For the Live To Drive Legends we have a car that was never intended to set the world on fire with its pace nor its power. The Peugeot 106 Rallye, the 106 Rallye came from a time when Peugeot was trying to follow up its greatest hits of the 205 & 309 GTi models with faster and more powerful machinery. Instead of giving us the follow up album we wanted we got such heavyweights as the 306 GTi and its even heavier sibling the 306 GTi convertible, an analogy of this shift in direction would be like Metallica making an experimental album with Lou Reed, of all the people, this was a turn in the wrong direction if ever there was one.
The 106 was the bottom rung of Peugeot ownership back in the late 1990’s, they made some shit versions of it, thankfully though they made the GTi model which possessed a rampaging 120bhp. Below this the model range turned to absolute shit, the 1.4 litre XS model with its wheezing 73bhp motor was the best you could get, this is like saying that turd is better than the other turds. Thankfully Peugeot has an epiphany, why not offer a warm model below the GTi that’s not shit.
Look at me, I'm a super lightweight sports car I am, I am, I really am
In 1993 the Peugeot 106 Rallye was born, powered by a tiny 1.3 litre 4-pot motor producing a reasonable 98bhp at a screaming 7,200rpm, that may not sound like a lot of power I hear you say, what you don’t know is that the 106 Rallye made good use of this power by having a kerbweight of only 825kgs, think of it as a mini Peugeot Superleggera, the central locking and electric windows, in the bin along with alloy wheels, in their place was a strange thing called using your arm to wind down the window, follow by walking around the car to unlock both doors, finally the heavy alloy wheels were replaced by fantastic looking white painted steelies which set off the 106 Rallye in the looks department.
All of this weight saving means that the 106 Rallye could achieve the 0-60 sprint in sub 9-seconds, it may not sound quick by today’s standards but coupled with nimble chassis Peugeot developed, this was a great little package. The most astonishing thing about all the less is more policy, the 106 Rallye was priced under the 106 GTi, unlike today’s super lightweight cars, where the policy is bin everything that weighs more than tissue paper and charge a ton more for it, I’m sure it also says on the door as you get in, “driver must have emptied bowels before driving” as this would clearly add to the weight savings.
The first-gen Rallye was followed up by the revised second-gen version; the recipe stayed pretty much the same aside from the motor being swapped for a 1.6-litre unit producing a nimble 103bhp.
The 106 Rallye from behind, the only view I ever got when attempting to chase one down
In fact in certain markets such as Greece for some reason, the 106 Rallye was equipped with the 120bhp motor from the GTi model, no idea why, but kudos to you if you have one of these and live in Greece as we are jealous of you.
Back at some point in the late 1990’s I possessed a weapon of a car in the form of a Ford Fiesta RS Turbo, it was cool because it had the word Turbo written on the back accompanied by green stripes around the bodywork, I’d stupidly upped the power to 175bhp via a chip upgrade and lowered it by almost 3cm’s all round because I thought I could do a better job than Ford themselves, turns out I was wrong. During a drive to meet up with other car people known back then as a ‘Cruise’.
I came up behind a 106 Rallye, sensing we both going to the same destination we decided to resort to what you would refer to as ‘spirited’ driving, no silly messing around with overtaking as the English B-road would have tried to kill both of us had we tried, I gave chase with my weight penalty and my horsepower and handling advantage filling me with confidence, the results were somewhat surprising, on the straights I was all over the little 106 Rallye scampering its way forward at pace, in the corners though I was slain by the little Pug as it literally took me apart and tore me a new one, I simply couldn’t keep up in the twisties, the little 106 would be close in front, enter a series of bends and I’d exit them several seconds behind having lost out to the 106 Rallye’s superior handling set-up. I did later confirm with the 106 driver that his car was completely stock aside from an exhaust box which he admitted likely lost him a few horsepower, basically, I got humiliated by a less powerful and more nimble car.
So when you think of Peugeot, remember their greatest hits like the 106 Rallye and not the prog-rock, gospel choir, dolphin noise enhanced shit they make now.