There's a decent choice of engines in the 206 range starting with the entry-level 1.1-litre petrol with just 60bhp. It's adequate around town but not a good choice for longer journeys, instead look to the 1.4-litre with 75bhp (from 2003 this was upgraded to a 16v version with 90bhp). However our choice of the petrols is the 1.6-litre unit - the 16-valve model from 2000 being more sought after.
It's peppy and revs freely giving decent performance although like the smaller engines it will get noisy when pushed hard. The diesels impress more although it's best avoiding the older 1.9D which is an unrefined throwback with just 70bhp. The 1.4-litre HDi is better and the most economical in the range, averaging 64mpg, however it can feel sluggish.
But the best engine in the range for performance and economy is the 1.6HDi with 110bhp (that was launched in 2004 and only available as a GTi). It's smooth, fairly quiet and offers strong in-gear pace. Prior to the 1.6-litre, Peugeot offered a 2.0HDi but this only boasts 90bhp - however it's a good motorway cruiser.
The 206 is safe and easy to drive with light controls. This has its disadvantages on more demanding roads though where the overly assisted power steering robs the driver of any feel and there's precious little feedback. That's a shame as the handling is well set up and the 206 corners neatly with good levels of grip while body roll is fairly controlled.
The slack five-speed gearbox is a big annoyance though and only adds to the low-rent feel plus the ride can be a little crashy, especially on the sportier models.
While the exterior styling has aged well, the same cannot be said of the interior. The layout is fairly neat with a nice information screen on top of the dash but the scratchy plastics, unsupportive seats and the odd rattle do little to instil confidence in longevity and durability. But the biggest bugbear is the awful driving position. The pedals are too close together and the steering wheel is too far from the driver and sits at an odd angle.
There's a lack of storage too.
Most of the engines in the 206 are loud, not helped by the obvious lack of noise insulation while there's intrusive wind noise at higher speed. It certainly doesn't feel very refined. The lack of support in the front seats can make longer journeys tiring and the cramped driving position doesn't help comfort either - it's certainly not a car that is designed for long motorway journeys.
On the plus side rear passenger space isn't bad for a car of this size, but when compared to newer rivals it seems quite cramped.