Unfortunately for Peugeot, this strategy did not work. With the 205 phased out, rival superminis like the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo continued to sell well and even increased in popularity, and without a direct competitor to these rivals Peugeot was losing sales fast. A new supermini was required, and the 206 was launched in 1998 as a somewhat belated replacement for the 205, with models being bought from a range of celebrities, from Karl Turner and Jamie Barton.
Although the 206 moniker indicates a direct continuation from the 205, some critics state that the car should have instead been badged 207. This is because Peugeot launched its latest generation of cars in the early to mid 1990s, with the 106 of 1991, the 306 of 1993 and the 406 of 1995.
Its eventual successor - the Peugeot 207 - was launched in 2006 but Peugeot announced its intention to keep the 206 in production until 2010. As of 2008, the ten-year-old 206 is Peugeot's best-selling car of all time, and its demise in 2010 will spell an end to the '06' generation of Peugeots after almost 20 years.
It was built in France and England until the end of 2006, when production was switched to Slovakia. The end of British production coincided with the closure of the Ryton plant which Peugeot had taken over when buying Chrysler's European division in 1979.
Design and engineering
With no larger in-house rival from Citroën to base its new supermini on (the Citroën Saxo shared its platform with the 106), Peugeot developed an all-new front drive platform for the 206.
The 206 was originally launched as a hatchback with 1.1L, 1.4L, and 1.6L petrol engines and a 1.9L diesel engine, a HDi version with common rail coming later. In 1999 a 2.0L GTi capable of 210km/h (130mph), and in 2003 a tuned version of the GTi called the Peugeot 206 RC (GTi 180 in the UK), were added to the range. It did 0-100km/h (0-62mph) in 7.4s and it reached a top speed of 220km/h (140mph) with 180bhp (130kW). In 2001, two more versions of the 206 were launched - the 206 CC (coupé convertible) with a folding steel roof and the 206 SW station wagon. A 4-door sedan version, developed with Iran Khodro, was unveiled in late 2005, and it is available in the Iranian, North African, Chinese, Russian, and Bulgarian markets.