The History Of Peugeot 306

The Peugeot 306 is a small family car built by the French car manufacturer Peugeot from 1993 to 2002.

The 306 was the replacement for the Peugeot 309 (which had broken with Peugeot's normal ascending numbering system partly due to it being released before the older and larger Peugeot 305 was axed).

Mechanically, the 306 is virtually identical to the Citroën ZX, which was launched two years before the 306: both cars use the same floorpan and core structure. The 306, with its attractive Peugeot 205 derived Pininfarina styling, was a more successful car than its twin. The Citroen Berlingo and Peugeot Partner were also built on the same platform. The chassis used by the 306 and ZX was also used in the ZX's replacement, the Citroën Xsara. The sharing of platforms between Peugeot and Citroën has been parent company PSA Peugeot Citroën policy since the late 1970s, after the Peugeot takeover of the then bankrupt Citroen in the wake of the 1974 oil crisis. The first car being the Peugeot 104 based Citroen Visa and Citroën LNA. The policy continues today with the Peugeot 107, Citroen C1 and Toyota Aygo.

The 306 was first seen in its pre-production stage in 1992, but was released in March 1993 as a 3- and 5-door hatchback, with saloon, cabriolet and estate models being introduced later. The estate version was branded as the sw, for "station wagon". The Phase 1 model was known as the N3 in Australia, and introduced in 1994.

A bewildering array of different model types were offered during the life of the Phase 1 model, including Genoa, XSS, X, XT, XRdt and Xd. Later were added various 'performance' models, such as the S16, XSi and GTI-6 (petrol) and the D-Turbo S (diesel).

All variants of the 306, with the exception of the GTI-6 and cabriolet models, were priced very competitively.

Petrol engines

The initial petrol engines used were proven four-cylinder units, which had gained a solid reputation in Peugeot models such as the 205, 309 and 405. At first, all mainstream models were powered by derivatives of the TU series 8-valve engine, in 1.1, 1.4 and 1.6litre guises. The 1.1 was dropped quickly, but the 1.4 and particularly the 1.6 variants sold well; the latter offering a good balance between performance and economy.

Three larger-capacity units were available, but restricted to automatic and performance models. These engines were developments of the larger XU series units which had been used in the 205 GTi 1.9, and larger 405 models. A 1.8litre version powered cars with both manual (not many 1.8 manuals were produced) and automatic transmission; while two versions of the 2.0litre engine in 8- and 16-valve guises powered the XSi and S16 models respectively. In Australia, the only engines available were the 1.8 and 2.0L engines.

Diesel engines

Peugeot had an excellent reputation for its diesel engines, and the 306 was originally offered with the XUD series diesel engine in both normally-aspirated and turbocharged forms. This engine was initially a 1.8litre unit, but its capacity was soon enlarged to 1.9litres. The turbocharged version quickly gained a reputation for being a good match for the exceptional handling of the 306. Not only did its outright performance match many similarly-sized petrol cars – almost certainly a first for an affordable mainstream diesel – but the carefully-designed installation ensured its considerable extra weight did not upset the car's handling. The Indirect Injection XUD Diesel is popular for conversion to run on vegetable oil.

Chassis design

The PSA powertrains, described above, drove the front wheels of a chassis with a seemingly conventional design. At the front was a standard McPherson strut layout with anti-roll bar, while the rear used a semi-independent trailing arm/ torsion bar set up. However, Peugeot's chassis engineers employed some unusual features, including passive rear wheel steering (by means of specially designed compliance bushes in the rear suspension), and in-house developed and constructed shock absorbers. The diesel and larger capacity petrol engines are canted as far back as possible in the engine bay in an effort to put as much weight as possible behind the front axle line, improving weight distribution, and minimising understeer. The 306 was possibly regarded as the best handling small family car of its time, until the arrival of the Ford Focus.

Trim levels were XN, XL, XR, XT and XS; XN being the most basic, and XT the highest specification. The XR and XT were available in 5-door only, with the XN and XL available in 3-door too. The D-Turbo and XSi were available in both 3- and 5-door, the XS and S16 only available in 3-door. There were no longer "X/ G" designations ("X" indicating a 3-door, "G" indicating a 5-door). Sedan specification was marked as SN, SL, SR, and ST. A diesel model could be identified with the addition of "d" after the spec level, and a turbodiesel with the addition of "dt". There were special edition versions too, badged "Alpine" from 1994. (3-door only).

Performance models

Peugeot created a D-Turbo "hot hatch" version, which was essentially a petrol XS model with the diesel unit installed. As well as being regarded as the first affordable "performance diesel" the D-Turbo is also credited with being the first mainstream diesel specifically designed to appeal to the keen driver as much as the economically-minded motorist. It was a popular seller in all its various phases throughout the life of the car.[citation needed] Most D-Turbo had 3 doors but there are a few rare examples of 5-door D-Turbo.

The D-Turbo and XS variants were fitted as standard with front fog lights, body-coloured bumpers with deeper spoilers, sports seats and different steering wheel, and a wider, chromed exhaust tailpipe; 14-inch alloy wheels were an optional extra. The models fitted somewhere between the XR and XT variants in terms of standard equipment.

The XSi 8v 2.0 Petrol had the addition of subtle side skirts and the optional extra of 15-inch five spoke alloy wheels. These became standard shortly after.

