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Peugeot’s 205 GTi

Published: 1st Feb 2013 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Peugeot’s 205 GTi
Peugeot’s 205 GTi
Peugeot’s 205 GTi
Peugeot’s 205 GTi
Peugeot’s 205 GTi

Buyer Beware

  • Favourite rust places are base of B-pillars at the sill join, lower rear wing just above the sill immediately ahead of the rear wheels, front face of door inner shells where the hinges attach, inner front wing seams, rear bumper mountings, front panels behind the headlights, especially at the join with the chassis rails and on the lower edges. All are fairly easy to fix.
  • A crack in the seam between roof and side panel, just above the forward edge of the rear side window, is common but not serious unless water has got in and made it rust.
  • The engines are fairly robust but can become clattery (camshaft) and smoke after hard use (although the latter can be compounded by choked breather systems). Head gaskets can fail while cambelts should be replaced after every 36-40,000 miles to be on the safe side. Incidentally the 1.9-litre units are identified by a stamp located at the rear of the engine stating ‘XU9JA’ and this unit can also be found in the Citroen BX/ZX and the Peugeot 405 SRi/GTX.
  • The transmissions on these cars takes a pounding and are not the toughest. Check for undue noise (bearings) and clicking of lock, the latter signifying worn CV joints (the gaiters can split on theses with age, too). Differentials wear and the gear change should be slick and sweet. If not it’s only the minor matter of needing new bushes and links.
  • The suspension wears with ease, the most common spots are the front wishbones anti-roll bar bushes and steering joints. Rear axles are another problem spot and very expensive if you require a complete unit. Generally the bearings collapse due to age or a previous prang.
  • At the rear dodgy torsion rear axles are the biggest worry – many owners fit the beefier 309 assembly. If the car needs new dampers and springs, many experts recommend fitting genuine Peugeot bits to retain the car’s unique handling and ride qualities.


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If you’re after a modern, usable performance classic then Peugeot’s 205 GTi is king of the jungle but don’t overlook other cubs says Alan Anderson

Volkswagen may have invented the GTi back in 1976 but it was Peugeot who discovered pocket-rocket science with its brilliant 205GTi a decade later. It’s a sort of grown up Mini Cooper S (also featured in this issue - Ed) but far more practical and versatile as well as better value. Although Peugeot continues the bloodline 30 years since the 205’s launch (Jeez is it really that long? Ed), nothing has ever quite come close to the masterpiece that is the 205 GTi. Small wonder than that this small wonder retains a huge following and is now a classic.


The 205 GTi hit the streets in 1984 and along with the Fiat Uno Turbo, the pair lost its head to become the drop top CTi, which provided open air fun to go with its pace. The inevitable loss of shell rigidity, however, meant that it never quite matched the hatchback for driver appeal but good enough for most folks.

If the standard Pug wasn’t quick enough an, even faster 130bhp model was introduced the same year, care of a to 1.9-litres. A year later a cat was plumbed in, dropping the power slightly.What car for you depends on what you’re after from this Pug. The open-topped CTi isn’t as sharp and is regarded more a fashion statement but as the hatchbacks are most wanted you may strike a better car and a better deal. Finding a stock GTi is becoming harder all the time, as these cars have naturally become popular over the years for tuning and customising. Condition counts as – let’s be honest here – build quality wasn’t Peugeot’s strongest suit and they could become shabby quickly, especially if abused. And GTis are naturally driven hard – you just can’t help it.

At the recent excellent Stoneleigh Park Restoration Show we spied an entirely decent looking hatchback – in that oh-so right red – for around £2500 which looked great value to us. The days of £1000 buys are virtually gone unless you are after a project; so expect to pay £2500-£3000 for a good car and double this for a top one. Let’s face it, in classic car terms that’s cheap, especially if you view the 205GTi as a shrunken supercar that’s as much fun as the fab Ferraris we feature in this issue!

There is the exception, mind – the T16. This was a road-going replica of the simply awesome Group B rally machine, complete with a mad mid-engined 200bhp 1775cc engine and all wheel drive (the rally cars had 450bhp to play in the forests with!). As only 200 were made, you’re looking at £40,000-£100,000 to own one!

It would be selling the 205 range woefully short if the lesser versions weren’t also mentioned, not least because they all enjoy the same zesty nature. If you can’t find a good GTi then consider the warm rather than hot hatch versions such as the XS and XT which only lack ultimate pace. The entry 1.1 and 1.4 models are frugal and frisky but it would be folly in these days of sky-high fuel prices not to contemplate a diesel.

In fact if ever a diesel is going to make it as a classic then the 205 is it. The 1.8-litre oil burner has some real lust about it and in later Turbo D form is no mean performer, offering more mid range guts than the GTi can muster and well over 40mpg!

There were a smattering of specials worth looking at; the CJ, Juniors and the ultra plush Sceptre. In general terms a mainstream 205 is worth half to-two-thirds the value of a GTi.


Peugeot made pocket rocket science

Let’s get one thing straight. A good Peugeot 205 GTI doesn’t pitch you backwards into the hedge as soon as you lift off the accelerator. But ‘good’ here includes the tyres. On cheap rubber the demons come back to haunt you, and strong understeer can snap into oversteer on a slippery road. When new, too, there was an element of truth to the legend, but tyre technology has moved on and a properly-shod GTI – Michelin Pilot Exaltos, for example – feels wonderfully planted and confidence-inspringly benign.Don’t skimp on the footwear when you buy one.

