Hot hatch legends don’t come cheap, do they? From Focus RS to Civic Type R and Renaultsport Megane to Golf R32, the icons of the 21st century (and V6 Golfs) now command a pretty penny. Which is a pity when the very essence of the genre should be about affordable fun. But then they’re hardly alone; plenty of even vaguely interesting fast cars have very optimistic price tags currently attached to them.
Help might be at hand, however, in the shape of this very lovely Peugeot 306 GTI-6. You may have noticed this wasn’t in our recent PH25 hot hatch vote, but only because the Rallye got the nod instead. Regardless, this is one of Peugeot’s finest. If you were feeling particularly kind, you could even say that the hot hatch glory days we enjoyed from the late 1990s began with this car. Before there was a Clio 172, a good Golf GTI or a Ford Focus of any kind, the GTI-6 was wiping the floor with pretty ordinary cars like the Bravo HGT, Almera GTI and Civic VTI. Using the formula that served so many subsequent hot hatches well - a brawny 2.0-litre engine, six-speed manual and agile chassis - the 306 was Peugeot at its very best. Pert good looks did the GTI’s appeal no harm, either.
We all know what happened next. If the 1980s and 1990s represented Peugeot at the peak of its hot hatch powers, the GTIs and Rallyes still rightly revered as icons, then the start of the 21st century was its nadir. The 206 GTI was crap, the 207 was even worse, and let’s not even mention the 307. It wasn’t until the 208 GTI 30th and 308 GTI, almost 15 years after the last 106 GTI was made, that Peugeot remembered how to make good hot hatches. For fans of the brand, it felt even longer. Seldom has a manufacturer fallen so far, so fast, in the estimations of enthusiasts. Only Citroen managed its hot hatch heritage worse.
It was during the time of rubbish Peugeot hot hatches that people were enjoying the great ones, back when they were dirt cheap. And, as can happen when enjoying a great hot hatch a little too much, a few were crashed. They were cheap and disposable and available, people thought little of it. Then the good Peugeot hot hatch returned, people remembered how much they loved the old ones, went to buy one again… and found that dwindling numbers had pushed the prices way up. You don’t need us to remind you what a good 205 GTI now costs.
However, while all the heroes have enjoyed some appreciation, the GTI-6 still looks vaguely attainable. Which we’ve been saying for years, it seems, so perhaps they may just stay that way. But for a car of the 306’s reputation and rarity, standard down to the tape player and peashooter exhaust, with 60,000 miles and a great colour, £9,995 doesn’t seem daft at all. ‘The last GTI-6 for £10k!’ sounds hyperbolic, but having watched them slowly but surely climb over the past few years there won’t be many left advertised at four figures. Not in the world of the £45k Rallye, at least.
This one needs an MOT soon, and while its fabulous condition is not up for dispute, this is a 27-year-old example of a car launched, in standard form at least, more than 30 years ago - a GTI-6 is going to need caring for like a classic. And not the cheap and cheerful pocket rocket we remember it as. Don’t forget about regular cambelt changes, too. But with miles under those glorious Cyclone wheels, this could definitely still be used and enjoyed as intended. All for less money than a 106, let alone a 205 GTI. Told you there were still canny buys out there.
SPECIFICATION | PEUGEOT 306 GTI-6
Engine: 1,998cc 4-cyl
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 170@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 142@5,500rpm
First registered: 1997
Recorded mileage: 60,000
Price new: £17,258 (1996)
Yours for: £9,995
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