The VW Golf GTI and the Peugeot 205 GTi are the first things that people in the know think of when they think of a sharp or sporty hatchback. But there were a lot of such cars, especially in the 1990s. For example Peugeot 106 Rallye.

The reviewed Peugeot 106 was launched in 1991, when, after a three-year hiatus, it replaced the not-so-well-known 104 model in our country. According to former customs in naming models, it was the first representative of the sixth generation of Peugeot cars (hence the six in the name). The hundred and six was slightly smaller than the 205 model. Technically, however, it was not a completely new design when it came out of the Citroën AX. In addition to the chassis and floor platform, the 106 also received power units from the TU (gasoline) and TUD (diesel) series.

Right from the start, Peugeot also offered a sporty version of the XSi with a 1.4-liter engine, characterized by plastic fender skirts. Its TU3F J2 engine also provided the highest power of 69 kW thanks to the advanced Bosch Motronic MP3.1 injection. The car drove excellently, both in terms of the engine and especially the chassis. It was a small GT rather than an outright sports car, as the XSi equipment was also very rich, so the car could have, for example, heated front seats or an ABS system. Strangely, power steering was never featured in the menu in this version, but in practice it didn’t really matter much.

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True sportiness arrived in 1993 with the Rallye version. During its development, as with the larger and older 205 Rallye, a very low weight was achieved, namely by maximum cheating of the equipment. For example, the doors are only partially upholstered, so a bare sheet metal in the body color peeks out at you in the cabin (like for example in Škoda 105/120 cars). The color was almost always white, but blue, red or black were also offered. The interior with seats and a three-spoke leather-trimmed steering wheel was copied by the XSi, on the other hand, the red carpet was already used in the larger and older 205 Rallye.

Smaller but more powerful

The rallye engine is a specific version of the TU series aggregates. These were commonly available in 1.0, 1.1, 1.4 and 1.6 litres. But the four-cylinder of the reviewed car is a 13-liter. It has the same bore of 75 mm with the larger 14-pin. A smaller volume was thus achieved by shortening the stroke “on the crank” from 77 to 73.2 mm. In other words, the non-square engine has become under-square or also short-stroke. Engines designed in this way usually turn at higher speeds, which are the main finesse of a non-supercharged engine to increase its specific performance. The second is to increase the compression ratio.

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If we compare it, the standard four-cylinder 1.4 (TU3) offered 55 kW/5800, in the XSi already mentioned 69 kW/6600, and in the rally unit reduced by 0.1 liter even 72 kW, but only at 7200/min. Its compression ratio is 10.2:1 (for the regular 1.4 it is 9.3, respectively 9.9:1 for the XSi). The 1.3 engine powered the aforementioned 205 Rallye. In it, however, a double Weber carburetor took care of the preparation of the mixture. This ruled out the use of a controlled catalytic converter, so for that reason the version sold in Germany had the XU nineteen. The version for the 106 Rallye has injection from the start, namely multi-point Magneti Marelli 8P, and therefore works with a controlled catalyst.

Check the container

PSA TU series engines were produced from 1986 until the second decade of the 21st century. In terms of reliability and durability, these are some of the best engines of recent decades. Even after many years, they usually serve well. Their biggest betrayal is generally hidden in a failing cylinder head gasket. As Tomáš Arnošt told us some time ago, who has been servicing Peugeots and Citroens for years in Kocbeří, near Trutnov, and is also a Peugeot 205 collector, the problem lies in the small distance between the oil and water channels.

In practice, the coolant usually penetrates the oil or vice versa. According to Tomáš Arnošt’s experience, oil in water is more common. This is also why the coolant expansion tank is very often dirty. However, this does not mean that the car you are buying has this problem. It is enough that the mechanics do not rinse the bandaska after replacing the head gasket.

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Replacing the cylinder head gasket takes a specialist about four hours of work. During replacement, the bearing surface of the head must also be milled, and this cannot be done without new distributions, which are solved with a toothed belt. Tomáš Arnošt will do the whole thing for approximately 8,000 crowns. The advantage of the TU series engines is the fact that you can still get enough parts for them, which are not even expensive.

Specific rear axle

The rear axle of the Peugeot 106 is a traditional specific PSA design with longitudinal arms mounted in needle bearings and sprung by transverse torsion bars. The known problems caused by the penetration of moisture into the storage of the arms also apply to it

“If there is play in the needle bearings and it is caught in time, it is only necessary to replace them, which is not always easy, but the arm bearing is still supplied as a repair kit. Such a repair will cost me 4,000 crowns both ways. However, if the clearance is not addressed, the bearings will eventually wear out the outer bushings and at the same time the pin that passes through the bearings will wear out. The bushings must be re-skinned and the pin replaced. And that is significantly more expensive: normally 10,000 to 12,000 crowns,” informs Peugeot and Citroen specialist Tomáš Arnošt from Kocbeří near Trutnov.

Corrosion and floating stern

The biggest enemy of the Peugeot 106 is, as you probably guessed, corrosion of the bodywork. Not the superficial one, which is in the minority here, but rather the in-depth, structural one. Few current 106’s, unless someone has already repaired it, do not have a corroded floor along with the beams in the rear. It eventually also attacks the rear wheel arches, which in extreme cases can be seen in the trunk. The problem is mainly the connection of the side panels to the floor.

But the Peugeot 106 also corrodes in the front. It is quite common for a rusted right beam in the engine compartment (from the driver’s point of view) in its front part, which is also a deformation zone, absorbing impact energy. This is a fundamental problem of some cars of the PSA group, because not only the 106’s sibling, the Citroën Saxo, but also the larger and newer Peugeot 206 suffer from the same ailment. Surprisingly, for example, the older 205 or the larger 306 do not have this problem.

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The 106 also shares suspension with the Citroën Saxo. At the front, a modified McPherson is applied with triangular arms placed directly in brackets that are welded to the front beams. So the 106 does not have a front axle. That’s why we would certainly be interested in the condition of the mounting in terms of corrosion with a car this old. Only the XSi and Rallye had a better, and thus the most effective, version of the anti-roll bar with long links hanging from the shock struts.

To make it not so simple, the arms existed in two variants – sheet metal, and therefore the same as in the civilian versions or, and this is very interesting, forged, formed by a log similar to the components of racing cars. With a car this old, the availability of spare parts is key. You can get the regular ones at general retailers. It’s worse with specific components.

Peugeot offers practically nothing on the 106, so you have to try and look where you can. A British online store aptly named 106parts can make the situation easier for you. It is in Great Britain that these sharp Peugeots are still popular today. The offer is divided by version, more precisely by motorization.

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If you take a look at the section dedicated to the original 106 Rallye marked S1, you will find a fairly wide range of even very special parts. The prices are different, but you need to add postage, which is not exactly cheap from England, and also a fee for customs services. Just for fun, for example the fuel feed pump will cost £341.

The article was published in Auto Tip Klassik 11/2023. You can buy the magazine at ikiosek.cz.