Other questions are 1.6 or 1.9? Power steered or not? The 1.6 is arguably a bit smoother but its shorter gearing makes it a busy cruising companion and ultimately it’s slower. The 1.9 has a wonderfully long legged fi rst gear and an even, torquey delivery across a broad rev range. At under eight seconds to 60mph it’s still a right little squirt. Both are fine on 95-octane unleaded, despite past advice to use only super unleaded in a 1.9.

Parking can be hard work without power steering, but the road feel is staggeringly clear especially in a 1.9 with its lower-profile tyres. The powered system is very good of its type, and the rack’s higher gearing makes it more responsive at low speeds, but even the non-PAS cars steer much more eagerly around the centre than 3.7 turns lock-to-lock suggest. And torque steer – the bane of a hot fwd classic – is impressively absent. Ride quality is remarkably supple by modern hot-hatch standards, and best on OE Peugeot dampers (which Peugeot actually makes, or made, itself). Very early 105bhp cars had a more jittery ride, soon changed in production. If any are left they’ll probably have had softer dampers by now.

Gear change should be light and quick, with little slop. Favourite fault if action is sloppy is a loose pivot bolt for the bell crank, easily remedied. New pivot bushes which are inexpensive, help too.


A good GTi won’t pitch you backwards!

Sure thing! The 205 was the epitome of modern motoring back in the 80s that’s still the preserve of today’s motorist; a small, roomy versatile hatchback that provided the room and comfort of a saloon but with the similar practicality of a small estate when needed. Economy is impressive with a good in tune GTi returning around 30mpg – expect at least 10mpg more from a diesel.

Even now, the 205 doesn’t unduly show its age. Performance, especially from the GTis (and the gutsy diesels), is well up to modern standards as is the handling. Only a heavy steering (optional

The low-speed snatching found on 1.9s due to its fuel injection set up is annoying to say the least but this can be eradicated with a performance ECU ‘chip’ (try Superchips) as well as further improving the Peugeot’s already razor-sharp throttle response.

When you’re not in the mood to party (it’s hard not to be!) the GTi shows its other side with a typically Peugeot compliant ride, comfortable seats, a good modern heating and ventilation system, and high levels of refinement for this class of car. Add a roomy hatch and the 205GTi – or any 205 for that matter – is a classic car for all reasons. And if you’re after a practical daily driver or a cheap runabout as a second or third car, few classics are as sensible as a diesel 205.


The 205 may now be regarded as a banger in the trade but spares support and back up remains good. Body panels are not a problem but the fact that you may need them might be thanks to flimsy panels known for rusting. A yearly dousing with Waxoyl is a wise if tedious job. Rust isn’t a big problem as the shell is partgalvanised but these cars are getting old now. B-pillar rust are more common in the majority of GTIs than in lesser 205s because the firmer suspension and higher cornering loads strain the rather flexible bodyshell more.

Most of oily bits you need for routine replacements are still attainable over the counter at motor factors and there’s a fair degree of interchangability with other, later models. Cambelts should be replaced around the 40,000 mile mark because if it breaks the pistons and valves will meet in an expensive manner and head gaskets are also known failures.

Transmissions can be rather fragile, especially if been used hard, but generally it’s a car that can easily be looked after at home. There’s a sizable army of specialists and clubs to help out, too – not least Peugeot itself who, if you ask the UK factory nicely, will undertake major repairs and even restorations with original equipment parts at competitive rates!



205 hatchback launched to replace 104 range in three and five-door confi gurations. Front-wheel drive with orthodox suspension, engines span from 954cc to 1905cc with, four and five-speed transmissions fitted


1.6 GTi introduced with 105bhp and 99lbft of torque. Retuned chassis and a sporting look but as a three-door only. With a weight of just 850kg, it provided zesty pace but handling was too edgy – retuned by Peugeot early on


Revamp with minor cabin alternations. Drop-top CTi initially as a 1.6 only. An even more ferocious lion was introduced, the 1.9GTi, featuring 130bhp power taken from vastly underrated 309. 1.6 continues but power is hiked to 115bhp thanks to the larger-valved 1.9-head fitted


Minor refresh with detailed cosmetic changes (the Pininfarina design was considered so right that Peugeot sensibly didn’t make change just for the sake of it)


1.6 range dropped in 1991 but perky 1.8 turbodiesel is introduced, while mandatory fi tment of catalyst on 1.9 a year later sees power drop slightly. The 205 is phased out in 1995, with some staying in dealers until P-registrations impressively absent. Ride quality is remarkably supple by modern hot-hatch standards, and best on OE Peugeot dampers (which Peugeot actually makes, or made, itself). Very early 105bhp cars had a more jittery ride, soon changed in production. If any are left they'll probably have had softer dampers by now.
Gear change should be light and quick, with little slop. Favourite fault if action is sloppy is a loose pivot bolt for the bell crank, easily remedied. New pivot bushes which are inexpensive, help too.

We Reckon...

Three decades after its launch and the case for owning a Peugeot 205 GTi is as compelling as ever. They still look superb and drive just as well – providing you get a good one. Sadly there are too many tired and bodged cars around while a lot of so-called hotted-up versions spoil that great blueprint that’s still the benchmark for every rival to match let alone beat after all these years.

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