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Peugeot 205 GTI/CTI

Published: 20th Apr 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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What is a Peugeot 205 GTi?

You mean you’ve never driven one or travelled in this 80’s performance hero? VW may have invented the GTi back in 1976 but it was Peugeot who discovered pocket-rocket science with its brilliant 205GTi. It’s a sort of grown up Mini Cooper S but far more practical and versatile. And although Peugeot has continued the bloodline with the 206GTi, nothing has ever quite come close to this masterpiece. Small wonder then that the Gti already has a huge fan club and is already being as hailed as a classic.

History

The 205 GTi hit the streets in 1984. Along with the Fiat Uno Turbo, the pair redefined small performance motoring. Initially powered by a vivid 1.6-litre engine with fuel injection, it fed its 105bhp via a five-speed ‘box to the front wheels. Holding it all down was an advanced independent suspension stopped by a conventional discs/drum braking system. In 1986 major changes took place and the hugely popular Pug completely lost its head to become the CTi Also an even faster 130bhp GTi hatch was introduced, care of a beefier 1.9-litre engine and allround disc brakes.

The smaller 1.6 remained with a 10bhp power hike thanks to the larger-valved 1.9-head being installed. This was about the sum total of the changes until the car bowed out in 1994. An improved dash was fitted in the late 80s, while the 1.6 was discontinued in 1991 – elevating the CTi to 1.9-litres. A year later a cat was plumbed in, dropping the power slightly.

Driving

The fact that Peugeot has yet to replace the GTi in terms of driving thrills tells you everything. On the right roads a good one is still hugely entertaining and incredibly quick. But those razor-sharp reflexes come at a price and the 205 is notorious for its flick over steer on a closed throttle. Catching the slide is made harder due to the GTi’s heavy steering (power steering was extra on later models) that ‘loads up’ when cornering. The open-topped Cti handles not nearly as well and is regarded more a fashion statement.

Most experts reckon that, although the 1.9 is notably quicker, the sweeter 1.6 is the more satisfying drive. 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 and high levels of refinement for this class of car. Add a roomy hatch and the 205GTi is a car for all reasons.

Prices

Prices for good GTis are rising. Sure you can buy sheds for £1000 or less, but they will be uneconomical to restore – unless you want to keep it for spares (a good idea, too). As the top models hover around the £4-5000 mark, they are hardly overpriced. Expect to pay £3000 for a good usable car with some service history.

There are plenty of tuned and customised models on sale and these are hard to value. Some modifications make the car sparkle but eventually it will be the best of the original standard models that will command the most money and future classic status.

What To Look For

  • Rust and bent cars are the biggest worries. Neglected 205s corrode badly, there are many stolen/resold ‘ringed’ cars around and even if the car is genuine, a lot have been crashed and cobbled up. So inspect all cars thoroughly and even have it expertly vetted if you are unsure of its condition. Similarly, drive as many cars as you can to get a good feel of it
  • .
  • Look for over-spray under the arches or on body mouldings, in the engine bay, and the boot floor (inner Peugeot panels have a matt unfinished look). Check the panel gaps and look at the chassis legs for fresh paint and any new suspension and steering components.
  • Look for the dreaded bug in all the usual areas, such as the wings, bonnet and hatch edges and the rear arches in particular. Peugeot paint wasn’t that good at the time. If a sunroof has been fitted (or on the CTi of course) check the floor for dampness and resultant corrosion.
  • 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 36,000 miles. 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
  • .
  • Transmissions take 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 the minor matter of needing new bushes and links.
  • Suspensions wear with ease, the most common spots are the front wishbones anti-roll bar bushes and steering joints. Rear axles are a real problem spot and very expensive of you require a complete unit. Generally the bearings collapse due to age or a previous prang and a new assembly (plus fitting) won’t leave you much change out of a grand… 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.
  • A good GTi will drive like a dream feeling good and tight, crisp and eager. If you find that a car pulls to one side, wanders or handles strangely then penny to a pound it’s spun off the road before with dire consequences!
  • According to 205/309 aficionado John Pullman of the Club Peugeot UK club good original 205s are become rarer. Dodgy torsion rear axles are the biggest worry but spares are still in abundance. Leading specialist Shenpar
  • Motorsport (01332 862901) is a major player in the 205 Challenge – a highly popular race series that allows owners to compete on a budget.

 

Verdict

Two 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 far too many tired and bodged cars around. And a lot of ‘so called’ hotted-up versions only spoil that great blueprint that’s still the benchmark for every rival to match, let alone beat.



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