SAM’S SLOT: Is this the best hot hatch ever?
The hot hatchback market is highly competitive and car manufactures will push engineering boundaries to create the best one possible. Over the years we have seen many great hot hatchbacks such as the Ford Focus RS and Renault 5 Turbo. The first proper hot hatch was the Volkswagen Golf GTi and this was seen as one of the best examples. However, in 1984 Peugeot launched the 205 GTI which had both fantastic performance and handling. The question is however, is the Peugeot 205 GTI good enough to own the hot hatchback crown?
The original Peugeot 205 GTI had a 1.6 litre engine, which produced 105hp. The car had enough performance to be quick in a straight line, but Peugeot gave the GTI good handling that enabled the car to corner quickly as well. Owners of the GTI had to be take care however, because if you went too fast into a bend the rear of the car could easily lose grip and you could spin. However, the GTI was not disappointment as the car was not only fast, but practical as well. Even though Peugeot only ever made the 205 GTI as a 3-door there was plenty of room in the back for adults, and there was enough boot space to fit your weekly supermarket shop.
Due to the success of the 205, Peugeot decided to make a 1.9 litre version to go alongside the original 1.6 litre model. The more powerful car produced 130hp and could reach a top speed of 127mph. This model of was very similar to the 1.6 litre version, however, it became very popular due to it having excellent performance.
My Dad is the proud owner of a 1990 Peugeot 205 GTI. The car has been used for grass auto tests and was competitive at these events. However, a couple of years ago the head gasket on the car blew and it took a long time for my Dad to get his GTI back on the road. It ran well until we used the car for an Autosolo at Donnington where once again the head gasket broke. My Dad opted to change the engine completely and the car was running well when another fault occurred and the car is now off the road. The 205 is now underneath a warm blanket waiting to be fixed, but I think my Dad would like to give it a proper restoration when he has the time. There is the option to fit the engine out of the Peugeot 306 GTI-6, however, I think my Dad would like to keep the car in its original state. In any event, the car has done well considering it is 26 years old.
The Peugeot 205 had rallying success back in the 1980’s with the uprated 205 known as the Turbo 16. In 1984 Peugeot and Talbot teamed up to race in the World Rally Championship and won 3 rallies in their first year of competition. However, the car only had 200hp which meant it was at a huge disadvantage to the other rally cars being used at the time. The team manager of Peugeot Talbot Sport Jean Todt, decided to boost the performance of the rally car and in 1985 the Peugeot 205 T16 Evo 2 was born. The car now had 450hp and went on to win the 1985 and 1986 Constructor’s and Driver’s World Rally Championship.
Peugeot then made 200 road-going T16’s to homologate the T16 rally car. They used the two door version of the 205 and gave it four-wheel-drive and 200hp.Peugeot made changes to the T16 so that it stood out compared to the standard 205 GTI, giving it wider wheel arches and large air scoops on the bonnet and sides of the car. The T16 wasn’t an exact copy of the Group B rally car, but it was superb to drive and remains a recognisable hot hatch that stands out from any other cars made in that era.
The 205 GTI is in my mind the best hot hatch to enter the automotive world and will go down as an icon of the motoring industry. It is often compared with the Golf GTI, however, without the Golf would we have had the 205? Perhaps not, but in my opinion Peugeot created a more refined and exciting hot hatch. They nailed the 205 in every aspect and should be proud of their achievement. The 205 GTI is probably the best car Peugeot have ever made and will continue to be the car to beat in the hot hatch market.