The 205 was the providential model which enabled the Sochaux-based manufacturer to emerge from the crisis and restructure its range.

Officially presented to the press and dealers of the Peugeot network on 20 January 1983 in a luxurious Monegasque hotel, the new 205 was then the star of the Lion brand's stand at the Paris Motor Show which took place the following October. For its first year, it was offered in a five-door version, with five trim levels and four different engines.

The 205 had an extraordinary 15-year career, from 1983 to 1998, making it Peugeot's best-selling model until this record was surpassed by the 206 in 2007. Total production amounted to 5,278,300 units (including 13,957 commercial vehicles), mainly at the Mulhouse, Sochaux, Poissy and Creil sites. The 205 was available in 42 versions, from the most economical to the most sophisticated, with 3- or 5-door bodies, cabriolet and van, as well as 19 different engines (petrol, diesel and turbo) with displacements ranging from 954 cm3 to 1,905 cm3. On a more limited scale, an electric motor and an automatic gearbox were also offered.

The long collaboration between Peugeot and the Roland Garros tennis tournament began with the 205 in 1989.

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A diversified range

The first generation of the Peugeot 205, launched in February 1983, was only available with a five-door body and in five versions: Base, GL, GR, SR and GT with a progressive level of equipment. The engine was powered by blocks from the "Moteur X" range designed by the Société Française de Mécanique as part of the collaboration between the Renault and Peugeot-Citroën companies that began in 1969.  In July 1983, Peugeot struck a blow by offering three diesel versions (GLD, GRD, SRD), an engine that would soon account for nearly 20% of the 205's sales. In February of the following year, the first three-door bodywork appeared with the 205 GTI. In 1985, the 205 range is enriched with new "X" type models: XE, XL, XR, XT for petrol and XLD, XRD for diesel. On 9 December 1985, the one millionth 205 built leaves the Mulhouse factory. The 1986 model year saw the birth of the CT and CTI cabriolets, bodied by Pininfarina in Italy, as well as the 205 Junior as an entry-level model. The 205 continued to evolve, with a second generation Phase 1 in 1987, then Phase 2 in 1990, followed by a final range which was launched in 1993.

Production of the 205 ceased on 31 December 1998, the last cars being delivered the following January. 

The Peugeot 205 GTI "Griffe" launched in 1991 is a limited series of 3,000 units available only in metallic Fluorite green.

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Special series

As was frequently done at the time, in order to boost the sales of a vehicle whose career was already a little dated, Peugeot regularly released special or limited series of its 205 model, some of which were designed exclusively for export. Of the forty or so special series listed, a good half of them concerned the French market alone. The first series launched was the "Lacoste", 24,000 of which were produced from 1984. It prefigures one of Peugeot's most beautiful partnerships, that with the Roland Garros Tournament from 1989 to 1993 for the 205, which was then extended to the 106 and the 308 CC, among others. The 205 "Roland Garros" is distinguished by its top-of-the-range finish, including luxurious white leather upholstery. The other special series of the 205 that made a name for themselves were called "Open" (1987), "Rallye" (5,000 units in 1988), "Green" (1989 to 1991), and "Style" and "Griffe" (1991).

From 1984 to 1989, the Belgian company DIMMA (Distribution et Importation Michel Malherbe Associés) sold Peugeot-approved kits for the 205.

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A great success abroad

In 1985, two years after its launch, the Peugeot 205 was already an incredible commercial success. Firstly in France, where it accounted for 12.85% of total car sales, but also in Europe, where it represented 4% of registrations! The following year, the 205 was launched on the markets of more than 140 countries worldwide, except for the United States where it was strangely absent. The models sold in Europe were produced in the Villaverde factory in Spain. Most European countries gave the 205 a warm welcome, starting with Germany, where it was the number one import for a long time. Peugeot and Africa have a long-standing love affair and the 205 will continue this tradition, particularly in the Maghreb countries. It was manufactured in Morocco, as well as in Nigeria where the Kaduna factory produced 500,000 units for the Black African market until the beginning of the year 2000.

The 205 Multi is a utility vehicle bodied by the company Gruau from 1985 to 1994. 

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The last one... 

From the 1994 model year onwards, as a nod to the advertising slogan that launched the Peugeot 205 in its early days (Un sacré numéro!), the little saloon made a return to its roots in order to hold its own against the 106 model launched in September 1991. All the 205 models were now grouped under the name "Sacré Numéro", available in a single trim level and with four engine options: 1.1 and 1.4 (petrol) and 1.8 (diesel and turbo diesel). In October 1996, when the new 206 was announced in the same segment for 1998, the 205 range was simplified even further with only two engine versions (1.4 and 1.8 D). This final end-of-career series, intended to exhaust stocks, was marketed until January 1999 under the name "Generation 205".

Commercial vehicle also

In order to compete with the Renault Express and Citroën C15 models, Peugeot in turn proposed a series of utility vehicles based on the 205. In October 1984, a 3-door "commercial" range, the XA and XAD, was launched, which was ordered in large numbers by administrations such as the EDF and the Post Office. The following year, the 205 Multi is presented with a larger loading volume thanks to a roof raised by 22 cm.  These vehicles were manufactured in collaboration with the bodywork manufacturers Gruau and Durisotti. Finally, in 1994, the 205 F van replaces the Multi with the particularity of having a polyester rear cell installed on the rear metal structure, the assembly being henceforth carried out internally by Peugeot.