The Peugeot 106 Rallye’s steering is a touch ponderous at low speeds. And I don’t like red seatbelts. Also, the wheels look as though they could have come from the Hillman Avenger Top Hat (remember that?) spare parts bin, though they don’t actually clash too violently with the ‘works’ PTS colour scheme.
In other words, not much cause for complaint. Launched earlier this year as the most powerful 106 yet, the Rallye is powered by an all-new 1.3-litre engine, which pumps out 100 bhp at 7200 rpm. Top speed is quoted as 118 mph, and the 0-60 mph sprint should take fractionally less than 10s.
As its name suggests, the Rallye is designed for competition, and has been homologated in Groups A and N. To facilitate the adaptation, and in the interests of lighter weight, Peugeot has ensured that the sound deadening materials are easily removed. There were times, particularly on motorways, when we wondered whether the test car was already in the throes of conversion. It is not what you’d call quiet.
It is, however, what you would call superbly balanced. It turns in crisply, handles neutrally under full power and can be made to do pretty much whatever you want it to do via the throttle. And while 80 lb ft (peaking at 5400 rpm) might not sound like a lot of torque, it responds with real mid-range vigour. With a kerb weight of just 810 kg, it has power enough. It’s actually comfortable, too (unless you are a pair of ears): a Mini Cooper with extra vim, a delightful, ultra-fast gearchange, and suspension.
Engine apart, the Rallye is actually based largely upon the acclaimed (and equally noisy) XSi, the only concession to possible competition requirements being a pair of thicker anti-roll bars.
At £9050, it’s around £1500 cheaper than the more lavishly equipped XSi. The interior may be a sea of gaudy spots and stripes, but you won’t find any electrical accoutrements tucked away within the riot of colour.
It may be spartan, but it’s also sparkling. Without question, it is one of the most intoxicating small cars we have driven recently. S A