Peugeot 306 Range
|Production||2.846 million units 1993–2002|
|Class||Small family car|
|Body style||3/5-door hatchback 4-door saloon 5-door estate 2-door cabriolet|
|Transmission||4-speed automatic 5-speed manual 6-speed manual|
|Related||Citroën Xsara Citroën ZX|
The Peugeot 306 is a small family car built by the French car manufacturer Peugeot from 1993 to 2002 replacing the 309. Peugeot gave the 306 many updates and aesthetic changes to keep up the competition but it was replaced by the 307 in 2001. Cabriolet and estate versions continued until 2002. Versions were built in Argentina by Sevel (1996-2002).
The 306 was developed between 1990 and 1992 ready for 1993. It was a replacement for the Peugeot 309 (which had broken with Peugeot's normal ascending numbering system partly due to it being released before the older and larger Peugeot 305 was axed).
Mechanically, the 306 is virtually identical to the Citroën ZX, which was launched two years before the 306: both cars use the same floorpan and core structure. The 306, with its attractive Peugeot 205 derived Pininfarina styling, was a more successful car than its twin. The Citroën Berlingo and Peugeot Partner were also built on the same platform. The chassis used by the 306 and ZX was also used in the ZX's replacement, the Citroën Xsara. The sharing of platforms between Peugeot and Citroën has been parent company PSA Peugeot Citroën policy since the late 1970s, after the Peugeot takeover of the then bankrupt Citroen in the wake of the 1974 oil crisis. The first car being the Peugeot 104 based Citroën Visa and Citroën LNA and Talbot Samba. The policy continues today throughout the Peugeot and Citroën ranges. The entry level Peugeot 107, Citroën C1 and Toyota Aygo though are a Toyota Design, rather than a PSA one.
Petrol engines: 1.1L 8V 60 PS (44 kW; 59 hp) I4 1.4L 8V 75 PS (55 kW; 74 hp) I4 1.6L 8V 90 PS (66 kW; 89 hp) I4 1.8L 8V 103 PS (76 kW; 102 hp) I4 2.0L 8V 123 PS (90 kW; 121 hp) I4 XSi 2.0L 16V 157 PS (115 kW; 155 hp) I4 S16 2.0L 16V 167 PS (123 kW; 165 hp) I4 GTi-6
The 306 was released in March 1993 as a 3- and 5-door hatchback, with saloon, cabriolet and estate models being introduced later. The estate version was branded as the sw, for "station wagon". The Phase 1 model was known as the N3 in Australia, and introduced in 1994.
A bewildering array of different model types were offered during the life of the Phase 1 model, including Genoa, XSS, X, XT, XRdt and Xd. Later were added various 'performance' models, such as the S16, XSi and GTI-6 (petrol) and the D-Turbo S (diesel).
All variants of the 306, with the exception of the GTI-6 and cabriolet models, were priced very competitively.
The initial petrol engines used were proven four-cylinder units, which had gained a solid reputation in Peugeot models such as the 205, 309 and 405. At first, all mainstream models were powered by derivatives of the TU series 8-valve engine, in 1.1, 1.4 and 1.6 litre guises. The 1.1 was dropped quickly, but the 1.4 and particularly the 1.6 variants sold well; the latter offering a good balance between performance and economy.
Three larger-capacity units were available, but restricted to automatic and performance models. These engines were developments of the larger XU series units which had been used in the 205 GTi 1.9, and larger 405 models. A 1.8 litre version powered cars with both manual (not many 1.8 manuals were produced) and automatic transmission; while two versions of the 2.0 litre engine in 8- and 16-valve guises powered the XSi and S16 models respectively. In Australia, the only engines available were the 1.8 and 2.0L engines.
Peugeot had an excellent reputation for its diesel engines and the 306 was originally offered with the XUD series diesel engine in both normally aspirated and turbocharged forms. This engine was initially a 1769cc unit, but its capacity was soon enlarged to 1905cc. The turbocharged version quickly gained a reputation for being a good match for the exceptional handling of the 306. Not only did its outright performance match many similarly sized petrol cars – almost certainly a first for an affordable mainstream diesel – but the carefully designed installation ensured its considerable extra weight did not upset the car's handling. The Indirect Injection XUD Diesel that uses the Ricardo Comet combustion chamber design, is popular for conversion to run on vegetable oil, so long as the Bosch Fuel System is fitted to the engine.
The familiar range of PSA powertrains drove the front wheels of a seemingly conventionally designed chassis. At the front was a standard McPherson strut layout with anti-roll bar, while the rear used the PSA Peugeot-Citroën fully independent trailing arm/torsion bar set up that was first introduced on the Peugeot 305 estate. However, PSA's chassis engineers employed some unusual features, including passive rear wheel steering, though less than on the ZX, (by means of specially designed compliance bushes in the rear suspension), and in-house developed and constructed shock absorbers. At high mileages this is prone to wear of the axle mounting bushes which is easily fixed. It is also prone to wear in the rear axle trailing arm bearings, which then wear the trailing arm axle tubes, requiring an expensive rebuild or a replacement axle assembly.The diesel and larger capacity petrol engines are canted as far back as possible in the engine bay, in an effort to put as much weight as possible behind the front axle line, also reducing the centre of gravity, while improving weight distribution and minimising understeer.
Contrary to popular myth no full production Peugeot model has ever been galvanised, but the 306 benefits from a zinc phorescent paint-primer process, which has significantly improved corrosion resistance.
