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For the last week now I have been the proud owner of a 206 LX 1.4 HDi, and I have covered just under 1000 miles on a combination of motorways, country b-roads and town driving with between one and four bodies on board. My car is the new LX specification (which now includes front fog lights, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlights), and I have added a rear spoiler.
I can only say that this little car performs admirably, regardless of what you ask of it.
The 1.4 common-rail turbodiesel engine has 68BHp and 115lb/ft of torque available at 2000rpm, so when you need to pull away from something you can do so easily. On paper, the 1.4 petrol is faster but in real-world driving the immediacy of the torque delivery on the HDi means that it feels quicker.
All 206s come with independent suspension all-round, and you can certainly feel it when you are accelerating out of a tight bend. It is very competent and I have yet to feel any sliding in this sort of situation, even in the wet. This, coupled with direct and accurate steering makes for a very enjoyable drive.
On motorways, the 206 1.4 HDi is comfortable at 60mph but wants to be pushed a little harder. Engine noise is almost nothing, but road noise is a little on the high side on rough surfaces.
The car easily pushes on to 70mph, and the little diesel engine is much happier here. It thrums away gently in a way that suggests it could carry like this all day, but wants to be pushed a bit more. The engine noise is still very low.
Press on again to 80mph, and the car is starting to feel in its element now. Again, it is confident at this speed and there is plenty of power left to out-accelerate a suddenly-slowing lorry on a hill. Engine noise is still unobtrusive.
If you wish to head on past this, 90mph will begin to stretch the little motor. Although still reasonable, the engine noise is definitely noticeable now and is telling you not to keep this up all day. Having said that, the handling remains much the same and is still light and direct. On my car, the rear spoiler begins to add a small amount of useful downforce around this speed, so it may be that cars without the spoiler might tend to feel a little light at the back end.
I have not driven the car any faster than this.
As for economy, it is excellent. Cruising for 400 miles on the motorway at 85Mph, the car will easily return 54mpg. Around town, if you keep the revs down, you can conformably achieve 58mpg. I am soon going to drive 700 miles in one go, and I intend to limit my speed to 70mph. I'll report back on the economy for that trip later.
As for the cabin, it is reasonably spacious and well laid out. All the central-console buttons are easily reached without stretching, and the seats remain comfortable even on long journeys. The automatic headlights can be a bit over-zealous, sometimes switching on when driving underneath a motorway bridge, but they do work. The rain-sensing wipers are excellent for dealing with frequent showers or overtaking lorries on wet roads (spray), but they do get a bit overwhelmed when there is a sustained heavy burst of rain. Since they are easily over-ridden, this is not really a problem. The automatic headlights also have an override.
All in all, there are only a couple of points that I am unhappy with. Firstly, the wipers wipe the wrong way across the windscreen. This is really just me being picky, as visibility is still fine on the drivers side anyway. Secondly, the handbrake is on the wrong side of the transmission tunnel (ie, closer to the passenger), but again it only takes seconds to get used to and is just me being picky. Thirdly, it is no longer accurate to call the car's brain the "engine management system". Really, it should now be called the VCMU (vehicle control & monitoring unit), because it does so much. It checks that the radio is registered to the vehicle, it checks that none of the doors are open (and tells you if they are), it checks that you're not having an impact and if you are it deploys the airbags, it thinks about how hard it is raining (even with the auto-wipe switched off, it adjusts the wipe speed depending on how fast you are travelling), it thinks about how light it is, it works the horn when you ask it, it works your main beams when you ask it, it checks and displays the engine oil level for you, it remembers how much fuel you had when you turned the ignition off, it works the rear-wash wipe when you ask it to, it opens the drivers window all the way or closes it all the way (usually when you don't want it to), it turns the cabin-light on and off, all the while monitoring and adjusting the engine to run at its best. All of these functions, out of one little box. It worries me that something may go wrong with the wiper system, and the car could end up needing an entirely new unit. However, this is a risk on all modern cars, and the risk is very slight. I called a repair garage about the costs on the unit, and was told that in the course of a year they might fit five engine management units, and they usually see approximately forty cars a week. So the risk is tiny, and the likelihood of a problem on a Peugeot is apparently less than some other car manufacturers.
After all, Peugeot are considered to make the most reliable diesel engines currently on sale in the UK (yes, even more reliable than VW).
I have had a peugeot 206 for nearly 2 years and I really enjoy driving it.
JADELOUISESILVA 07.06.2003 23:16
1000 miles in a week? Where do you go? Jade x
MissC 16.01.2003 22:10
Have been thinking about getting a 206, more than likely second hand, and have always dismissed diesels as being too slow and tank sounding like. Your op was very helpful and has made me see that a 206 diesel is far from being tank like! Fuel economy sounds excellent, as does speed and handling. Thanks for opening my eyes to the possibility of a diesel.
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