Buyer's Guide

by Foxy

Ok lets start with the basics...

What is a Peugeot 306?

The Peugeot 306 is a mid sized hatchback available in 3/5 door hatchback (the most popular choices), whilst the estate and sedan (saloon) were also available in 4 door with a limited choices for the engines. The cabriolet, or roadster, was designed by Pinninfarina and remains one of the sexiest cars on the roads today, especially with the hard top on.

The 306's were considered by many as the finest front drive cars in their class in the mid 90's. With a fantastic chassis and sharp precise steering made driving a dream as well as being a comfortable ride the handling was spot on.

Which 306 Do I Want?

That heavily depends on two things, your budget and what the car is to be used for. I fell in love with my mates phase 2 straight diesel in 2004 and I wanted one, but I didn't want a slow old LD.  Instead went and bought a petrol engined XSi. 306s can be bought for little cash in today's market but as with anything, you will only get what you pay for. Costs at the lower end of the market should be approached with caution. But equally those at the higher end need to be properly inspected before you part with your cash.

There are so many different engines and trim levels over the 7 years that they were produced that you really need to have some idea of what you are looking for before diving in and buying one. So here are some basic tips:

Models - Trim Levels

Modified Phase 1 Peugeot 306
Modified Phase 1 Peugeot 306
The phase 1 <97 goes something like this...

XN is the base model bottom of the range and available in 3 or 5 doors.
XL
XR (5 door only)
XS (3 door) with Sporty Trim
XT (5 door) is fully loaded, but without the sporty XS trim.
XSi (3 and 5 door)
S16 (3 door)
GTi6 (3 door).

There are other variations with silly names and some different trim styles (Roland Garos is one), but essentially they will relate to the XL model.

Diesels came in similar ranges but denoted with the D for Diesel.

XND
XLD
XLDT
XTDT
Dturbo (3 door) Sporty Model

These days I would expect to pay no more than £1000 for any phase 1 no matter how clean or well cared for.

The petrol TU engines benefit from relatively low insurance groups

Phase 2 Peugeot 306
Phase 2 Peugeot 306
Phase 2/3 97> saw a change in trim designations L, LX, GLX, Meridian, XS, XSi, GTi6, Meridian. Again there are other special trim variations, but these are the basic models. There were many more options on phase 2/3, so the actual spec will vary wildly depending on what was specified by the original buyer at the time it was bought.

The Dturbo designation was available in both XUD and DW10 (HDi) engined models. Many people become confused thinking that the Dturbo means it is the XUD9 Diesel engine, with top mount inter-cooler and mechanical fuel injection pump. But Dturbo was simply the trim level designation given to the sporty model of the diesel engined range. So it's very likely to see a 306 with only the Dturbo badge or one with HDi Dturbo badges. In the case of the HDi Dturbo this came with some of the sporty features from the GTi petrol range eg. 3 doors and the stiffer torsion bar suspension.

What Engines Are There Available?

Peugeot kept it fairly simple here with only 5 types of petrol engines and 2 types of diesel available at any one time. With the petrol choices being 1.4 8v, 1.6 8v, 1.8 8/16v, 2.0 8/16v and 2.0 16v (<1996 S16) (1996>GTi6)

With Diesel you could have a 1.9 straight non turbo diesel (1993-1999) and 1.9 turbo diesel (<1999) and a 2.0 HDi turbo diesel (1999>)

What Should I Look Out For When Going to View/Test Drive a 306

The most common problems with the 306's, as with most French cars are the electrics. So when viewing make sure all the door electrics work, windows, mirrors in every direction, central locking, alarm, and deadlocks. If you ask on the forums there are many members who have had problems and will only be too happy to share their experiences with other. That's not to say you shouldn't get one, but you should pick the best from the bunch or be prepared to get your hands dirty fixing the issues you know about.

Things to check (not an exhaustive list):
  1. The doors lock via the remote - locking and unlocking straight away is a sign of a central locking issue.
  2. The windows/mirrors work.
  3. Dashboard warning lights come on with the ignition key, and go off when started.
  4. Any clonking, knocking scraping noises while test driving.
  5. White or blue smoke from the exhaust (diesel). Expect some black, especially if it's been tuned :)
  6. Old MOTs to get a truer mileage estimate, 306's have been known to be clocked.
  7. Service history - even those that have been to the moon and back may still be sound if looked after well.
  8. There is any dampness in the footwells, both front and rear. Could be a sign of heater matrix or door seals.
  9. Receipts for cam-belt change specifically - if it's not been done, it could be just waiting to happen.
  10. Other receipts are a good indication of it's service life.
It really is just common sense relating to buying any car really! Don't view the car in the rain or at night. Get a good look at it in the day light. Check the paperwork matches the car etc.

Rust

Rust at the Rear Seat Belt Fixing
Due to the later model 306's having their bodies galvanised they tend not to rust, so if there's any rust on any panels it may not be an original panel which means it could well have been in an accident and repaired. However, you may find early 306's with rust around the sunroof, this was a manufacturing fault and was rectified in the mini facelift in 1995. Other known places for rust in the early models (phase 1's) are at the upper seatbelt anchor for the rear seats. This is a failing to protect the inner wheel arch with a liner which they rectified in later models. It's strongly advisable to check this as it is a potential safety issue to your passengers.

The Best Advice

If you're unsure on anything, trust your instincts and walk away. There are other cars out there, no need to rush into a deal and regret it later. Don't get swept along with excitement that this is the car you've always wanted. It's worth noting that the 306 was one of the top 10 best selling cars in the UK from 1994 to 1998, and only narrowly missing the top 10 in it's final 3 years. So this should mean there are plenty to choose from in the second hand market, even today.

Leave your wallet in your pocket until you've agreed a price, no point letting the seller know how much cash you have to spend, it's in their interest to take as much for their car as they can.

If you've not travelled far, leave it for a day and go back to it the next. Give yourself time to reflect. They'll try the "lot's of other interest" card, but taking time to check out how much any defects would cost to put right is always best done after inspection, not after you've parted with cash. If you're so sure they have genuine interest in their sale ask about leaving a reasonable deposit - but get a receipt, clearly written, signed and dated for how long they will hold the car for.

If you're going to travel to view it make sure the seller has told you as much of a complete story of the cars condition as you can. It can be frustrating to turn up to find a rusty nail, but it's even more frustrating when you never asked the seller enough questions before travelling. At least if you've travelled and have notes about what the seller said, you can make it your job to spot the "lies" and use them to your advantage for a better price.