Light, sharp, fun, the Peugeot 106 Rallye is a hot hatch in the classic vein that can still show modern rivals a thing or two
…the 106 Rallye may well be your best way to sample Peugeot at its hot hatchback peak
Peugeot 106 Rallye in detail
One word describes the creation of the original 106 Rallye: Homologation. The sub-1300cc class was big business back in the early 1990s, but Peugeot’s sporty 106 XSi just missed out on complying with the rules, owing to its 1.4-litre capacity.
The solution was simple: drop a 1.3-litre version of Peugeot’s venerable TU-series four-cylinder behind the nose instead. The eight-valve, single overhead camshaft unit featured a high-compression cylinder head, dedicated intake manifold, and a suitably mountainous camshaft to enable 100bhp at a lofty 7200rpm. Unlike its 205 Rallye predecessor, which featured a pair of carburettors, the Rallye used Magnetti Marelli fuel injection.
The Rallye’s basic suspension layout matched that of the XSi, with struts up front and a trailing arm and torsion bar layout at the rear (a classic Peugeot setup). Springs and dampers were shared with the XSi but thicker anti-roll bars gave the Rallye an even more aggressive setup.
5.5x14in Michelin steel wheels - one of the Rallye’s most distinctive visual features - hid front discs and rear drums, while Rallye buyers had the option of white, red or black paintwork [I think this blue was a continent-only color?]. Equipment levels were sparse, but a red interior carpet and three-spoke steering wheel - with a set of red seatbelts - gave off the correct vibe. Plenty of Rallye buyers would quickly remove them anyway for Group N and Group A competition.
What Rallyes lacked on paper, both made up for on the road. S1s are the more raucous and for some the more fun, with a high-revving engine and featherweight feel that would never be possible in modern equivalents. S2s are a little more liveable owing to their greater torque. Both provide a rich stream of information to the driver with garrulous steering, sharp throttle response and delightfully swift five-speed gearshifts, while even a lack of power assisted steering can’t hide the agility that comes from such light kerbweights. It’s a shame we’re unlikely to see their like again.
What we said
Rallye S1 vs Citroen C2 GT, evo 064 (Feb 2004), Richard Meaden
‘What strikes you is how alive the whole car feels, from the steering with its consistent flow of granular feedback, to the engine with its razor responses and a glorious, ever-increasing keenness to rev. Its unburstable enthusiasm and manic workrate infect the whole car, egging you on to drive it harder and faster.
‘The chassis is similarly wired, constantly on tip-toe and poised to dart for an apex. You tackle the road in completely the opposite way to the C2, for rather than trust blindly in the reserves of grip and neutral balance, you summon all the information you can gather from your fingertips and buttocks to judge precisely how close you want to get to the more modest but far more clearly telegraphed limits... there’s still magic in the machinery.’
106 Rallye S2 ‘Starter motors’, evo 171 (July 2012), Peter Tomalin
‘Turning off the motorway, the sheer weight of the little Pug’s unassisted steering hits home at the very first roundabout - the clutch is pretty beefy too - and it’s all rather at odds with the stripped-out interior and the rorty, high-revving motor.
‘Heading further into the hills, as the road starts to buck and weave, the 106 comes even more into its own. The ride’s pretty pliant, though the occasional sharp ridge rattles the flimsy plastic trim, and through faster corners a rock of the shoulders locks it onto line - there’s no shortage of grip in steady-state cornering.’