I'm Andy, I'm a 24 year old East Anglian guy. My dream is to be a writer, so I hope you like my reviews. I have a penchant for cars, especially "bangers" so generally this is what I review! Enjoy!
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The First Kiss...... Redux
Good fuel economy, Dynamic, Cheap to Run .
Fails compared to the original is some aspects .
Value for MoneyGood
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**I write entertaining broad reviews, Google will advise you on boot capacity, turning circle and dimensions. This review is knowingly in the wrong section, as I reviewed the old model so can not write another review in the DTURBO section.**
Lest we forget.
The French have done some novel and original things in the automotive world, first production front wheel drive car, hyrdo-pneumatic suspension, first car with disc brakes, first car with swivelling headlamps. I’m not saying they’ve always been well executed, helpful, reliable or desirable, but let’s hand it to the French for a moment; they’ve come up with more automotive innovations than most.
Sometime during 1993, I can imagine a design meeting in Paris, the new jewel in Peugeots crown is in the final stages of it’s premature labour (the 309 could never be classed as innovative), amongst cigarette smoke and glasses of vintage Bordeaux.
**Suspend disbelief that this conversation took place in English...**
“Gentlemen, that sums up the model line of the 306, oh the sporty models.....” “The XSi, offered with a staggeringly average 1.8 engine.” “Oui” “Oh, and a diesel variant,” “Ah, entry level?” “No, as the sports model....” I can imagine much guffawing, then a pause, a tug on a Gauloise, and knowing glances around the table. “Innovateur!!!”
Unashamed, and brazenly Peugeot released a hot hatch in diesel form. Now there are those who will argue this wasn’t innovative, and the accolade goes to some non-entity Golf from some point during the 1980s, however I hadn’t heard of this, I’ve heard of the DTurbo, so I’ve given Peugeot that award, de facto.
The DTurbo wore no pretence, it wasn’t a diesel model dressed up as a hot-hatch, it never tried to hide it’s oil burning engine thumping and rumbling away under the bonnet, it proudly wore it’s badges displaying D-TURBO on the back, the flank and if the badges didn’t nudge you into the right direction as to what was under the bonnet, the clouds of soot pouring from the exhaust as it overtook you certainly did. Smoke and poke, certainly innovative, especially after the owner had found the fueling and turbo boost could be tweaked with a screwdriver to deliver performance that’d keep up with the exalted GTi-6 flag ship model.
It had the right hot hatch credentials, it was an exceptional handler, it was slightly lower than the standard models, slightly more taught, slightly less comfortable, it was easy to crash, easy to repair and cheap to buy, and easy to sell. It was just different enough so none of the standard model parts fitted, and was quick. Yes, a hot hatch.
It also had a diesel engine, and with typical Gallic flair just shrugged it’s shoulders when questioned about it. It had no pretence it was different and proud.
Fast forward to the late 1990’s, the 306 was going through its final design (‘phase 3’ colloquially) paying plenty of homage to the original design but tweaked, clear polycarbonate headlamps, revised interior, tweaked suspension and Peugeot’s new jewel in the crown to replace its aging but popular XUD engine, the new and innovative HDi. “High Pressure Diesel Injection” was the order of the day . In the real world more powerful that it’s predecessor, more economical, more refined, and just right for repeating the initial magic. Once again DTURBO was born, wearing now an identical kit to the XSi models, but with even more performance, and it’d crack the magic 50MPG without too much hassle.
I’ve owned my 2000 306 DTURBO for a few weeks now, some might argue this isn’t long enough to assess ownership of a car, but I’ve owned one of the original models, and several of my friends are blessed with a similar vehicle. The ‘phase-3’ despite sharing the vast majority of its parts with the earlier model somehow misses out the flare of the original model, it looks no less sporty, it handles the same, it has the most undesirable driving position of the earlier model, it costs the same to run, and it’s treated to more creature comforts as standard, safer and doesn’t weigh an awful lot more.
