Affordable and straightforward, the Peugeot 106 Rallye serves the new generation of the Real Driver, of its time, but also of today.
“What do you want so much 106 Rallye?” asked a Peugeot executive at the end of the 90s, as Thanos Iliopoulos recalls, photographing the black 106 Rallye with devotion. Greece at that time was the biggest market in Europe for French “hot hatches” and many of them did end up in the Greek races and especially in the popular “Eniao”, organized by SOAA with the support of the delegation. But many 106 Rallye 1.3s were “painted” on the road as a “Real Driver” choice, while today, unfortunately, very few remain in factory condition.
At the beginning of the 21st century, any “thoroughbred and fun” car was labeled “dangerous”, being targeted by new legislation. Thus, stricter emissions and crash test standards were introduced, factors that gradually increased dimensions and weight, while at the same time driving behavior became safer for the inexperienced, but for the old P.O. “boring and sterile”. At the end of 1993, when the 106 Rallye was introduced, it was 26 kg heavier than the larger 205 Rallye, while its engine had lost 3 hp and 10 Nm of torque. Importantly, it now “breathed” through a Magneti Marelli electronic injection system instead of the double Weber carburetors, while for the use of unleaded gasoline, after the exhaust manifold, the catalyst was inserted. It was, in short, a “more civilized and slightly slower modern Rallye”.
Ultimately the overall feeling of better quality, enhanced passive safety and even greater ease of use prevailed. The new 106 Rallye met the specifications for the coveted “homologation” of Group N and A. It retained the red carpet, which together with the red seat belts gave the interior a special vivacity, which even today puts you in the mood before turning around the key in the ignition.
The all-aluminum and ultra-lightweight “TU2J2” engine (1,294 cc, over-square, 8-valve, with a single overhead camshaft), from the moment it starts and up to 4,000 rpm, is enough to keep you moving pleasantly . Close to 5,000 it shows you that it “finally woke up” and that it is “on-cam” (that is, it is “within” the turns for which it is designed). From there, up to the 7,250 cutter, it sounds pleasant and at its best, and if you want to go fast, this is the area to keep it. The 100 hp it is said to deliver will only be found “up there”, at 7,200 rpm, just before the cutter. “Allies” are the short and tight gearbox, the quick and precise gear selector, the unexpectedly light clutch and the instantaneous response of the throttle, which also helps with downshifts before the turn.
The performance of the 106 Rallye 1.3 in absolute terms (0-100 km/h in 9.6 seconds and a top speed of 188 km/h) was objectively respectable thirty and even twenty years ago, while today it is considered mediocre. More than twice the horsepower and torque values, combined with automatic gearboxes and a multitude of electronic stability systems, are now commonplace. In fact, excellent performance results without effort on the part of the driver.
The magic of the 106 Rallye was never in its absolute horsepower and performance numbers, but in essence, linked to its low weight and chassis-suspension-engine assembly (in that order). makes you “fall in love” with it from the first quick ride. The “magical” homogeneity of the impressively stiff chassis (it was impressive then, while today it pleasantly surprises you) and the damping setting of the suspension, in practice, are surprising, as the way the car passes “air” over the imperfections of the road, without to disturb his balance, is typical. An advantage of the larger diameter front anti-roll bar, which does not let the car take slopes in the turns, even if you correct afterwards, when closing the turn. The grip limits of a factory 106 Rallye are not particularly high, as its 175/60 R14 tires betray by their progressive slippage. How it is lost and regained is not black and white, but there is an “explorable” area. The car actually achieves a lot with very little and almost all of this has to do with its low weight in the first place and of course the rear axle with torsion bars, trailing arms and almost “vertically” mounted shock absorbers, as they had perfected this platform Peugeot engineers.
In fast corners you first learn, and then you know that you can turn “as you come”, marking correctly and decisively, and here the low weight of the engine also helps. As the tires begin to deform and the suspension compresses, the rear “takes over”. It shifts slightly outward to turn the car, make it 'look' towards the apex (the top of the turn) and set it up for its driver to stay on the throttle, all at the same time as a subtle reverse steering . In this way, the speed of the car is maintained, which is in the best possible “position” so that you sink the gas sooner for the exit, to the extent that it makes you not see the time for the end of the intervening straight section, so that you “attack” on the next turn, and again on each subsequent turn. All of the above add up to a very fun experience – you really enjoy every moment – and when you glance at the speedometer, you realize you're going between 60 and 120 km/h, and that's when you smile! You think, can't all that joy, that sense of speed, that rush of adrenaline happen while you're practically driving within (okay, at times outside) the speed limit.
It is proof that such driving pleasure can come from something “humble”, accessible and without excessive dimensions. And indeed with a way of driving worthy of a classic car, which still circulates in an international environment, increasingly strict for “traditional” motoring.
In first person
In conclusion to mention that from what we had to do for this “test” on that sunny day in Agios Mercurios and Hippocrates Politia, we were basically left with the pleasure of enjoying 100% of the “magical” set for 4Wheel friends . I would like to take this opportunity to thank the friends who worked to complete this restoration project. In chronological order, Yiannis, Thanasis and Giorgos of AutoK.gr, Vassilis Karatzanis, Michalis and Nasos of Swell Detailing, and Alexandros with his body shop team at Zervos Service. If nothing else, we managed to save a 106 Rallye for future generations.
In writing, I wish we had lured you into the “driver's seat” of a 106 Rallye, and if you're wondering about the choice, it's because as a kid I read in 4Wheels about the first 106 Rallye, and then I was lucky enough to see how the 106 XSi turns (and later the 106 GTI), which my brother drove during the carefree summers in the southern suburbs of the '90s.
Since then I have dreamed that one day I will own a “good 106” and manage to drive it in a corresponding way. In this day and age, I feel lucky that the dream has come true. In 2024, I hope that this particular Peugeot 106 Rallye will be hosted in a thematic exhibition dedicated to “'90s Icons”, designed by Mr. Nikiforos Charagionis and Mrs. Theresia Paramythioti, at the Hellenic Automobile Museum, with which I have the honor to collaborate since 2011._ M. P. Patronis
PS: Miltos Patronis, owner of a first generation Honda Civic Type R, is a traditional reader of the magazine, our partner and friend.
PHOTOS: THANOS ILIOPOULOS