Minimalist ’90s hot hatch Peugeot 306 Rallye looks set to have its used-market moment
The 1990s was a fairly dry decade for the hot hatch breed: spiralling insurance premiums sought to kill them off, while increasing weight and safety kit sapped the life out of small, fun cars. Thankfully, the French managed to stay true to the cause, with the Peugeot 306 Rallye.
When the 306 launched in 1993, Peugeot was still at the top of its game. Even the humble models were dynamically adept, offering a supple ride, direct steering and a playful chassis balance – all the things Peugeot was best known for. The cars were even screwed together pretty well. In 1996 a 167bhp naturally aspirated 2-litre engine was stuffed under the bonnet and mated to a close-ratio six-speed gearbox (back when that was a big deal), creating the 306 GTI 6 – a true successor to the mighty 205 GTI.
To offer something a little bit more focused and around £2000 cheaper, in 1998 Peugeot launched the mechanically identical Rallye. A lack of equipment, some cheaper seats and a set of stickers are really all that separate it from the GTI, but limited production of just 500 – all for the UK – mean the Rallye commands a premium today. Unlike the 205 and 106 Rallyes that preceded it, the 306 wasn’t a proper homologation special, but it was said to be around 50kg lighter.
You can still pick up cheap Rallyes. However, the best tend to stick within the clubs, so tracking down a good one can take time. While £1500 will get you a usable example, you’ll need £3500 for one of the tidiest. With top examples of the best ’80s hot hatches fetching serious money, you can only conclude that these will follow suit, so grab one now while you can, and cherish it. Or consider… Rover 200 BRM
It’s a special edition, built in limited numbers, and has one of the most luxuriously trimmed interiors you’ll ever find in a hatch. There’s also a Torsen limited-slip diff, if you can get over the fact it’s a Rover… Renault Clio Williams
The Williams offers a slightly more raw driving experience than the Rallye. Early cars have already earned collector status (and price tags), though. Citroen ZX 16v
Almost identical to the 306 GTI under the skin, with a slightly less exciting 152bhp engine and five-speed ‘box. Much rarer than the Rallye, and much cheaper, too.