Wednesday, May 6, 2020

European hatchbacks: second in a series.

Welcome to the second of four posts featuring a number of econoboxes, and their "hot hatch" variants, that were not available in the North American market. These will be models available from the late 80s until the mid to late 90s manufactured in France, the UK, Italy and Japan!

European econoboxes and hot hatches.

In this week's post I'll introduce you to cars from both sides of the English Channel.
First is the Peugeot 106, a popular French hatchback available from 1988 until 2003. There were two "phases" in the production run, the first from '88 until '96 and the second from '96 until '03. In the first year of production the engines, which ranged from 1.0l to 1.6l, were equipped with carburetors which was changed to fuel injection in subsequent years. In its 1996 entry level trim it sported a 1.0l, four cylinder engine rated at 49 horsepower. One hundred kilometers per hour was reached in a leisurely 19.2 seconds and if you kept it floored it would eventually reach a top speed of 150kph (93mph).

Peugeot 106 (from
Following in the tire tracks of the trend setting 205, the hot hatch version of the 106 did not disappoint. Equipped with a 1.6l DOHC 16 valve 116hp engine the 106GTI produced a 1-100 time of 8.7 seconds, less than half the time the base model needed, and a top speed of 205kph (127mph). A recent Classics and Sports Car article summed it up this way... "Featherweight and gifted with sharp steering, the iconic 106 GTI proved to be hugely entertaining."

Peugeot 106GTI from TTAC article linked below.
Next we hop over the English Channel and take a look at the '95-'99 Rover 200, a replacement for the aging Rover Metro. The econobox version of the 200 had a 1.4l 8v four cylinder engine under its bonnet rated at 74hp. Of the econoboxes in the series of posts it has the quickest 0-100kph time at only 12.2 seconds. A top speed of 165kph (103mph) puts it in the upper half of this group.

Rover 200
If you attended the 1997 Frankfurt Motor Show you would have seen the hot hatch version of the 200, the 200BRM. The engine was upgraded to a 1.8l  DOHC 16 valve piece pumping out 145hp. Its 0-100 time was 8.3 seconds which is almost half a second less that the Peugeot 106 GTI. Top speed was the same as the Peugeot at 205kph (127mph). This hot hatch is named after BRM (British Racing Motors), a championship Formula One racing team active from 1951 to 1977. The 200BRM was only available in "Brooklands Green" with a red leather interior. Sixteen inch alloy wheels were fitted and the nose sported an orange snout in its bumper in homage to the BRM racecars of the 1960s. Other upgrades over its tamer stablemates were a lowered, firmer suspension and a limited slip differential in its close ratio transaxle. Less than 1200 were produced and of those a mere 350 were destined for markets other than the UK.

Rover 200BRM ©Rover/Newspress
Follow these links for more on the cars featured in this week's post:
The next installment of this series will take us back to France to have a look at a Renault and a Citroen. If you have a favorite hatch, hot or econo, from Europe (or anywhere else for that matter) let us know in the comments section below.

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