Production1983–1998 (5.3 million units)
AssemblyFrance: Mulhouse(Mulhouse Plant)

Spain: Madrid

England: Ryton (Ryton Plant)

Indonesia: Jakarta (Gaya Motor)

Chile: Los Andes

Taiwan: Changhua

Iran: Tehran (Iran Khodro)

DesignerGerard Welter
Body and chassis
ClassSupermini (B)
Body style3 and 5-door hatchback

2-door convertible

LayoutFront-engine, front-wheel-drive

mid-engine, four-wheel-drive (205 T16)

RelatedPeugeot 309
Engine954 cc (1.0 l) I4 (petrol)
1,124 cc (1.1 l) I4 (petrol)
1,294 cc (1.3 l) I4 (petrol)
1,360 cc (1.4 l) I4 (petrol)
1,580 cc (1.6 l) I4 (petrol)
1,769 cc (1.8 l) I4 (diesel)
1,905 cc (1.9 l) I4 (diesel)
1,905 cc (1.9 l) I4 (petrol)
Transmission4-Speed manual

5-speed manual

4-speed automatic

Wheelbase2,418 mm (95.2 in)
Length3,705 mm (145.9 in)
Width1,572 mm (61.9 in)
Height1,365–1,376 mm (53.7–54.2 in)

The Peugeot 205 is a supermini car produced from 1983-1998.  It was declared “car of the decade” by CAR Magazine in 1990.  It also won What Car?’s Car of the Year for 1984.  The styling of the 205 is often thought to be a Pininfarina design, although Gerard Welter claims it is an in-house design; Pininfarina only styled the Cabriolet.  It is often credited as the car that turned Peugeot’s fortunes around.  Before the 205, Peugeot was considered the most conservative of France’s “big three” car manufacturers, producing large saloons such as the 504 and 505, although it had entered the modern supermini market in 1973 with the Peugeot 104.  The genesis of the 205 lay within Peugeot’s takeover in 1978 of Chrysler’s European divisions Simca and the former Rootes Group, which had the necessary expertise in making small cars including the Simca 1100 in France and Hillman Imp in Britain.  It was around this time that Peugeot began to work on the development of a new supermini for the 1980s.

Early 205s used the X engine (commonly nicknamed the Douvrin “Suitcase Engine”) from the older Peugeot 104, although these were later (1987-1988) replaced with the newer XU and TU-series engines, which were of PSA design.  Engines ranged from 954cc to 1905cc engine displacement, in carburettor or fuel injected petrol and diesel versions.  Its use of the now standard PSA Peugeot Citroën suspension layout of MacPherson struts at the front, with torsion bar suspension rear suspension, that debuted in the Peugeot 305 estate, was a key ingredient of the success of the 205.  This is fully independent using torsion bars (Torsion spring) and trailing arms.  It is very compact and was designed to minimise suspension intrusion into the boot, giving a wide flat load space, while providing excellent ride and handling.

It was launched on 24 February 1983, and was launched in right-hand drive form for the UK market in September that year.  Shortly after its launch, it was narrowly pipped to the European Car of the Year award by the similar sized Fiat Uno, but ultimately it would enjoy a better image and a longer high market demand than its Italian competitor.  It was one of five important small cars to be launched onto the European market within a year of each other – the other three models being the Uno, the second generation Ford Fiesta, the original Opel Corsa (sold as the Vauxhall Nova on the British market) and the original Nissan Micra.

The diesel models employed the XUD PSA Diesel inline-four engine, lifted from the Citroën BX which was introduced in September 1982.  These XUD engines had a capacity of 1769cc (XUD7) and 1905cc (XUD9) and are closely related to the XU5 and XU9 petrol engines in the BX16 and BX19 of the time respectively, as well as the engines later used in the 205 GTI 1.6 and Automatic (also 1.6) and GTI 1.9 respectively (other Peugeot/Citroën [PSA] products, such as the 305 and Talbot Horizon as well as the BX, used the XUD9 1905cc Diesel engine of the same capacity as the 205 GTI 1.9 and Citroën BX 19 petrol engined models).  The XUD7 (and XUD9) Diesel Engines were world-beating and so petrol-like that many buyers were won over by petrol car performance combined with diesel economy.