The S16 was replaced with the more powerful GTI-6 in 1996. It had more power courtesy of a reworked engine, a close-ratio 6-speed gearbox and some subtle chassis revisions.The GTI-6 engine was more flexible than that in the S16, and the new gearbox made it easier to use the engine more effectively.

The 306 underwent the only major revamp of its life in May 1997, with the launch of the "Phase 2" version (N5 in Australia). The basic shape remained the same, but lights, grille and bumpers were redesigned in an effort to bring the styling into line with the new, more rounded, Peugeot family look established with the Peugeot 406. Indicator lamps were now incorporated into the headlamp unit and the new style "block filled" Peugeot lion logo was adopted. A new-style typeface for the car's model number was adopted on the tailgate. There were also some changes to the dashboard layout and trim quality which freshened up the car in the face of increasingly stiff competition from other manufacturers. New engines were also offered, with both 1.8 and 2.0 petrol engines gaining 16-valve cylinder heads together with modest power increases. In 1998 the popular but ageing XUD series diesel engines were phased out and replaced with Peugeot's first generation 2.0 HDi common rail diesel in a turbocharged form only. Although power output remained unchanged, and outright performance remained similar, the new unit brought significant benefits in terms of economy, emissions and refinement. At this time, the previous trim designations were replaced by L, LX & GLX for the UK market. XS, XSi and GTI-6 models continued as before.

Cars from 1998 onwards received further enhancements, including an aluminium-effect centre console on certain versions and a chrome Peugeot logo on the steering wheel. Other updates included a slight tweaking of the "306" badge on the bootlid – now without a black plastic backing – and new upholstery in the cabin.

New models also appeared in Phase 2 trim. The Rallye was launched using the mechanicals from the GTI-6, but with less standard equipment. The Rallye was 65kg (143lb) lighter than the GTI-6, which meant better performance. It only came in three colours - black, cherry red and white. There were only 500 Rallyes produced, which makes them hard to find. The only drawback is the insurance costs as the Rallye is in group 16.

The Meridian model (originally a special edition) was also re-launched in 1999 and boasted a generous equipment list including new half-leather seats, and further cosmetic upgrades to the interior.

Cars for the 1999 model year had further exterior modifications, including clear lenses on the headlamps, complete colour-coding of the exterior trim, removal of the black plastic strip on the lower edge of the tailgate and new paint colours. From 2000, all cars got the GTi-s sport bumper.

Although the 306's reputation for dynamic excellence was attracting buyers, its growing reputation for high maintenance costs, lacklustre dealers, and suspect build quality were earning it some bad press.

Despite Peugeot's efforts, the car placed poorly in a variety of ownership and customer satisfaction surveys of the time, such as the annual JD Power survey which was run in association with the BBC Top Gear television programme. Nevertheless the car featured in Top 10 best selling cars in Britain from 1994 to 1998, and only narrowly missing out on the top 10 during its final three years on sale.

Sales in France and most of the rest of Europe were also strong.

The hatchback 306 was discontinued in 2001 to make way for its replacement, the Peugeot 307. The cabriolet and estate variants both remained on sale until 2002. The slow-selling and questionably-styled saloon was axed from the UK in 1999, however was still available in the rest of Europe until 2002.

In 1998 EuroNCAP test Peugeot 306 obtained 3 stars for occupant protection.

In the 2006 Australian Used Car Safety Ratings, the Peugeot 306 manufactured between 1994-2001 was rated "significantly better than average" in its ability to protect its occupants in the event of a crash. This was one of the highest results achieved in the 2006 ratings.


  • 1.1L (1124cc) TU1JP I4, 60PS (59hp/ 44kW) and 65ft·lbf (88N·m)
  • 1.4L (1360cc) TU3MC I4, 75PS (74hp/ 55kW) and 82ft·lbf (111N·m)
  • 1.4L (1360cc) TU3JP I4, 75PS (74hp/ 55kW) and 82ft·lbf (111N·m)
  • 1.6L (1587cc) TU5JP (NFZ) I4, 88PS (87hp/ 65kW) and 99ft·lbf (135N·m)
  • 1.6L (1587cc) TU5JP (NFT) I4, 98PS (97hp/ 72kW) and 99ft·lbf (135N·m)
  • 1.8L (1761cc) XU7JP I4, 101PS (99hp/ 74kW) and 113ft·lbf (153N·m)
  • 1.8L (1761cc) XU7JP4 I4, 110PS (109hp/ 81kW) and 114ft·lbf (155N·m)
  • 2.0L (1998cc) XU10J2 I4, 121PS (119hp/ 89kW) and 129ft·lbf (176N·m)
  • 2.0L (1998cc) XU10J4R I4, 132PS (131hp/ 97,4kW) and 133ft·lbf (180N·m)
  • 2.0L (1998cc) XU10J4 I4, 150PS (148hp/ 110kW) and 135ft·lbf (183N·m)
  • 2.0L (1998cc) XU10J4Z I4, 152PS (150hp/ 112kW) and 135ft·lbf (183N·m)
  • 2.0L (1998cc) XU10J4RS I4, 163PS (161hp/ 120kW) and 142ft·lbf (193N·m)


  • 1.9L (1868cc) DW 8 Diesel I4, 69PS (68hp/ 51kW) and 92ft·lbf (125N·m)
  • 1.9L (1905cc) XUD9TE Diesel I4, 90PS (89hp/ 66kW) and 144ft·lbf (196N·m)
  • 2.0L (1997cc) DW10TD HDi Diesel I4, 90PS (89hp/ 66kW) and 151ft·lbf (205N·m)

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