The Peugeot 205 was a supermini automobile produced by the French manufacturer Peugeot between 1983 and 1998.
Widely regarded as a modern classic, the 205 is often credited as the car which turned Peugeot's fortunes around. Before the 205, Peugeot was considered the most conservative of France's "big three" car manufacturers, producing worthy but dull large sedans such as the 504 and 505. The genesis of the 205 lay within Peugeot's takeover in 1978 of Simca, which had the necessary expertise in making small cars. Early 205s used the "Douvrin" engine from the older Peugeot 104, although these were later replaced with the newer XU and TU-series engines, which were of PSA design. Engines ranged from 954 cc to 1905 cc engine displacement, in carburetor or fuel injected petrol and Diesel versions.
The 205 was an instant hit, and the styling parameters that it set were echoed in every Peugeot model that was to follow. Incredibly, the styling was never face lifted or altered once in its 15-year production run, apart from a dashboard redesign for model year 1987 and a face lift in late 1990 gave the 205 new door design and cards, clear front indicators new rear lights SPI and Catalytic converters introduced.
205 production was gradually slowed down following the introduction of the joint replacement models, the 106, and 306, and eventually stopped in 1998, but amid pressure from the market, the company finally built a direct replacement in the 206, which was launched in 1998. Over 5,278,000 Peugeot 205s have been produced.
High performance variants
The GTi versions came in either 1.6 or 1.9 litre configuration, and are considered to be among the most popular hot hatches of the era. Compared to modern cars they are difficult to handle but offer a very rewarding driving experience when mastered.
The 1.6 GTi came with a XU5J engine, producing 105 bhp DIN (77 kW), for the 1987 model year the XU5J received the cylinder head with larger valves from the 1.9 GTi's XU9JA engine thus becoming XU5JA. The new engine was quoted for 115 bhp (85 kW). The 1.9 GTi came with a XU9JA engine producing 130 bhp DIN (96 kW), although later models with a catalytic converter produced 122 bhp DIN (89 kW). Internally these engines are very similar, the main differences on 1.9 litre versions being the longer stroke, oil cooler, and some parts of the fuel injection system. The shorter stroke 1.6 litre engine is famed for being revvy and eager, while the 1.9 litre feels lazier and torquier. Outside the engine bay the main differences between the 1.6 GTi and the 1.9 GTi are half leather seats (1.9GTi) vs. cloth seats (1.6 GTi); and disc brakes all round (1.9 GTi) vs. discs at the front and drum brakes at the back (1.6 GTi); as well as the 14 inch alloy wheels (1.6 GTi) vs. 15 inch alloys (1.9 GTi).
The 205 took the crown away from Volkswagen for the king of GTis, and is still mentioned to this day in group car tests of the newest GTI models or equivalent. Peugeot itself has never truly recreated this success in future GTi models. A cabrio version, known as the CJ (or CT in France), was designed and partially assembled by Pininfarina of Italy. A CTi version, with the same plastic arches, engine and wheels as the 1.6 GTi was also available.
The main aesthetic difference between the GTi/CTi versions and other 205 models were the plastic wheel arches and trim, beefier front and rear bumper valances. The shell also underwent some minor changes, including larger wheel arches (to suit the larger wheels on the GTi and CTi), and the suspension was redesigned and sat lower on the GTi.
Sales of the GTi in the early 1990s were badly hit by soaring insurance premiums, brought about by high theft and 'joyriding' of cars of this sort. Increasingly stringent emissions regulations meant the 1.6GTi went out of production in 1992, while the 1.9 was sold for a couple more years thanks to re-engineering of the engine to enable it to work properly with a catalytic converter.
From 1988 to 1992 Peugeot produced another variant of the 205, the 205 Rallye, which was engineered and produced by Peugeot-Talbot sport. This edition of the 205 was positioned as a cost effective alternative to the 205 GTI, retaining its sporty character, but being less expensive to buy or maintain.
