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The peugeot 306 was my first car, and I loved it. Mine was about 15 years old, and the 1.4 litre petrol engine always performed well, being perfectly nifty enough for me, and giving me confidence to overtake. I think in this respect the petrol version is superior to the diesel engine. The fuel economy was a little under average though, it is certainly not one of the cheapest cars to run. When I was driving the car though it was mostly in the lanes, which drinks petrol anyway, so this may not be a fair representation. My interior was a slightly nasty light brown, but I think the car looks great from the outside, as long as you purchase one that has been looked after. Rust was never a problem, which is more than can be said for a lot of older cars. Inside there is no CD player or air conditioning, but mine had electric windows and a sunroof, which was really handy in the summer. The car was comfy to drive, and had quite a bit of space for transporting things if you put the back seats down. The 306 did have a few reliability issues, needing a few jump starts, and a new exhaust, as well as the usual things like new tyres once in a while. As old cars go though I do not think it was any worse than average, and I never broke down, or had any really major problems. I only haven't still got the car because my father crashed it! I think peugeot make really sturdy little cars that look good and perform well, and I would definitely recommend the 306 to anyone.
My last three cars have been Vauxhall Nova's, the best being a 1.3SR, which i had spent time and money looking after and improving with resprays, alloys, and various other modifications. The SR was stolen from the place where I work, the feeling of walking outside and seeing an empty space where your baby car once sat is an undescribable feeling. After the SR i bought a £200 1.0 standard model. I had it for a year with no problems at all until i saved enough money to buy a better car. As much as i wanted to buy another Nova, i just couldnt bring myself to do, i just knew that i would be checking on it every five minutes, an worrying about it when i did leave it! So my next choice was a Pug 306, I can't really explain why I wanted one, whenever I look for a new car I always know what I want, so its just a case of finding it. The reasons for buying the 1.4 XN model were the insurance issue along with the buget. The 306 is a very modern looking car. The range started in 1993 with a redesign in 1996. My budget was around £2000, the plan was to buy a 1993 3dr 1.4 XR. The XN is the basic model followed by the XL and the XR, the 1.4 is the smallest engine size followed by the 1.6, 1.8, 2.0 petrol engines and the 1.9 diesel engine. The XN doesnt have a great deal of modern luxuries. As standard it comes with a 5 speed gear box, radio cassete, four speaker system..... and thats about all. However the luxuries people have come to expect are available on the XR model with electric windows, remote central locking, immobiliser, drivers air bag, body coloured bumpers, sunroof. So there is quite a leap. The car i actually went for was a red 1995 1.4 5dr XN. It was in incredibly good condition with an after market sunroof, full peugeot service history and only 50,000 miles. The reason i settled for this model was that the model i wanted was really hard to find and it seems that peugeot sold very little of that model. I am really happy with the car, the seats are comfortable the engine performs well (as well as can be expected for a 1.4) and it is very economical, the handling is excellent. Some of the things that i am unhappy with i have changed. I fitted a central locking kit, an alarm (CAT 1). It proved very frustrating especially with passengers to keep opening each door individually. I have also bought 17" wheels, which to my surprise fitted straight to the car with no modifications. Also body coloured bumpers which are a huge improvement to the general look of the car. As far as advice for buying: A service history (as with all cars) is very important. The head gasket went on mine at just 45,000 miles which seems odd but apparently is a common fault. Rust doesnt seem to be much of a problem so far, which is good news, but just check the obvious places (wheel arches, sills) The condition of the seats is worth checking on some models they tend to wear, which is also a sign of how the car has been treated. The engines are generally very reliable, so with a fsh high mileage shouldnt be a problem.