Plans are afoot…

106 rallye

106 rallye

Ever since selling my old 106 GTi a couple of years ago and putting the cash into the house deposit, I knew I’d be back in one again one day. Despite currently owning 2 much faster outright cars, nothing I’ve owned has the same rawness, steering wheel and sheer chuckability (is that even a word?) as the 106 GTi. I liken it to an angry wasp; small, buzzing loudly, changing direction instantly, chasing it’s prey down, and packing a real punch.

The appeal of the GTi starts with it’s lightness; In a world of increasing EU regulation over crash tests, airbags and crumple zones, cars have got heavier over the years. The 106 harks back to a day when regulations were not as strict, and standard equipment was sparse. This meant a very light car by today’s standards, around 950kg. Less weight means improved handling, better acceleration, braking and a canny ability to change direction like nothing else. In the words of the immortal Colin Chapman, “Simplify, and add lightness”. It works.

Steering feel
Another one of it’s USP’s is steering feel in this car – It is uncannily good. It communicates the road surface, grip, camber, through the wheel to your hands in such a way that you feel so confident you can brake at the very last moment, sense how much grip is there, and keep it there just at the threshold of ABS braking. The car feels like it’s constantly communicating how much grip all 4 tyres have sending the road surface flowing back through the steering to your fingertips. It’s a great sensation and hugely underrated in modern cars today which often feel disconnected from the road.

The 106 was created at a time when the engineers ran Peugeot. Before the accountants got involved, the engineers had free reign to set up the car in such a way that it dialled out understeer and while more difficult to control for the layman than say, a 207, with it’s dull understeering chassis, the 106 attitude could be adjusted on the throttle (very easily with cheap/old tyres). The way the car turns in (especially on modern tyres) is sublime, and on a flowing country lane, it’s sweet handling and low inertia means even today, it would challenge modern turbocharged hatchbacks.

The Rallye
All the above also applies to the 106 Rallye which in S2 guise is even lighter than the GTi (865kg) and in my mind looks even better with it’s rally livery and unique bumpers. The Rallye never had the 1.6 16V TU engine from the GTi, making do with an 8v. However, the 106 has been around so long now, that the tuning and modification scene knows it inside out, there is very little that hasn’t been done before.

So yadda yadda, what’s so interesting you say, about buying a old French rustbucket? Just get on with it. Well, that’s the plan. But first we need to talk engines. The standard 8v Rallye engine makes 103bhp. This is not going to cut it. So how about we take the 16v from the GTi (120bhp) drop it in and turbocharge it (200bhp). Should make for a lot of fun!

As I said, plans are afoot!

That smile, when the turbo kicks in

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