Trim levels were XN, XL, XR, XT and XS; XN being the most basic, and XT the highest specification. The XT was available in 5-door only, with the XR, XN and XL available in 3-door too. The D-Turbo and XSi were available in both 3- and 5-door, the XS and S16 only available in 3-door. There were no longer "X/G" designations ("X" indicating a 3-door, "G" indicating a 5-door). A diesel model could be identified with the addition of "d" after the spec level, and a turbodiesel with the addition of "dt". There were special edition versions too, badged "Alpine" from 1994. (3-door only).
Sedan specification was marked as SN, SL, SR, and ST. The sedan model, for many motorists provided an alternative to the domination of the car markets by hatchbacks and was hailed at the time by Jeremy Clarkson amongst others.
The sedan model was compared by British motoring magazine What Car? as being an inferior "Brother" to the Peugeot 405, but this is not true to a certain extent, the 306 had a more sophisticated suspension design, and the build quality was significantly better.
This model was on sale until 2002 in European markets, but it was scrapped in 1999 for the United Kingdom market.
Peugeot created a D-Turbo "hot hatch" version, which was essentially a petrol XS model with the diesel unit installed. The 306 was not the first mainstream affordable performance diesel, with that plaudit arguably going to the MkII VW Golf GTD (not sold in the UK) of the mid-1980s. However, the 306 D-turbo was the first to be commercially successful and sell in significant numbers, and this success effectively created the market for such performance oriented diesel cars. It was a popular seller in all its various phases throughout the life of the car. Most D-Turbo had 3 doors but there are a few rare examples of 5-door D-Turbo.
The D-Turbo and XS variants were fitted as standard with front fog lights, body-coloured bumpers with deeper spoilers, sports seats and different steering wheel, and a wider, chromed exhaust tailpipe; 14-inch alloy wheels were an optional extra. The models fitted somewhere between the XR and XT variants in terms of standard equipment.
The XSi 8v 2.0 Petrol had the addition of subtle side skirts and the optional extra of 15-inch five spoke alloy wheels. These became standard shortly after.
The S16 was replaced with the more powerful GTI-6 in 1996. It had more power courtesy of a reworked engine, a close-ratio 6-speed gearbox and some subtle chassis revisions.The GTI-6 engine was more flexible than that in the S16, and the new gearbox made it easier to use the engine more effectively.
Petrol engines: 1.4L 8V 75 PS (55 kW; 74 hp) I4 1.6L 8V 90 PS (66 kW; 89 hp) I4 1.8L 16V 110 PS (81 kW; 110 hp) I4 2.0L 16V 136 PS (100 kW; 134 hp) I4 XSi 2.0L 16V 167 PS (123 kW; 165 hp) I4 GTi-6
The 306 underwent the only major revamp of its life in May 1997, with the launch of the "Phase 2" version (N5 in Australia). The basic shape remained the same, but lights, grille and bumpers were redesigned in an effort to bring the styling into line with the new, more rounded, Peugeot family look established with the Peugeot 406. Indicator lamps were now incorporated into the headlamp unit and the new style "block filled" Peugeot lion logo was adopted.
A new-style typeface for the car's model number was adopted on the tailgate, removing the black plastic backing. There were also some changes to the dashboard layout, including a digital odometer, and trim quality which freshened up the car in the face of increasingly stiff competition from other manufacturers. New engines were also offered, with both 1.8 and 2.0 petrol engines gaining 16-valve cylinder heads together with modest power increases. At this time, the previous trim designations were replaced by L, LX & GLX for the UK market. XS, XSi and GTI-6 models continued as before.
Cars from 1998 onwards received further enhancements, including an aluminium-effect centre console on certain versions and a chrome Peugeot logo on the steering wheel. Other updates included removal of the black strip on the bootlid and colour-coded bumpers on some models and new upholstery in the cabin.
New models also appeared in Phase 2 trim. The Rallye was launched using the mechanicals from the GTI-6, but with less standard equipment (manual windows and mirrors, no air-con, cloth instead of leather and alcantara, front spot lights removed), making it 65 kg (143 lb) lighter than the GTI-6. It only came in three colours - black, cherry red and white - and there were only 500 produced, all of which for the UK market. The only drawback is the insurance costs as the Rallye is in group 16.
The Meridian model (originally a special edition) was also re-launched in 1999 and boasted a generous equipment list including new half-leather seats, and further cosmetic upgrades to the interior.
Petrol engines: 1.4L 8V 75 PS (55 kW; 74 hp) I4 1.6L 8V 100 PS (74 kW; 99 hp) I4 1.8L 16V 110 PS (81 kW; 110 hp) I4 2.0L 16V 136 PS (100 kW; 134 hp) I4 XSi 2.0L 16V 136 PS (100 kW; 134 hp) I4 XT 2.0L 16V 155 PS (114 kW; 153 hp) I4 S16 2.0L 16V 167 PS (123 kW; 165 hp) I4 GTi-6
XS, XSi, XT and D Turbo models all received the GTi-6's bodykit and interior styling additions. In the diesel variants, the ageing XUD engine was replaced by the newer, more refined HDi engine, which featured common rail injection. Some base models made use of the DW8 normally aspirated diesel engine. Almost all models included ABS and multiple airbags as standard equipment. Rain sensitive automatic windscreen wipers were also standard on all but the base spec.
The end of the line
Despite Peugeot's efforts, the car placed poorly in a variety of ownership and customer satisfaction surveys of the time, such as the annual JD Power surveywhich was run in association with the BBC Top Gear television programme. Nevertheless the car featured in Top 10 Best Selling Cars in Britain from 1994 to 1998, and only narrowly missing out on the top 10 during its final three years on sale.
Sales in France and most of the rest of Europe were also strong.
The hatchback 306 was discontinued in 2001 to make way for its replacement, the Peugeot 307. The cabriolet and estate variants both remained on sale until 2002. The slow-selling saloon was axed from the UK in 1999, however was still available in the rest of Europe until 2002.