Peugeot 206

6 May, 2003 12:18pm Patrick Claret

People deal with a mid-life crisis in many different ways. Some will splash out on a sports car or holiday of a lifetime. Others will ditch their wardrobe, change their careers or take up line-dancing. And if they're still not satisfied with their born-again lifestyle, they'll consider plastic surgery.

Verdict

There's no denying Peugeot has played it safe with the 206 facelift, and we feel the new look could have been more dramatic. The same wheeltrims and door mirrors remain, even though these would have been cheap to replace. Meanwhile, the firm is working on a new trim level range for August. We'd say wait until then to buy, as the facelift is minimal.
People deal with a mid-life crisis in many different ways. Some will splash out on a sports car or holiday of a lifetime. Others will ditch their wardrobe, change their careers or take up line-dancing. And if they're still not satisfied with their born-again lifestyle, they'll consider plastic surgery.

That's Peugeot's way of dealing with a mid-life crisis, too. Launched in 1998, the 206 rapidly became a huge success, thanks in no small part to its fresh, fashionable styling. Five years on, it's still Britain's most popular car among private buyers, so the Lion has decided to opt for the mildest of facelifts.

That said, we'd rather Peugeot had pushed the boat out a little further. While the 206 certainly doesn't look dated, the past few years have seen many new supermini rivals, and it has lost ground to the Ford Fiesta, Honda Jazz and Citroen C3. On the outside the newcomer has fresh clear front lights and different rear clusters, while upmarket models also get a sporty mesh front grille. New side repeater lamps, chrome badges and a fresh range of colours complete the picture. Interior revisions are also subtle, with plusher fabrics and softer plastics. Equipment is enhanced across the range, and all the changes will also appear in SW and CC versions of the 206, although the SW retains its original rear lights.

On the road, the car behaves no differently to its predecessor. It is fun to drive, with excellent handling and surprisingly sporty steering. Engine choices are identical, with entry-level cars using the tried-and-tested 1.1-litre unit. The 1.4 and 1.6, plus 2.0-litre GTi range-topper, complete the petrol picture, while diesel models include a 70bhp 1.4, plus 90 and 110bhp 2.0 HDI motors. Our pick of the lot is the 110bhp HDi, which combines perky performance with excellent economy and low insurance. So will the 206's sales success continue? Certainly, the new line-up offers more equipment and better value than before, while the mild restyle won't do any harm. But in an increasingly competitive market, Peugeot will have to work hard to keep the car at the top of the private sales charts.

Key specs

* Facelifted 206, here this month
* Prices remain unchanged
* All trim levels improved

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