1998 Peugeot 306 XSi 2.0 16v petrol from UK and Ireland
Wolf, well more of a bit of a hound, in sheep's clothing
Remote key flaky.
Fuel pipe leak.
This car is not right. I mean 306's in their droves are driven by those who use their cars for shopping, or for displaying their latest handywork in the form of a croched cushion; usually at 50mph in the middle lane of the M3.
Thankfully, it's not as girly as the Clio, because what lies beneath the 'street sleeper' exterior will make you want to come back for more - providing you take lots of corners in it.
Sure, the shopping trolley, docile characteristics are evident at low speed, the taught suspension and excellent feedback accompanied by the throaty exhaust note are the only real giveaways to its sporty capability. And plenty of room to take myself (at 6 feet) and swallow the golf clubs in the boot with relative ease.
Of course, also translates into the car having not even the power to see off lesser minions such as XR3i's and some GTi's below 2500 rpm. But spin the motor up above 3000rpm - to around 5000rpm and the once dozing fairground mules under the bonnet turn into true, snarling thoroughbreds. Not grand national winners make no mistake, but certainly enough to show the Golf GTi a clean pair of heels.
The chassis handles the power with ease, and even after modifying my engine to 150BHP, added Toyo tyres and Tar Ox brakes, it's still lapping up the corners as if on ice skates. I say ice skates because the squat configuration of the car means cornering is best left to those who like to slide their cars. Take a corner too fast and the front pushes slightly, let the throttle go, let the back come round and stamp on the loud pedal. Loads of grip, and it lets go with gently with plenty of warning.
Build quality however, is sadly typically French. Rattles have started to appear in places that really shouldn't rattle - the driver's window being the source of many scarey moments at motorway speeds with the window opens slightly. My speedo died, the rev counter could have done with a prescription of Viagra and my fuel and oil gauges were so upset by it all, they came out in sympathy. 2 mins with the soldering iron and a burnt finger (not from the iron, I was smoking and dropped my tab) and they all sprang into life, but it shouldn't happen to your Grandma should it?
Running costs are good for this type of car - the levels of grip generated by the chassis means tyre life is good, fuel is 35ish to the gallon, much better on the motorway, but it did drink oil until I changed it for Mobil 1 fully synthetic - only recommended for engines in good condition but it's done the trick.
Finally, servicing. 9000 miles for every service means I'm in my local Peugeot dealer every 6 months, which is far too often if you ask me. The fact the service manager is developing a new form of fungi under his armpits is not my main gripe, it's the prices accompanied with the long waiting times and the fact that if you want your car serviced on a Saturday when you don't need the car you can forget it, I'm not overly excited about the prospect.
On closing I'd just like to say to all the mechanics out there, stay open on a Saturday, when most men are trying to avoid an afternoon of shopping with their girlfriends eh? You'll be rated up there with gods like Jack Daniels, McDonalds, and Mr Playstation. We are not worthy.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 20th November, 2000
Are you a journo??? This is a great review, and reads just like it came off the pages of Max Power, Revs or Evo.
The review managed to correlate all the whispers I'd heard on the 16V SXi. Although tempered with caution as to the build quality I think it might be my Vauxhall's demise into the free ads.
-good review, cheers.