1998 Peugeot 306 GLX 1.8 16v from UK and Ireland
More fun than an Astra or Golf, and prettier too!
Clutch noisy and excessively sharp - needs replacement at 42,000 miles. Most of the last keeper's mileage was in central London though.
Steering column control stalk for the (excellent) stereo is a bit temperamental since the car was serviced.
Although it will be better when the few niggling problems are sorted, the 306 is a great car to drive. It also still looks good too - vastly prettier in my opinion than its replacement, the van-like 307.
The 1.8 litre 16 valve engine is sweet, responsive, and delivers warm-hatch like performance. Thanks to the engine's refinement and a fairly tall fifth gear, the car is also capable of relaxed motorway cruising, being quiet and smooth at any remotely legal motorway speed. Fuel consumption is also good, averaging 30 mpg around town, and nudging 40 mpg on a run.
Steering is typically Peugeot - fast, full of feel and with just the right level of assistance. It gives you confidence when pressing on, and allows you to place the car millimetre perfect on the road.
The best thing about this car however, is the chassis. In GLX trim, the car is obviously set up for a comfortable ride rather than ultimate handling ability, but even so the balance of the car at the limit is deeply impressive and in a completely different league to most comparably priced cars.
Just like the XSi and GTI-6 models, you can induce lift off oversteer to help the car turn in, and the pointy steering and sheer balance of the car shame a lot of so called sports cars. The downside is that the car will bite you in the form of a spin if you're careless with it, but to be fair, you need to be pushing quite hard for this to become an issue. In any case I think it is much safer than the wash-out understeer you get in something like a Vauxhall Astra.
The GLX trim level comes well specced, with four electric windows, power steering, a basic, but effective climate control system, rain sensing wipers (good in theory but thoroughly irritating in practice!) and an excellent radio cassette with 6 disc CD changer and a stalk remote control. There are also a pair of nicely trimmed seats, which have a good range of adjustment - I'm 6'2", and my wife is 5'3" and we can both find a comfortable driving position.
The single worst aspect of the interior is the awful fake plastic wood which adorns the dash. I know this was dropped in later models for a much nicer silver effect, but buyers of this vintage of 306 beware! Overall though, the interior is pleasant enough, and the oft-heard gripes about 306 build quality seem to be unfounded. At 42,000 miles, and despite obvious neglect from its previous keeper, the interior cleans up almost as new, nothing squeaks or rattles, and everything except the stereo stalk works properly.
In my opinion, this is a good looking, quick-ish, well equipped, hatchback which offers a good dose of fun to boot. The dealers can be a bit hopeless at times, and the car is obsolete, but I can't think of a car in this class which looks as good, handles as well and is as much fun to drive. Especially impressive when most of the competition is a lot newer!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 25th July, 2001