You’re expecting me to answer my own question, but I can’t. I can’t put my finger on it, but DTURBO went from being the car of the hooligan who wanted to be a little sensible, to the sensible hooligans car, and there is quite a difference. Whether the glass is clouded by the fact everybody now produces a “hot diesel”, whether the 306 was getting a bit long in the tooth in the end, or simply it just looks a little bit more grown up with less “205 GTi influence” I’ve got no idea, this isn’t to detract from it as a good car. But Peugeot, like the us all, couldn’t recreate the magic of that first kiss. C’est l’vie.
Some magic Peugeot did manage to create though was a lively economical common-rail diesel engine, now there are lots of things online that’ll explain a common rail engine negating the need for me to do it, as frankly unless you’re a bit of a nerd like me it’s not that interesting. However HDi is a cracking engine, again it shows it’s age now with a relatively pitiful 90bhp out of a 2.0 turbo-diesel (considering you can now get 1.6 TD engines with this power,) however it feels perfectly nimble in the 306, albeit with the typical diesel nature of a rubbish first gear, poor “off the line” acceleration and sounding like a minicab. 50+MPG is easily managed “on a run”, serving was extended to 10,000 miles (not something I’m fond of on a diesel engine,) and compared to the next generation of common-rail engines, it maintains quite good reliability, clean oil and a good thrashing being the order of the day.
The engine itself is common, being fitted across the PSA range to this day, along with it’s offspring the co-developed TDCi (DW) engines with Ford, so no mechanic will mind working on one, and parts are reasonably priced. It’s a great engine to live with, a few wobbles are reported with the crankshaft pulleys, but apart from that no major faults are reported with the engine.
Peugeot however failed miserably in solving the problems that tarnished the original 306 by painstakingly failing to rectify each common fault that affected the rest of the car. The door looms continue to wreak havoc, the door check straps suddenly “snap” one day, wonky air-conditioning and frayed seats. Nothing impossible to solve, but it is a bit of a kick in the teeth considering Peugeot had nearly a decade’s worth of practice at building 306’s by this stage. It maintained its sexy styling though, and it’s ability to not rust when left out in the damp, which is still something Ford, Vauxhall and VW hadn’t cracked by 2000.
The cabin is relatively spacious, and is about as "big as it looks from the outside" the three door (better looking.... !?) models have long front doors. It is cramped in the back however, but not impossible to seat people in the back.
Other than the spectacular fuel economy and reasonable performance, running a 306 DTURBO should be a fairly cheap exercise, due to it’s “diesel image” insurance prices were kept low (Group 5) putting it a group below a basic 1.25 Fiesta to insure, tax is high on “old system” cars, but easily offset by relaxed insurance prices and terrific fuel economy.
Driving, well it maintains the exceptional chassis of the original, torsion bar rear suspension offering a pretty maintenance free ownership experience, passive rear wheel steer (you’ll notice it the first time you take a roundabout enthusiastically) and standard McPherson derived suspension on the front, simple, excpeptionally nimble and still credited as one of the best handling mass market cars on the roads. It maintains a dynamic driving experience through the lightly assisted steering, heavy clutch and low stance. The gearbox is a little on the "stiring paint" side, but nowhere near as offensive as a similar aged Vauxhall 'box.
There are no other cars that offer sporty looks, class leading handling, good performance, 50mpg, good reliability and cheap insurance in the price range, don’t even bother looking.
ABS, four airbags and improved side impact bars give the car a good feeling of being safe, however the marginal brakes won’t. They’re not poor, but they’re not up to the standards of the majority of cars of the time, and certainly will come as a surprise to those used to driving more heavily braked vehicles. The dynamic and involving drive is spolied by poor rubber, and the 306 is nose heavy, tyres should be paid attention too, and will wear with great gusto on a car driven hard.
It’s not a perfect car, however it will be regarded as a good looking car for all eternity, it costs buttons to run and unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll ever see cars of it’s ilk again.