The Peugeot 206 is a characterful car. Its playful, buoyant design harkens back to that late-’90s period when the Western world thought everything was still on the up and up. Beyond the hatch we all know and love, it also got a cute convertible version, a weird wagon, and even a sedan from Peugeot’s Iranian industrial partner. But most interesting of all? The Peugeot 206 actually became a ute, and a darn handsome one at that.
The ute, as a type of vehicle, stands distinct from the pickup truck. The difference is traditionally defined such that a ute is a car-based vehicle with a cargo tray integrated into the body, while pickups feature a separate cargo bed and are usually truck-based designs. Thus, a work vehicle based on a Peugeot 206 very firmly fits in the ute category. Just like the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon utes that were the standard-bearers for the format until their untimely deaths in the late 2010s.
Here’s the best part, though. It’s not called the Peugeot 206 Utilitaire, or the Transporteuse, or the Porter. No, this very special little ute is called the Peugeot Hoggar. Kinda has a piggy nature to it, but it’s really fun to say. As much as I enjoy saying it with an Australian twang, Peugeot itself established a more French pronunciation—”ogár.” One can imagine a beguiling Parisienne uttering that in dulcet tones in an avant-garde commercial. However, the one advert I’ve found does nothing of the sort. If you speak Portuguese, tell us all what they’re saying here.
The Hoggar came about due to Peugeot’s efforts to make sales in developing markets. The company had established outposts across the world in places like China, Iran, India and South America. It was assembled in the company’s Porto Real, Brazil factory from 2010 to 2014. It provided buyers with a compact and capable ute with modern, mostly up-to-date looks.
As covered by NetCarShow, The Peugeot Hoggar was developed for the latter market, wearing the distinctive front end of the Peugeot 206. Or, more accurately, the Peugeot 207 Brasil, a facelift of the 206 that was distinct from the next-generation European-market 207. The front-running gear, including the independent McPherson strut suspension, was straight off that car. The rear-end used components borrowed from Peugeot’s Partner van, with the transverse torsion-bar layout providing for a flat load floor.
So, it was a quick slap-together job, right? Well, developing a car for production is never easy, and never, ever cheap. Peugeot spent almost $100 million real, or somewhere in the vicinity of $50 million USD based on historical exchange rates. It enlisted 320 technicians and engineers in the project to develop the vehicle over a three-year period. It was put through over 620,000 miles of testing (1 million kilometers) prior to launch.
Peugeot was quite proud of the vehicle, and what it meant for the company’s efforts to sell in foreign markets. “A world first, it revives the historical savoir-faire of the Marque by merging it with the future,” read the launch press release in 2010. “HOGGAR subtly combines the robustness and reliability of a pick-up with the design and dynamism that distinguishes the Marque.” Savoir-faire, fancy stuff, right? Peugeot wasn’t being pretentious, just French.
Interestingly, Peugeot was openly presumptive about its customer base, especially surprising given the era. “HOGGAR, the pick-up by Peugeot, seductive, dynamic and robust targets a mainly male customer base who are looking for a versatile vehicle with a distinctive style,” read the press release. So what, the ladies can’t get amongst the Hoggar?! Pish, tosh.
Fittingly for the South American market, it was available with a selection of flex-fuel engines capable of running on gasoline or the locally-popular ethanol fuels. Naturally, it stuck with the transverse, front-engined, front-wheel-drive layout of the hatchback it was based on. There was an 8-valve, 1.4-liter engine good for 81 horsepower. Alternatively, you could upgrade to the more sophisticated 16-valve, 1.6-liter engine for a significantly better 111 hp. Acceleration wasn’t swift; the latter engine would take around 14.5 seconds to get you from zero to 60 mph.
The Hoggar wasn’t built for large cargo or heavy-duty hauling, but that wasn’t the point. It was a nifty light-commercial vehicle for handling smaller jobs and day-to-day work. It had a load volume of 40 cubic feet, and could haul a payload of up to 1636 pounds (742 kg). Nothing huge, nothing crazy, but plenty for lots of construction workers, tradespeople, and farmers.
Helpfully, the Hoggar featured a step on the side of the bed to aid access to the cargo area. This also served as an extractor vent, helping bring fresh air into the cabin—something Peugeot actually patented, apparently. It also had extra underbody protection for the engine’s sump to avoid disasters on rough roads. It even came with roof racks, which is a nice utilitarian touch.
The Hoggar’s good looks, borrowed from the Peugeot 206, didn’t hurt it in the slightest. It’s actually impressive how well the classic 206 front end looks on a ute design, particularly with the little ruggedized bumper up front. Further boosting its credentials as a weird little cutie, it ran 14-inch tires and was only available as a manual. You can tailgate in it too; the panel is removable, and also rated to withstand over 600 pounds if you prefer to sit on it.
Details on the Hoggar are scarce, especially so in English. Given the truck was built by a French company and was produced pretty much exclusively for South America, that’s perhaps unsurprising. Contemporary reviews tell us a little about how the truck was received, though.
UOL noted the Hoggar behaved more like a passenger car than a commercial vehicle, indicating that it drove far better when it was not carrying a load. It praised the Hoggar with handling like a hatch, with particularly good stability in the turns unlike other similar vehicles. It did ding the model for lacking ABS, though credited the dual airbags available as standard. It also noted that, in its first year, Peugeot had failed in its goal to claim 10% of Brazil’s ute market, which would have been around 29,000 vehicles. Instead, Peugeot sold just 4,000 the first year out. Sales data is hard to come by, but the model ended production in 2014, suggesting it wasn’t taking over in quite the way Peugeot had hoped.
Meanwhile, in 2010, Autos Segredos credited the serviceability of the vehicle, as well as its quality brakes, gearbox, and climate control. It also pointed out that the engine tended to rev relatively high, cresting over 3,000 rpm in 5th gear at 60 mph. As a hint at how the Brazilian market differs from the US, the Hoggar was also celebrated as well-sealed against water and dust ingress. Negative points included the paint finish and panel gaps, and the difficulty of accessing and changing the spare tire.
Even better, there are a handful of modified Hoggars out there looking dope as all hell. It appears popular to slam the Hoggar super-low on upsized wheels, albeit without the camber typical of the stance scene. Other than that, most owners seem largely satisfied with the model’s existing good looks.
The Hoggar really is a handsome thing. It manages to take a fancy French hatch and turn it into a purposeful workaday companion, and it does so well. There would be plenty of joy in driving one, though their obscurity and foreign nature will challenge you to bring one into the US. If you can’t make it down to South America, you’ll only have to wait until 2035 to drive one of your very own.
Image credits: Peugeot