To achieve this, Peugeot used a derivative of the TU-series engine used in the post-1987 205's, which was designated TU2.4. The engine is essentially the same engine as was in the 1.1 litre 205 with the cylinders drilled out to a total engine displacement of 1294cc, a sports camshaft and twin Weber carburetors. While only a 1.3 litre engine, it still produced 103 bhp DIN (76 kW) at no less than 6800 rpm. The car got the 1.9 GTI front suspension with ventilated brake discs, and the 1.6 GTI rear axle with drum brakes.
The 205 Rallye was completely stripped of almost all soundproofing, electrical systems or other luxury items, bringing down the weight to no more than 794 kg. Its minimalist equipment, together with the high revs needed to unleash all of the engine's horsepower gives the 205 Rallye a very Spartan character and makes it a difficult but rewarding car to drive hard, which is one of the reasons it is now very popular among 205 GTI enthusiasts. Around 30,000 Rallyes were produced, and they were only sold in some countries on the European mainland (at least in France, Belgium and The Netherlands). This, together with the fact that a lot of these cars have been wrecked because it is a difficult (and for some drivers even dangerous) car to drive makes the 205 Rallye a very rare car nowadays. It is almost impossible to buy one in good shape anymore because Rallye owners now tend to hold on to their cars, knowing it will be a classic in the not too distant future.
The distinctive aesthetic features of the 205 Rallye are that they are all white, have white plastic wheel arches which are only found on this model, the steel white rims and the rainbow colored Peugeot-Talbot sport decals on the front grille and the tailgate. The Rallye was sold with a reduced-weight interior with the Peugeot-Talbot sport logo embroidered in the front chairs.
From 1990 to 1992 Peugeot also built a 1.9 litre version of the 205 Rallye. Only about 1000 of them were produced and they were only sold in Germany, because the 1.3 version did not meet German road regulations. The 1.9 Rallye is just a 105 bhp 1.9 GTI with the Rallye body shell and the new-style clear indicators and rear light units. Although they are even rarer than the 1.3 Rallye, they are less popular among Peugeot enthusiasts, because they lack the raw and Spartan character of the 1.3 Rallye and are 150 kg heavier.
After the 205 Rallye, Peugeot again used the 'Rallye' designation for some of its 106 and 306 models. Peugeot also released a Rallye version of the 205 in Great-Britain, and used a 75bhp TU3.2 engine.
To homologate the 205 T16 Group B rally car, Peugeot had to produce 200 road-going examples. A photograph showing the 200 cars was famously rumored to be a fake. The road variants shared the transverse mid-engine, four-wheel drive layout of the rally car, but had much less power, at around 200 PS (147 kW). The T was for Turbo; the 16 for the 16 valves that the 4-cylinder 1.8 L engine had.
Outwardly similar to a normal 205, the T16 had wider wheel arches, and the whole rear section lifted up to give access to the engine. Underneath, the complex drive train from the rally car was kept to abide by the Group B rules. All 200 built were left-hand drive, so few reached the United Kingdom, where only 4 are known to exist. Unlike Group B rivals Ford Motor Company (with the RS200) and Lancia, Peugeot's road-based cars were never raced.
Peugeot produced some limited edition 205 GTI models over the car's life.
In 1990, 600 GTi's were made in the then new colors of Miami blue and Sorrento Green (a very dark metallic green). This model featured full grey leather interior and power steering. The cars were made in an equal mix of 150 blue 1.6, 150 green 1.6, 150 blue 1.9 and 150 green 1.9.
The Griffe was a limited edition for mainland Europe, and was sold in France, Germany and the Netherlands. It was bright green ('Laser' Green), and had grey carpet, dark grey anodized alloy wheels with a silver rim, and full black leather interior. Approximately 3,000 Griffes were made, and though never officially sold here, two to three are believed to have made it to the UK.
The 1FM was produced in 1992 to coincided with the 25th birthday of Radio 1. Only 25 were made, and each car was individually numbered with a small brass plate. Every one was black and had dark grey anodized alloy wheels with a silver rim. The car had every extra as standard including ABS, air conditioning, catalytic converter, full black leather interior, PAS and immobilizer. A special stereo system including a CD changer and an acoustic rear shelf was designed by Clarion especially for this car. The car had unique 'Radio 1' badging, and Radio 1 ran a competition on air to win one. When new the car cost over £17k, but then £5k of this went to a music charity.