Classic Drive: The Peugeot 205 GTi reminds us why perfection doesn’t always happen


In the case of modern performance cars it is very easy to catch up with the numbers. This is not an allegation of power exploration. Who can blame the creators for the one-upmanship? Whether it’s horsepower, 0-60 mph, torque, or top-speed, there’s no denying the headline value that comes with pushing spec sheet boundaries.

But sometimes, you need a drive behind the wheels of a retro car to get some perspective on things. The numbers often soften over time. When pouring on the classics, the figures are often given second attention, letting the real principles of a young timer come to the fore.

That said, with the 205 GTi, you can’t completely avoid discussing that number. Controversy surrounds the superiority of 105 hp (107 PS / 80 kW) (later 115 hp / 117 PS / 87 kW) 1.6 liters versus 130 bhp (132 PS / 989 kW), available in two flavors through its production. -Litter model rage will continue.

However, it seems ridiculous to say that the latter was a hairy-breasted brute compared to his younger siblings when today, 130 bhp (132 PS / 98 kW) and 161 Nm (119 lb-ft) are just enough to keep you away. Lots of dealers.

And yet the 205 GTi has no problem letting you know how deadly it can be. One of the main things to keep in mind is weight – or rather lack of it. Only 900 kg (1,984 lb) 1.9 GTi can sprint 0-62 mph (0-100 km / h) in 7.8 seconds and boasts a maximum speed of 127 mph (204 km / h).

Remember your basics

If modern cars do such a thing effortlessly, it is that they can detach you from your surroundings. Not often, this means that the motion sensing is dull – there is no such problem with the 205 GTi.

How Peugeot was able to shoe the larger engine into the engine bay is a feat in itself. Of course, this did not come without compromise. With larger engines, owners had to choose between air conditioning or power steering. Our subject car moved forward.

Sure, it makes driving in the city a chore, but the lack of electrical support really does get you back on time. Also, the interior is not plastic. Throughout the 80’s and 90’s, Peugeot was not well known for its quality interiors. The dashboard is made of a wide range of cheap-looking plastic, with trim pieces that threaten to break if you find them funny.

Related: Alfa Romeo 147 GTA V6 Everything else seems boring

The driving position is also close to the tarmac. You sit slightly obliquely on the steering wheel, and wearing wide shoes can either improve or inadvertently automate heel-and-foot gearchange.

These seemingly minor differences at first glance add somewhat flawed driving experience. At slow speeds, the heavy front end is stimulated by a twisted steering wheel that causes Poppy’s arm to rotate – something that is definitely not helped by chunky-profile rubber. Speed ​​up, and the internal noise and creek reminds you that even a Euro NCAP dummy would not volunteer to fire a shotgun. And a few more mops on my forehead are enough to let me know that the luxury of A / C is over at the last milepost.

It may sound obvious, but it’s not a car that enjoys the duality provided by modern hot hatches; Pocket rockets that are great on the back road, but can still give the comfort of a commuter car in most situations encountered in everyday driving.

Defective but perfect

If you keep scratching to highlight the fact that I’m missing the point of a forty year old hot hatch, I can’t agree more. However, it does make an important difference. We often see these cars with rose-tinted glasses, forgetting how good modern equipment is.

To avoid being disillusioned when you meet a hero, you can’t just buy a classic performance car at face value. It’s like meeting Andrea Boseli at the supermarket and being disappointed that she did. “It’s time to say goodbye.To truly appreciate it, you’ll need a front row ticket. My front row seat was a quiet B-road, and the opera was a French four-pot intake-extended neck warble.

Roads are important. This is a road that has the perfect balance of tight corners and sweeping cutbacks that allow you to intersect straight enough to keep it on your toes. Especially if you are wearing wide shoes.

The 205 GTi is not a car that challenges the boundaries of loyalty. On the contrary, it’ll happily understeer in a hedge – in fact, it wants to. No, instead, the 205 GTi is a car that challenges you. It’s ruthless, but it’s far from unexpected.

You drive with your right foot as much as you do with your arm. Go to a very hot corner, and instead of hitting the anchors, you just have to lift the throttle and the grip will come back. But lift too much, and you will encounter fast incoming traffic. If you are lucky.

There is no power near the weight above the front axle, but it presumably turns the nose. The steering rack can take quick directions, the tires work best without the help of an e-def, and the lack of power support means you can feel it if you go over the motor.

See also: Peugeot 205 Rallye turned it up to eleven

130 horsepower doesn’t seem like much in modern terminology. And it is not. But the sense of speed, combined with that low seating position, heavy input and plastic shaking, means you never get overwhelmed by the false sense of security.

This particular car is fitted with a gearbox from a 405 Mi16. The combination slightly resists the often criticized lazy (but Turkish) power delivery of the 1.9 engine.

This extremely short ratio means frequent gear changes. You hit the 5th almost immediately, the puff at the top end is gone. But it’s ideal for walking through the cogs on the back of the hill – if not for pure speed, for the extra ability to use each end rave in a stiff window.

Yes, 205 GTi is a defective machine. There is no physics-criminal strategy up to its sleeve. It lacks the strength, tactical differences, or animal comfort that we come to expect. But the character comes with its flaws. And it reminds us that sometimes there is a less-spoken section. The class of being perfectly imperfect.

More pictures …

Photo: Sam D. Smith for Carscopes

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