A RM7,000 French (Almost) Car – 2006 Naza 206 Bestari Review

Engine: 1.4L TU3JP I4 8 Valve SOHC

Year: 2006

Drive train: Front Wheel Drive

Transmission: 4-speed Automatic

Second hand value (2017): ~RM7,000


Backstory

To wrap up the weekend we managed to get our hands on a Naza 206 Bestari way back from 2006. Yes, this is a rebadged Peugeot 206 but it has one feature that the Peugeot doesn’t – a manual automatic gear. We’ll get to that later. The Peugeot 206 was first introduced in 1998 so the look of this car dates even further back than 2006. It’s almost 20 years old already by design. Naza assembled the 206 in Gurun for the Malaysian market. The fact that the 206 was CKD gave it a price advantage over other European or even Japanese imports that were CBU. In 2006 this sold at around RM68,000 and has depreciated to around RM7,000 today in 2017. That is almost 10 times less. French cars don’t do so well here. Even a 2004 Perodua Kelisa will cost you at least RM10,000.


Is this good news if you’re looking for a car under RM10k? We’ll see about it.


What Is It Like to Drive?



Do keep in mind that a road going 1.4L Naza 206 is not the same as the WRC Peugeot 206. The 4-speed automatic gearbox of the Naza 206 is sluggish. I never thought I would drive a car with a worse 4-speed automatic gearbox than my own car but now I have. I guess this is why they provide the manual automatic gear for you.



This is not what the Naza 206 is.

The seats are great, providing good side/shoulder support for you. I think they’re called semi bucket seats. Good for high speed cornering although you wouldn’t be doing so much of that in this car. I don’t do much research before I test drive a car because I’d like to remember what elements surprised me during my first experience. That way I can give you a more interesting point of view. However, I did get into this car expecting a small, fun, and quick car. The only thing it was, was small. Turns out the Naza 206 is really just a runabout vehicle. Only the 1.4 L automatic version was available when Naza first launched the 206 in Malaysia. It was cool though to feel how a French car drives like. Peugeot was probably just trying to slowly phase out production of the 206’s parts and this was a good opportunity for them.



Since this is a 11-year-old car I wasn’t surprised to hear creaking sounds from the back when driving over speed bumps or uneven surfaces. I assumed the sounds were just a sign of age, until I read through Paul Tan’s Test Drive Review (12 December 2006). It looks like this was a problem even from day one. Besides that, the steering wheel rattles when you idle (Not an exclusive Proton problem).


This is an old car by design (1998) so essential car controls are still old fashion (the way I like it). It comes with hydraulic power steering and mechanical throttle control. The air conditioning isn’t great. It could be loud and not cooling at the same time and it takes a while to get a comfortable ambience. The AC controls are the same as the European market model so you get the red zone for the heater. There is no heater, though.


The engine start can be unpleasantly loud but I forgive that for an old car. It will feel obvious to you that you are driving an older car – it sits lower than newer hatchbacks, there’s the good weight of a hydraulic power steering, you don’t get fancy thick A-Pillar designs, and the interior design is clearly late 1990s/early 2000s.


Manual Auto Mode



This is probably the most interesting feature in the Naza 206 Bestari. It is a feature only available to the Naza 206. The Peugeot 206 only comes equipped with a standard 4-speed automatic.


When in “D”, you can push to the gear to the left to enter tiptronic mode. You can push forward to shift up and pull backward to shift down. This lets you select gears from the 4-speed automatic gearbox. Rumor has it this tiptronic feature was designed by Porsche.


I do find this handy because the automatic gearbox shifts a little too late, or doesn’t know when to downshift. This feature is also handy for short-shifting all the way to save fuel. In the “full auto” mode it tends to stretch 3rd gear quite long, and although that is beneficial for a not-so-steep incline, it gets annoying when you are just trying to get into 4th and cruise on a flat road. You end up revving up to almost 5000rpm before shifting into 4th sometimes. So yes, in cases like this the tiptronic can come in handy.


There are some more things about this manual auto feature.


Let’s say you’re driving in tiptronic at a decent speed. The idiot in front of you decides to brake all of a sudden and comes to a complete halt. You hit the brakes hard while you’re in 4th and don’t down shift. Does the car stall? No, it doesn’t. Because the system will help you downshift to 1st as soon as it detects an RPM reading of below 1000. Pretty smart.


Although the tiptronic let’s you choose gears, it also does its own thinking. It won’t let you stretch 2nd gear and will shift up to third whenever it deems appropriate. Look closely at the gear selector above and you will notice an “S” button and another button with a snowflake icon. The “S” is for sport mode (for sportier gear changes) and the snowflake is for mud/winter mode which starts the car in 2nd gear for better traction in slippery conditions.



The gear display reminds me of a WRC video game.


Should You Get this French Car?

People say maintaining a French car is expensive. They also depreciate very quickly in Malaysia. Just look at how much this little Peugeot has depreciated. Looking at online forums, the Peugeot 206 does have tendency for electrical issues. The one I test drove however, has never stranded the owner by the side of the road or failed catastrophically. Sounds comforting enough.


I say, if you desperately need a car for daily commute and have a less than RM10,000 budget, this might be, just might be, on your compare list next to a used Perodua Kelisa. I like the Kelisa – it is a small fun car. But I’m just going to lay the facts for you here. The Peugeot 206 does have a 4 star NCAP rating (so do the Axia and new Myvi) and comes with 2 frontal air bags. And there’s a side impact test too. Although the side impact looks definitely painful, I’d have more confidence in a 206 than a Kelisa when it comes to safety.


Peugeot 206 NCAP report




The 206 does get a 4 star NCAP rating but the A-Pillar still does buckle. It does seem at least little safer than the 2004 Kelisa. But for a safer micro car, the new Axia looks more convincing to me for the time being.




You can target to sell the Naza 206 off at a used car dealer after a few years of service (When you are more financially capable). You could even get some money back (not much, but it will help).


Other than having a really tight budget for a safe runabout vehicle, I don’t see a reason to buy the Naza 206. Unless you need a cheap good chassis for a crazy project to convert one into a junior rally car and have some fun with it. The Naza 206 does come in a 5-speed manual version (released in 2007).



Image source: London Rally School Oxfordshire


French Features


I don’t think I’ve ever pronounced this correctly



Cupholders in the glove box compartment.



You’ll need your keys to open the fuel cap so no filling up with the engine on.

 


There is no heater



An option to turn the passenger airbags off? After watching mrregular's video, I now know that you would want to turn this off in case you put a child seat in the front passenger seat.



An audio system control stalk behind the steering wheel.



Window controls for all 4 windows are in the centre console.



A massive hazard light button.



A custom wiper fluid container cover (Not OEM part)

*Do note that this was originally made for the left-hand drive market so the hood release lever is on the passenger side of the car.


Conclusion



For a small car with decent safety features, this is pretty cheap in the 2nd hand market. I wouldn’t hold onto it for too long though.


Until then.

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