Peugeot 205 GTI 1.6 from 1984

A sporting approach

The muscular version of the 205 opened a particularly good period for Peugeot in the field of small sports saloons. In 1984, one year after the launch of its small 205 saloon, Peugeot completed this new range with a much awaited muscular version, the GTI. As soon as it was launched, this model established itself among its competitors, starting with the Volkswagen Golf GTI which had initiated this category. Two decades after the R8 Gordini, the 205 GTI was the popular French sports car of a whole generation.

At the beginning of the 1980's, the brand with the lion was mainly known for its traditional family saloons and the only model that was able to compete with the Golf GTI in the small sports car category was the 104 ZS coupé, which was a little dated compared to a model for which Volkswagen had already announced the second generation. Launched in March 1984 at a price of 72,500 Francs, the flagship of the new 205 range was adorned with three magic letters, GTI, which would enable it to become the sports car of a whole generation. The Peugeot 205 GTI was not only an essential model in the history of the brand, but also and above all the one that would dethrone the sacrosanct Golf GTI even in its own country of origin!

As soon as it was released, opinions were unanimous and the car was praised by the specialised press, as in this issue of Auto Hebdo of 31 May 1984.

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The lion shows its claws

With the 205 GTI, Peugeot wants to make a mark and break away from its somewhat "cushy" reputation by offering a more dynamic brand image that will appeal to a younger clientele. To do this, the 205 GTI has learned the lesson of the Volkswagen Golf from which it was inspired, by offering a car with attractive lines, but without being flashy. Thus, unlike other sports cars that ostensibly display their pretensions with aerodynamic appendages and accessories, the 205 Peugeot GTI uses the bodywork of the basic version, apart from a few details. It has no external signs of its performance apart from a GTI badge on the rear quarter panel and elegant 14-inch Speedline alloy wheels with a design similar to that of the fabulous Turbo 16. The bet of performance in the sobriety of the lines will be perfectly successful since the 205 GTI will greatly boost its range, but also be the locomotive of the whole brand. It was to far outstrip its competitor, the emblematic model, and was an unbeatable sports car in the smaller categories (Group N and A), while its elder sister, the 205 Turbo 16, won everything in Group B before dominating the Rally Raids.

With its sober, compact design and impeccable road handling, the 205 regularly topped the list of GTI comparisons in the 1980s.

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Immediate success

To dislodge the Golf GTI from its position, Peugeot did not skimp on the means. It invested more than 620 million francs to modernise its Mulhouse factory where the 205 GTI would be built, with new robots and automation in all sectors of the assembly line. In addition, the launch of this new model was accompanied by a very original and spectacular advertising campaign, including a film parodying the James Bond films. In March 1984, at the Geneva Motor Show, the little 205 GTI 1.6 105 bhp bomb was launched on the basis of the three-door version. The public immediately adopted it with 35,522 registrations the first year and 49,428 in 1985. With the arrival of the GTI, daily production of the little 205 increased from 1,700 to 2,350 units, all versions combined. Compared with the classic saloon from which it was directly derived, the Peugeot 205 GTI retained an identical length and wheelbase, but had slightly increased front and rear tracks (1 cm), while the height was lowered by 2 cm. The architecture is based on the self-supporting steel body with independent wheel suspension of the pseudo McPherson type.

The 14-inch alloy wheels are fitted with MXV low-profile tyres specially designed by Michelin for this car.

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Rise in power

The first model of the 205 GTI was equipped with the XU 5 J engine of 1,580 cm3 closely derived from the XUS of the Peugeot 305 GT and the Citroën BX 16. Like all the engines that would equip the 205 GTI until 1994, it is installed transversely at the front and inclined by 30° towards the rear. It is made of aluminium alloy (block and cylinder head) and has removable wet liners. Its timing, with an overhead camshaft, is ensured by a toothed belt and for the first time in series at Peugeot, the ignition and power supply are entirely managed electronically by a Bosh Jetronic system. In terms of internal architecture, the graphite cast iron crankshaft rests on five bearings, the connecting rods are made of forged steel and the pistons of cast aluminium. With its 105 bhp at 6,250 rpm, the 205 GTI 1.6 lacked a little punch compared to its direct competitors, so from spring 1986, it received a version with 115 bhp. But it was the 1.9 version developing 130 bhp presented at the Paris Motor Show in October of the same year that would definitively make this model enter the court of the reference sports cars.

The 205 GTI's catalogue highlights the elements that distinguish this model in the range, such as the sports wheels and the famous logo on the rear quarter panel.

© IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo © Peugeot