£3895 (1.0 three-door in 1984)
Front engine, front-wheel drive
RANGE OF ENGINES
954-1905cc, four-cylinder petrol; 1769-1905cc, four-cylinder diesel
MOST POWERFUL ENGINE
130bhp (1905cc, without catalytic converter)
122mph (GTi 1.6 in 118bhp tune, 1580cc)
BEST OVERALL FUEL ECONOMY
54mpg (1769cc diesel)
NUMBER OF SEATS
The little Peugeot 205’s position as the 11th best-selling single car design of all time is impressive; the acclaim it won during its whole lifetime is extraordinary.
Car magazine, for example, anointed it as the single best car the 1980s produced, while seasoned hacks at rival Autocar stated in 1991 it was ‘still the best small car’ – and that for a lowly 1.1 model tested against Ford’s all-new Fiesta. That year, too, the eight-year old car accounted for 3% of the whole UK market. And, throughout its 15 years on sale, it was never once facelifted.
The neat and timeless Pininfarina styling was certainly a factor in its appeal, but the overall right-ness of the Peugeot 205 won people over – the superbly roomy cabin thanks to compact torsion bar suspension, the supple ride, the lightness that meant even the smallest engines felt punchy. Perhaps most of all, it was the high-torque XUD7 diesel engine available in the car, a motor so quiet and powerful it single-handedly turned sentiment in favour of small diesels.
Meanwhile, the Peugeot 205 GTi (depicted in our artwork), with its lowered suspension and widened wheelarches, grabbed the hot hatchback baton from Volkswagen and sprinted with it. Once again, its legacy lingers: the most powerful 1.6-litre edition remains a yardstick of driver satisfaction, acceleration and handling by which modern fun cars are still measured.