The launch of the sporty version of the Peugeot 205 in 1984 was enthusiastically reported by the specialist press of the time.

At a time when GTI models were firmly established in the car manufacturers' catalogues, the release of the little bomb from Sochaux was eagerly awaited by the press. For more than a year, the sports car produced by Peugeot appeared on numerous magazine covers and was the subject of countless articles praising it.

The arrival of the 205 GTI 1.6 in the world of small sports cars on 16 February 1984 did not go unnoticed. Especially as the most muscular model in the Peugeot catalogue was until then the 104 ZS coupé which dated from 1976... In just a few months, the thundering GTI 1.6 finally embodied the panache and youthfulness that were missing from the Peugeot range and took over a third of the sports saloon registrations that year. The impact of this model, whose success was immediate, was perfectly reflected in the reviews and magazines of the time, with the ultimate consecration of being elected "Sports car of the year" for 1984 by the famous magazine Echappement!

Auto Hebdo n° 401 of 5 January 1984 is one of the very first magazines to devote its cover to the new 205 GTI.

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First contacts

One of the very first titles to talk about the Peugeot 205 GTI in its pages is the magazine Auto Hebdo, created by Michel Hommell in 1976, whose rhythm of publication allows us to get information about this new model very early on and within a short time. Thus, the 205 GTI is already in the spotlight on the cover of issue 401 published on 5 January 1984, while inside, Michel Salusse devotes four pages to it under the title "The French car of the year", beginning as follows: "It took us 7 years of patience and hope to discover this little French girl who has the nerve to usurp a prestigious acronym. For us, the year 84 starts well. Two months later, in the 1st March issue of the fortnightly L'auto-Journal, its editor André Costa was dithyrambic, stating that on certain tortuous routes, at night and in the rain, he was convinced that he would go as fast with his 205 GTI as with his Porsche 911 Carrera! A nice compliment coming from this distinguished journalist... In the same issue, we can read the column "Point de vue de Madame" by Marianne Antoine and Florence Rémy which concludes as follows: "The 205 GTI could well set fire to drivers who would have sworn, eight days ago, that Peugeot did not know how to do something exciting...".

Regularly, car magazines such as Sport Auto (here n°273 of October 1984) will propose matches between the different GTI of the market, of which the 205 will often come out on top.

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A rivalry maintained

As soon as it was launched, the Peugeot 205 GTI 1.6 was put in competition with the Volkswagen Golf GTI, the reference until then, by most of the car magazines. Only a few days after the official presentation of the little bomb from Sochaux, Auto Hebdo of 16 February 1984 opened the long series of confrontations between the two cars. On the cover, the two cars, photographed in close-up from the front, took up all the space on the page with the title "The match of the year". In the pages of the magazine, there is a long comparative article by Michel Salusse in the "Wheels in Wheels" section, with the title "Géniale contrefaçon" on the opening double page. The journalist points out that eight years after its release, VW is presenting its second generation GTI, while for Peugeot it is a big first. According to him, the Golf has become commonplace, while the line of the 205, which had already won all the votes in the 4-door version, has become even more attractive. Another magazine, L'Automobile Magazine, devoted a long article by Jean-François Rousselot to a face-off between the two GTIs with two headlines: "The legend of acronyms" and "Peugeot takes to the streets".

In its December 1984 issue, L'Automobile Magazine closed the year with a panorama of the main GTIs, of which the Peugeot 205 was the favourite. 

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A whole year of tests

Peugeot's little sports car was so popular with the public and the press that articles praising its qualities followed one another without interruption until the arrival of the improved 1.9 version in 1986. For journalists like J.-F. Rousselot, the fact that they opted for the legendary acronym testifies to Peugeot's determination to take on the illustrious Golf GTI...". Not to choose the wrong opponent is to start with a winning spirit", he wrote in L'Automobile Magazine, before affirming that according to him, the 205 is the only real contender, in sporting terms, that can dare to challenge the undisputed champion VW Golf in a GTI versus GTI duel. In October 1984, the magazine Sport Auto devoted most of its pages to a "Guide des sportives 85" in which the 205 GTI was compared with several models in its segment: VW Golf GTI, Opel Kadett GSi and Renault 11 Turbo. The article, written by Gilles Dupré, explains that although the four cars are quite similar in terms of performance, the 205 "remains the meanest and most sporty. While we drive the others, we drive the Peugeot".

Most of the specialised magazines, such as L'Automobile Magazine in March 1984, put the 205 GTI and the Golf GTI in competition.

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A small downside...

Although the 1984 press unanimously praised the qualities of the Peugeot 205 GTI 1.9, this model was nevertheless scratched several times in terms of the finishes and materials of its interior, particularly the dashboard. Auto Hebdo goes straight to the point, talking about an "ugly" steering wheel that takes away from the pleasure of driving, which was designed by a stylist and not by a tester... Another article says: "The two-spoke steering wheel is downright ugly". The dashboard is often described as banal and José Rosinski goes so far as to say in Sport Auto that it "gives an impression of confusion". With hindsight, the judgement of some journalists of the time is undoubtedly a little harsh.

In the big league

During 1984, the 205 Turbo 16 version approved for Group B competition, which was presented at the Geneva Motor Show at the beginning of March at the same time as the "normal" 1.6 version, was also the subject of numerous press articles. In its April 1984 issue, the magazine Sport Auto presented a 12-page feature entitled "Les routières de course". Test driver José Rosinski made a comparative match in which the Turbo 16 was up against the Audi Quattro and the Lancia Rally, to put it mildly! Far from establishing a ranking between these rally queens, he concludes his subject by describing the 205 T16 as "a jewel of mechanical sophistication... which brings together all the most advanced automotive technology available today".