The 206 was responsible for transforming Peugeot from a small and innocuous importer into a serious player in South Africa.
Powered by an involving 2,0-litre 16-valve engine credited with a power output of 99 kW at 6000 r/min and a 190 Nm torque peak at 4 100 r/min, there was simply nothing on the market to match the sizzling and thoroughly modern little hot hatch - Renault's legendary 2,0-litre Clio Sport that arrived during 2001.
Hence the introduction of the 206 GTi.
The fully featured safety and luxury package comprised full climate control, a CD receiver sound system with satellite controls, on-board computer, ABS brakes, four airbags, automatic windscreen wipers with rain sensors and a whole lot more.
Such was the success of the GTi that it was nominated as a finalist in the 2001 SA Car of the Year competition, while its popular status was further boosted with numerous high-profile World Rally Championship titles between 2000 and 2002.
It took a full year before the range was boosted with two less expensive five-door derivatives, in the form of the 1.6 XT (80 kW/147 Nm) and the entry-level 1.4 XR (55 kW/111 Nm), priced at R108 445 and R92 450 respectively..
Peugeot created a stir with the introduction of the trend-setting 206 CC coupe'-cabriolet later in 2001. With a clever folding hard-top transforming the car from comfy coupe' to sun-seeking cab at the touch of a button, it certainly appealed to a whole new market. Offered in 1,6 and 2,0-litre spec, it carried sticker prices of R176 989 and R190 020 respectively.
Practicality was clearly the main attraction in the case of the 206 SW. As an estate version of the popular hatch, the SW was 190 mm longer and boasted an additional 68 dm3 storage capacity, along with a raft of innovative loading options and configurations.
Several years down the line, the 206 GTi was still selling fairly well, but Peugeot desperately needed a more powerful model to counter the superb 124 kW Renault Clio Sport - and it delivered just that in the spirited GTi 180 RC at the end of 2003.
Boasting a tuned 202 Nm/130 kW (or 180 hp, hence the badge) engine and significantly more extrovert detailing, larger 17-inch alloy wheels and a sporty interior, the liveliest of the little Peugeots certainly had the right mix of fun at a cost of R202 900. However, it simply never reached the volumes and resulting popular status of its Renault rival.
The changes continued in 2004 with a revised entry-level 1,4-litre X-Line version, along with the introduction of Peugeot's first diesel entrant in this sector - the 2.0 XT HDI. Priced at R159 900, the HDI produced 66 kW 4400 r/min, matched to a torque output of 205 Nm at 1750 r/min. Interestingly, this engine was subsequently superseded by the more advanced 1.4 HDI engine with corresponding figures of 50 kW and 160 Nm.
A variety of special edition models (such as the Rolland Garros) were also offered over the years, but these sold in relatively limited volumes.
Such was the success of the 206 design that it has remained essentially unchanged throughout its lifespan, which continues today (in entry-level Pop Art three and five-door, as well as SW and CC guises) as a more affordable alternative to the new 207 introduced in the second half of 2006.