Peugeot 205 GTI: Road car buying guide

Is this petit French fancy the greatest hot hatch of all time? Robert Ladbrook looks at the growing argument in favour of the Peugeot 205 GTI

Side view of Peugeot 205 GTI

Don’t you wish you’d kept hold of yours? The 1.6 GTI was launched in 1984, with a 1.9 arriving in ’86

Getty Images

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

Current page

181

Current page

182

Current page

183

Current page

184

Current page

185

Current page

186

Current page

187

Current page

188

Current page

189

Current page

190

Current page

191

Current page

192

Current page

193

Current page

194

Current page

195

Current page

196

Current page

197

Current page

198

Current page

199

Current page

200

Current page

201

Current page

202

Current page

203

Current page

204

The 1980s was a golden age for the hot hatch fan, and few did it better than the French. Sure, the Germans may have got there first with the mighty Volkswagen Golf GTI, but if you wanted a true lightweight, performance pocket-rocket, you just needed to look across the Channel.

While the Renault 5 GT Turbo also stakes a strong claim, arguably no hot hatch has ever been more sporting than Peugeot’s 205 GTI. It was so good that Peugeot has never managed to live up to it since, despite numerous attempts to recapture the magic of the 1984 original.

Launched in 1983, the Gerard Welter-designed 205 caused a significant stir straight away, netting a handful of high-profile awards for its sleek styling and keen performance. Despite original engines starting from a humble 954cc, the mixture of lightweight chassis (c.800kg) and fully independent suspension made the 205 a riot when things got twisty, and Peugeot quickly spotted its sporting potential.

Just a year later, the first GTI variant was launched, boasting a 105bhp 1.6-litre 8V engine. Equipped with that, the 205 could sprint to 60mph in 8.7sec and on to a top speed of 116mph – figures that already put it well in line with VW’s MkII GTI.

Jean Todt was a 205 fan and based Peugeot’s Group B rally contender on the two-door GTI

Then in 1986 Peugeot upped the ante further by fitting a 1.9-litre 130bhp unit to expand the GTI range, while also giving the 1.6 a jump up to 115bhp. Which one was better is a long-running topic of debate among enthusiasts and usually just came down to personal preference – whether you enjoyed the more peaky 1.6 or the extra torque of the 1.9 (some even insisted on mixing and matching gearboxes between the two in search of a ‘perfect’ GTI experience).

And if its road reputation was stellar, its motor sporting one is the stuff of legend. Jean Todt was a fan of the 205 and settled on basing Peugeot’s new Group B rally contender on the two-door GTI. Peugeot Talbot Sport rolled out the 205 T16 for 1984 as the hardest of hard-core hatchbacks. With its 1.8- litre turbocharged engine kicking out close to 400bhp and mounted right behind the driver, it shared little other than a silhouette with its road-going cousin. The 205 T16 would celebrate 16 WRC victories between 1984 and ’86.

Of course, to homologate such a machine, Peugeot also had to create 200 road-going variants, which have now become perhaps the most desirable (and valuable) hatchbacks for collectors. Despite lacking the four-wheel drive of the Group B monster and having half the power, the 205 Turbo 16 is as rare as hen’s teeth. One did sell recently at auction with Artcurial offering the final Turbo 16 ever produced, chassis 200, fetching £235,000 in July. Restored and low-mileage standard GTIs are becoming valuable regulars at accessible auctions.

One for saleRear view of Peugeot 205 GTI

1990 Peugeot 205 GTI

It may have 104,000 miles on it, but it’s a fully restored 1.9 in Solid Black with only four previous owners
£24,950
dcc.co.uk


Peugeot 205 GTI

Price new £6245 (£20,590 today)
Price now £10,000-£25,000
Engine 1.6 or 1.9 8V (1.8 T16)
Rivals Renault 5 GT Turbo, VW Golf GTI MkII, Vauxhall Astra GTE
Verdict Ultimately the perfect hot hatch comes down to personal choice, but this will top many people’s list