I am now onto my 3rd Peugeot 306 having driven them for the last 7-8 years now, and have had absolutely no complaints, when they have failed or have been damaged they have been cheap to repair or replace parts.
My first Peugeot was a K Reg 1.4L Petrol and was one of the first 306’s to be made, so just missed out on the standard sunroof and electric windows, but I was not in the slightest bit bothered, as I got mine for a very reasonable price of £2100, with a mere 56,000 miles on the clock (this was back in 2000), a CD player thrown in for free, perfect service history, and a funky blue gear stick left from the previous owner! Not a problem as my favourite colour is blue! This car sadly came to an untimely end at the hands (wheels) of an idiot on a motorbike doing 60mph in a 30mph zone in a village, needless to say the car came off badly, but he came off worse ending up with 2 broken legs and a broken arm and luckily for him nothing more! It did however highlight the strength in such a small but sturdy family car. This early model did not have an airbag, but bar a few cuts a bruises I survived it all and have lived to see another day ... and drive another two 306's!
My second was a car on loan from my housemate (For all of 2007), this time around a L Reg 1.6L Petrol, with a lot more miles on the clock somewhere around 110,000 but with an inherited oil problem due to the owner prior to him thrashing it about and boasting about getting up to 60mph in 2nd gear! Needless to say this didn't play too well with the engine and after driving it for 8 months and about 10litres of oil later the engine finally packed up due to having no oil! 10 litres in 8 months to most cars would flood the sump! Not so in this case. Either way I got the car recovered to a garage and asked what my options were they said they could try and rebuild the engine or just do a salvage op from another 306 write off, I opted for the latter and managed to get myself another 1.6L engine with about 55,000 miles wear on it for the princely sum of £270, after labour and other bits and bobs to fit it all in the cost came in at about £700, but still £700 for a reliable car with only 55,000 miles on the engine is pretty damned good going! The car was resentfully returned to its owner a few months later when my 1 year loan ended.
This however prompted the purchase of my 3rd 306 (From December 2007 onwards), this time I opted for an R Reg, D Turbo 1.9L, for £1250, due to the fact I was doing a lot more mileage then and diesel was cheaper back then .... oh those were the days, and now with the escalating prices of fuel it still seems to show its benefits. In the previous cars I was looking at between 450-550 miles to a tank if I was lucky (Fuel tanks on all 306's is a hefty 60L which means less fill ups required, but it does make you wince when you do have to come to pay for a full tank). When I first had the car I would happily drive it along the motorway at 70mph and pootle around town at average speeds, this managed to eek out about 500-550 miles to the tank but with Diesel being slightly cheaper it was slightly more economical than petrol. Then fuel prices got silly and have been heading higher every week as we are all fully aware, so having checked around people tended to recommend 55mph was the most economical, so I tried it on a full tank to see what difference it made and much to my surprise and also delight I got 700 miles + out of a tank driving far more economically and this is how I drive today, keeping my costs down to about 10p a mile.
Enough about my car history and personal experiences; The good thing about the 306 is that it is an extremely popular car, obviously not as popular as something like a Fiesta, but popular nonetheless. The fact that I have been driving them, I seem to notice a lot more driving around, or perhaps I subconsciously look out for them? But as I was saying, the fact that they are popular means there are lots of 2nd hand ones around to be snapped up, so finding yours should not be all to difficult. In general, hatchback prices are very reasonable considering how good the car is; saloons are cheap but more desirable sports versions and scarce estates are pricier.
The 306 has many redeeming features to its name, such as good fuel economy, especially on the 1.4 models, and the diesels, the insurance is fantastic, my 1.4L was group 4 insurance, the 1.6L group 5 as is the 1.9TD group 5, (1.4 recommended for young or first time drivers). Insurance is usually the killer when it comes to choosing your first car, so this is ideal. Also it is worth noting 1.4L has a road tax of £120 for a full year and a 1.6 and the 1.9TD have a road tax of £185 per year.
Something that many people notice first about the 306 when they first drive it is superb chassis and suspension, giving outstanding grip and a smooth, well controlled ride; precise steering and effective brakes, which inspire great confidence in the car.
The only quirk I have about the car is that being 6”2 leg room isn’t amazing, its almost perfect in the driving seat, but I found that I was too tall with most cars that I tried before this one so they are not alone! Other than that leg room isn’t too bad, I haven’t actually been in the back of my car, or anyone else’s 306 for that matter so I can’t comment too much on that, although I haven’t had any complaints from fellow passengers in the back. I personally find the ride comfort very good, and is fine over long distances.
The 306 is a desirable car, for looks, especially in its day and age it was the best looking hatch back around, obviously other have passed it by now, but it still doesn’t look dated like other cars from the time of its origin, but it still hold its certain French ‘chic’ today, especially the Cabriolet and the S16 and Gti models pull of a lot of street cred.
The 306 is also very safe car to drive, with good crash resistance – receiving three stars on the NCAP test; ABS on some early cars, (optional on all), then standard on all from 1999; airbag on most by 1994, my first from 1993 and second from early 1994 didn’t have one. All models come with an alarm and immobiliser, and mine has remote central locking too, which is, or was standard on all models from mine upwards, only the XN below mine being the exception.
Things to check for when considering buying a 306:
The bodywork: Stands up to minor knocks quite well but check for badly resprayed accident damage.
Engine & Gearbox: Avoid noisy or smoky diesels without full history, they probably have very high mileages; oil and coolant leaks; can be a bit noisy when cold; defective accelerator linkage gives jerky throttle response.
Other things to look out for: Minor electrical problems‚ especially electric window lifts; uneven front tyre wear; suspension or shock absorber wear on high mileage cars or sports versions.
Overall the 306 remains one of the very best small family ranges thanks to its excellent handling and ride, sturdy construction and practical interior layout. It is by no means the most modern car in its class, but it's still a contender. A wide range of engines, bodies and equipment levels means that there is a 306 for almost everyone, from no frills family hatchbacks to roomy estates, desirable sports models and elegant cabriolets. Peugeot have now introduced their new model the 307, which is a hybrid cross between the 306 and the 206, which was released a few years back.