1998 Peugeot 306 GLX 1.8 16v petrol from UK and Ireland
Great car, but fragile and unreliable
Stereo died twice.
Terrible radio reception.
Remote stalk stopped working.
Central locking plipper key disintegrated.
Engine blew up suddenly on the motorway at 45,000 resulting in a UKP3000 bill!
2 oil leaks.
Gearbox horrible when cold.
Battery kept going flat intermittently.
Heater control illumination failed.
This is a lovely car to drive. It handles like a hot hatch and the 1.8 litre engine is lively and very sweet. It also has great steering with loads of weight and feel.
However, it's all let down by shocking reliability. Most of it has been trivial things (everything to do with the stereo for instance), and a few duff bulbs.
More worrying though was a major mechanical failure at 45,000 miles. I was driving along the motorway with 3,000 RPM on the clock when suddenly it coughed and seized solid. Temp gauge was reading normally (80 degrees C) and all levels had been checked the same day. Turns out the head gasket had let go and dumped all the water out, but the gauge hadn't picked up the temperature increase.
The head was banana shaped and the bottom end had been shock loaded when it went from 3k to zero in a nanosecond. A complete new top end was fitted to a rebuilt bottom end for a dealership bill just shy of £3,000!! It runs okay now, although now leaks oil from the cam cover, and has been "fixed" twice. And it still leaks.
The clutch also gave up a week later after groaning and moaning for a few days. This also left me stranded. The new clutch hasn't improved the gearbox either which is horribly recalcitrant first thing in the morning.
The stereo is a joke. It sounds great, but if you catch it working, you're doing well. It won't pick up Capital FM cleanly on the M25 (!) and the code system went wrong, locking out the unit completely when the correct code was entered. This still hasn't been fixed! Also the column stalk controlling the volume and stations lost its functions one by one, until it died completely. This has been fixed apparently, but until the stereo itself works, I can't test it! Oh and when the plipper key button fell out, it was £85 + VAT for a replacement!
Somewhere in here is a great car. However, there can be no excuse for such shoddy engineering and build quality. Dynamically, the 306 wipes the floor with the competition, but I drive it just waiting for something else to go wrong. I also dread the £70 an hour bill from the dealer to put things right.
Much as I like the car itself, I couldn't honestly recommend it.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 11th January, 2002
I wrote the above review and can now add the following faults in just 3 months:
Engine kept cutting out when idling - dealer couldn't find fault and kept returning the car. By chance spoke to a friend with a similar car who had the same problem. When we told the dealer what it was, they eventually fixed it.
Airbag warning light now blinks continually.
Stalling problem has returned suddenly and now worse than ever.
Tappets are getting noisy.
Gearbox has developed an irritating whine between 3,000 and 4,000 RPM (right in the motorway cruising zone)
Offside front indicator intermittently refuses to work.
A total dog of a car - my patience has now run out!
I can honestly say that the 1.8 GLX ('98 on) is probably one of the best, but yet most annoying cars I have ever owned! The performance, handling, layout and features are probably the best in it's class - with poor reliability. If you know a good garage or mechanic, the parts are relatively inexpensive and an absolute doddle to fit - compared with the 306's competitors. A truly excellent car to mod as well - many modifications available (again, at reasonable cost), without the expense of buying the GTi-6. I owned the GLX from 1999 - 2003, putting around 50,000 miles on the clock - in total spending about £2,000 (admittedly most when it had it's 1st MOT) to maintain the car (this includes all parts/labour, tyres, etc etc) - which I would consider a reasonable spend for a four year period. The choice is yours, but be aware what can go wrong, and remember the golden rule: shop around and bargain for best prices!