BY ANDY ENRIGHT
As if to prove the fact that car buyers don't care a fig about what motoring writers churn out, Peugeot's 206 keeps on selling by the boatload despite getting rather mixed reviews. Launched in 1998 and now feeling rather long in the tooth, its cheeky looks still find favour with the UK public. Halfway through its life, the choice of models was widened with the addition of the 206CC open-top and the model we examine here, the 206 SW compact estate. With so many sold, finding a decent used example shouldn't prove too taxing.
Models Covered: (5 DR ESTATE 1.1, 1.4, 1.4 16V, 1.6, 2.0 PETROL, 1.4, 1.6, 2.0 HDI DIESEL [XL, XT, S, STYLE, XSI, QUIKSILVER, SI, VERVE, DTURBO])
The Peugeot 206 had already been on sale for four years before the SW was launched in May 2002. It wasn't as if sales were flagging in any way as the 206 was at the time, the UK's best selling car amongst private buyers. Rather the driver for the 206SW and its sibling the 307SW was the fact that bar the rather utilitarian Partner Combi, Peugeot had no 'lifestyle' alternatives to the burgeoning crop of mini-MPV and supermini-MPV cars that were starting to sell in serious numbers. Launched with a wide variety of engines and trims, the 206SW thankfully resisted the temptation to cram seven seats into its compact body. A revision wasn't long in coming, the trim structure changing in October 2003. Out went the XL and the XT trim levels to be replaced by Style and S derivatives. A Quiksilver version was also announced to tie in with the skate and surfwear manufacturer of the same name. The SW was also treated to a mild facelift that ran to the tune of a honeycomb grille, the obligatory clear headlight lenses and a bigger chromed Peugeot lion badge on the back. Uniform coloured rear light lenses were also introduced. In early 2004 Peugeot deleted the range-topping 2.0-litre petrol engine from the 206SW line up. The range was reduced to one trim level (Verve) in mid 2005 with only the 1.4 and 1.6 petrol and HDi diesel engines offered.
What You Get
From the windscreen pillars forwards you won't notice any difference over an ordinary 206 hatchback, the SW retaining the familiar feline face of any conventional 206 but from the door pillar back being completely restyled. With black pillars, side mouldings and roof rails, the SW certainly stands out, the elongated shape giving the car an elegant line. Aping the Alfa 156, the rear door handles are incorporated into the rear door pillars helping to keep the profile clean. The styling at the back is equally adept with light clusters that wrap round the rearmost pair of windows and then stretch right up to roof height. The tailgate sits indented between twin rubbing strips and you'll spot a distinctly unusual curve to the rear window. A neat rooftop spoiler incorporates a central brake light. Designed with practicality in mind, the 206 SW incorporates a number of thoughtful features. The tailgate contains a rear window that can be independently opened and closed - a boon in tight spots. It also comes into its own if you need to transport very long items, being a safer option than driving with the entire tailgate open. This window can be opened from the key fob while the interior of the tailgate itself features a moulded handle so you won't have to get your mitts dirty by grabbing hold of the paintwork. Another trend that Peugeot have chosen to pass on is the creation of estates that carry less than their hatch or saloon progenitors. The 206 SW's load area measures 313 litres to the top of the load cover, which is a useful 76 litres more than the 206 hatch. To make things more convenient still, the loading lip is a full 106mm lower. If you really want to pile 'em high and stack the 206 SW to the roof level, you'll get a massive 480 litres of loading capacity. The load bay is well proportioned too, with minimal ingress from items like suspension turrets. A sturdy load cover, luggage nets and bag hooks ensure that your load arrives safe and sound
What You Pay
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What to Look For
The 206 interior isn't the most durable and you should check that all the electrical parts are working correctly. Multiplex wiring means that some electrical gremlins are difficult to diagnose. Seat adjusters are known to become loose and rattle and you should also check the condition of the spare wheel and tyre as these can become damaged.
(based on a 206 SW 1.4 with air con & power steering ex Vat) A clutch assembly is around £100. Front brake pads are around £35, rear brake shoes around £37, a full exhaust about £265, a starter motor about £100 and an alternator around £145. A replacement headlamp is about £60.
On the Road
Built at Peugeot's high-tech production facility at Ryton, near Coventry, the 206 SW is generally found with a choice of four petrol engines and two HDi turbodiesel units. All of the engines will be familiar to anybody reasonably well acquainted with the 206 line up. The petrol units open with the 60bhp 1.1-litre powerplant, followed by an economical 75bhp 1.4-litre unit and a 90bhp 16-valve 1.4-litre with variable valve timing, whilst the most popular petrol engine is the 110bhp 1.6-litre. Diesel customers are well catered for by a 90bhp 2.0-litre HDi unit and a 68bhp 1.4-litre HDi engine which displays remarkable fuel economy. This engine is the result of a partnership between PSA Peugeot Citroen and Ford and is a state of the art common rail direct injection unit that uses a tiny turbocharger to help plump up the torque ad power figures. It's an incredibly compact powerplant that houses the air filter, airflow sensor, turbo silencer, air intake distributor, diesel filtration system and the cylinder head cover within the air intake. In the 206 SW it's enough to propel the car to 60mph in 14.4 seconds and on to a top speed of over 103mph. More importantly, the 64.2mpg average fuel return is exemplary, helped by the fact that at 70mph the engine is turning over at a mere 2700rpm. Peugeot have ignored the current trend for designing cars with a wheel at each corner in the development of the 206 SW, the designers grafting an additional 19.3cm of length onto the overhang behind the rear wheels. This would seem to be a perfect recipe for creating a car with the biggest behind since the AMC Pacer but the 206 SW wears it well. If you'd been pressed to identify where the changes had been made, most would point to the fact that the 206 SW is stretched in the wheelbase, but break out a tape measure and the 2442mm distance from front to rear hubs is identical to the 206 hatchback.
Small estates became deeply unfashionable during the nineties and the Peugeot 206SW isn't special enough to force a rehabilitation. There are many more modern and enjoyable rivals about but buyers can't get enough of the 206's cheeky styling and Peugeot's reputation for building quality tots. The 2.0-litre HDi diesel version represents the best of the bunch if you've got your heart set on the 206SW.