Peugeot 106 Rallye S1: Spotted

No-one could teach Peugeot anything about superminis in the early 90s. The 205 was ten years old, but still so perfectly formed that Sochaux had barely fiddled with the exterior. Of course it spawned the coolest and prettiest hot hatch of them all - but even the lowliest versions didn't short change anyone. It was the definitive B-segment smash: stylish, fun, uncomplicated and cheap. 

It was so successful that Peugeot attempted to repeat the trick without going through the unnerving business of actually replacing it. Ostensibly the 106's predecessor was the 104 - but it was the lessons learnt with the 205 which informed the development of the new entry-level model, based as it was on much the same platform. The evolutionary attitude was plain enough in the way the Series I cars looked, too: the 205's 80s chic receiving only the most sympathetic of 90s tweaks. 

Some trim designations crossed over, as well - but not the GTI badge, which was preserved for the 205 until the 205 version went out of production in 1993. Instead, and in keeping with its low-cost ethos, the quicker 106 was offered as an XSi - or a Rallye. The latter had history aplenty with the 205, despite never being sold in the UK in its bonafide format. On the continent, Peugeot had shifted 30,000 - and no wonder: the model combined the GTI's suspension with a feisty 102hp 1.3-litre engine (on twin Weber carbs) and just 794kg of kerbweight. 

Being uninclined to fix something which plainly wasn't broken - and with its eye on international rallying - the pre-facelift version of the 106, the Series 1, essentially repeated the 'fewer frills, more thrills' formula. Its chassis shared much with the slightly older XSi, although the Rallye benefitted from a larger anti-roll bar at the back and Peugeot (anticipating heavy-handed treatment) reinforced the front suspension mounts. 

The engine - the short-lived TU2 J2 - is a confirmed peach. An evolution of the TU24 unit which had powered the 205 version, the 1,294cc 8-valve motor had swapped out its carburettors for the better efficiency of Magnetti Marelli fuel injection, but with 100hp at 7200rpm and a close ratio five-speed 'box, its raucousness barely sustained a dent. And with only 825kg to overcome, the Rallye had that uncanny fast supermini way of feeling massively quicker than 9.6 seconds to 60mph suggests. 

Perhaps this was because there was nothing else to focus on in a cabin uncluttered by superfluous luxuries like electric windows or plastic trim. Beyond the minuscule black dash, body-coloured metal was the Rallye way; even the characteristic red carpet was said to be lightweight. Beyond that there were three pedals, half a yard of gearstick and a three-spoke steering wheel powered exclusively by the arms God gave you. 

And that was all it needed. Peugeot's nous and physics did the rest; bequeathing the Rallye much the same spiky and immersive handling experience that had already been immortalized by the 205. Sochaux would eventually get round to installing more power in the 106 - most memorably in the GTI, but in the S2 Rallye, too - yet the S1's cultish reputation remains unwrinkled by what came later. 

Consequently, its values - having previously dipped close to Shed money not too many moons ago - have now rebounded to the point where a well kept (but still well used) example is considered desirable enough to be worth only £2k less than it was in 1994. Plainly that somewhat negates the car's original low-cost appeal, but with just 76k on the clock our Spotted can list increasing rarity alongside pitch perfect looks, steel wheels, preposterously low mass and that engine. A connoisseur's keeper. 


Engine: 1,294cc, 4-cylinder
Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 100@7,200rpm
Torque (lb ft): 80@5,400rpm
CO2: N/A
First registered: 1994
Recorded mileage: 76,000 
Price new: £8,995
Price now: £6,940

See the original advert here.


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Comments (49) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Jon_S_Rally 01 Feb 2018

    I blinkin' love these. Would love an original one. Such a shame so many got the 16v engine fitted, sacrilege in my view.

    Not a mention of its homologation origins though? Isn't the clue in the name - Rallye - as in rally car?

  • x19dude 01 Feb 2018

    What a fantastic little car. I have an S2 106 GTI and absolutely love it - it is incredible fun to throw around backroads. .

  • meehaja 01 Feb 2018

    Seen a couple of minters recently and been tempted a few times over the years...

  • jeremy996 01 Feb 2018

    My wife loved hers and cried when it was sold. (Although the Beetle Cabriolet that replaced it was very stylish, it was not a great drive).

    April 1995; M91KBC - red, no sunroof, (special order, I banged my head on the sunroof frame of the demonstrator), it looks like it came off MOT in 2009 and recorded untaxed from November 2013.

    I have looked at buying one, but too many have the GTI engine fitted and the engine was a great deal of the appeal.

  • Turbobanana 01 Feb 2018

    I ran 2 as demonstrators back in the day, a white one and a red. (The only other colour available was black).

    The white was a bog standard, non-sunroof car (not special order - you had to opt FOR it, not against) which had sat in the showroom for the entire consignment period and was registered (for me!) the day before we had to pay for it. Bloody loved that car - revved out to 7,200 easily; stiffer rear ARB meant left-foot braking on roundabouts induced oversteer; I took the radio out of mine as I couldn't hear it; and, despite my size 11 shoes, I could easily heel and toe - many will say they couldn't. It remains one of the best wet-weather cars I ever drove, mainly because - although it was so light - it was so controllable and stable and had relatively wide tyres for the day.

    Did 12,000 miles in it before we eventually managed to move it on (not that I was trying too hard smile)

    Red one was too posh: sunroof, aftermarket alloys, alarm and central locking. Never went as well as the white one.

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