As an owner of a Peugeot 205, the 206 has always interested me ever since I got my little Pug. I’ve only ever driven a 206 Roland Garros – a posh special edition – and that was when the car was new a decade ago, so I haven’t had a clear comparison to how they stack up next to each other. As this black example of a cheap 206 GTi popped up for sale, I wanted to go over and have a look. Could it capture some of the 205 feel, or would it be an unjust comparison to begin with?
The initial problem with the 206 is that it isn’t a 205. Thing is, no other car than a 205 is a 205. The first two numbers and the “GTi” add-on mean the 206 GTi travels on dangerous ground. Peugeot couldn’t really replace the 205, so they brought in the 106 as a smaller, somewhat overlapping replacement and kept making the 205 as long as it was in any way viable. The 106 grew old and uncompetitive, so another replacement had to be ushered in, and about that time Peugeot’s design language and general demeanour had grown up to favour the more ballooned and stretched look, just like the 307 that followed the ’90s 306. That is an another can of worms that eventually led to the all-face, no-trousers 407, but it’s fairly obvious they couldn’t keep making the 205-306-405 set forever. You know they tried.