these things can be a real pain
  • On older cars check for rust on the sills and floorpan (prod carefully with a screwdriver) - unless you are friendly with a welder rot can be expensive and messy to fix.
  • Check all body panels are consistent in colour and fit - if they are not it is likely that the car has been in an accident and has been repaired poorly

Road testing the car:

  • With the handbrake firmly on try to set off in 1st gear. The car should stall instantly - if it does not it is likely that the clutch needs replacing
  • After driving for a short while floor the throttle - a could of blue smoke out of the exhaust indicates worn bores or valve guides both of which are expensive to fix
  • The car should accelerate smoothly accross the rev range - flat spots or hesitation may signify fuel injection and /or computer problems which are notoriously hard to diagnose and fix
  • The car should pull away smoothly from a standing start - if it judders this may indicate oil contamination of the clutch plate and a new clutch will be needed
  • take the car to at least 70mph. The car should drive straight and not pull to one side. If there is significant vibration this may indicate any one of a number of hard to diagnose problems. Do not let the seller fob you off with "its just the wheels that need balancing".
  • When the car is stopped with the engine running turn the steering wheel from full lock to full lock - rough operation or hissing indicates the power steering is faulty

Finally, trust your instincts about the car and the seller and do not let your heart rule your head - if you are not happy just walk away!!

I hope you found this information useful. For a more comprehensive appraisal of the Peugeot 206 you can also download our full video road test. Want to see how easy the seats fold down? how much boot space there is? what the interior is like? how much leg room there is? what its really like to drive and live with in the realworld?..... then just click on the link below


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