There was also the “205 Multi”, a tall-bodied special version on XA or XE-basis built by independent coachbuilders like Gruau and Durisotti.  Gruau called their XA-based two-seater version the “VU”, while the five-seat XE-based version was called the “VP”.  Durisotti began building the 205 Multi in 1986; it was called the “205 Multi New Look”.

The 205 was an instant hit, and its styling was echoed in every Peugeot model that was to follow.  The exterior styling was never facelifted or significantly altered in its 15-year production run.  There was a dashboard redesign for the 1988 model year, and in late 1990 the 205 received new door design and cards, clear front indicators, new ‘smoked’ rear light clusters, single point petrol injection and catalytic converters were introduced, to meet the new 1992 pollution limits.  These updates came at a crucial time, as 1990 also saw the arrival of a completely new French competitor, the Renault Clio, while the Rover Metro and Volkswagen Polo were also heavily updated, and Ford had already replaced its Fiesta with a third generation model.  Still, the 205 was still widely regarded in the motoring press as the benchmark car in this sector by 1990.

At the beginning of 1993, Peugeot launched the 306, which officially replaced the 309; the arrival of this car also diminished the 205’s role (and its sales figures) in the Peugeot range, as had the arrival of the smaller 106 in September 1991 – although the final demise of the 205 was still some years away.  The engines were continuously updated, with the new “TU” engines introduced in 1988.  In 1991, the 205 dTurbo was launched with a powerful, turbocharged version of the 1,769cc xud diesel engine.

After several years of gradually declining sales, the Peugeot 205 was discontinued in the United Kingdom in 1996.  The Peugeot 205 was still offered in the “Sacré Numéro” and “Génération” models until the end of the production in 1998, the last models were GLD 1.7 configuration and were sold in Argentina.  Most of the later European versions were only sold in France.  Due to the pressure from the market, with buyers wanting a Peugeot supermini in the mould of the 205 again, the company finally built a direct replacement in the 206, which was launched in 1998.

205 GTI / CTI

The 1.6 litre GTI was launched in 1984, and came with a XU5J engine, producing 105PS (77kW; 104hp), for the 1987 model year the XU5J received the cylinder head with larger valves thus becoming XU5JA.  The new engine was quoted for 115bhp (86kW; 117PS).  The 1.9 litre GTI came with an XU9JA engine producing 128PS (94kW; 126hp), although later models with a catalytic converter produce 122PS (90kW; 120hp).  Internally these engines are very similar, the main differences on 1.9 litre versions being the longer stroke, oil cooler, and some parts of the fuel injection system.  The shorter stroke 1.6 litre engine is famed for being revvy and eager, while the 1.9 litre feels lazier and torquier.  Outside the engine bay the main differences between the 1.6 GTI and the 1.9 GTI are half-leather seats (1.9 GTI) vs. cloth seats (1.6 GTI); and disc brakes all-round (1.9 GTI) vs. discs at the front and drum brakes at the back (1.6 GTI); as well as the 14-inch (360mm) alloy (Speedline SL201) wheels (1.6 GTI) vs. 15inch (Speedline SL299) alloys (1.9 GTI).

A cabriolet version of the 205, known as the CJ (or CT in France), was designed and partially assembled by Pininfarina of Italy.  A CTi version, with the same plastic arches and wheels as the 1.6 GTI was also available.  Some later models incorporated the catalysed 1.9 litre engine.  The main aesthetic difference between the GTI/CTi versions and other 205 models were the plastic wheel arches and trim, beefier front and rear bumper valances.  The shell also underwent some minor changes, including larger wheel arches (to suit the larger wheels on the GTI and CTi), and the suspension was redesigned and sat lower on the GTI with stiffer springs, different wishbones and a drop-linked anti-roll bar.

Sales of the GTI in the United Kingdom in the early 1990s were badly hit by soaring insurance premiums, brought about by high theft and ‘joyriding’ of cars of this sort.  Increasingly stringent emissions regulations meant the 1.6 GTI went out of production in 1992, while the 1.9 litre was sold for a couple more years thanks to re-engineering of the engine to enable it to work properly with a catalytic converter, which dropped power to 122bhp (91kW; 124PS).

Special 205 GTI editions

Across 1989-1990, 1200 GTIs were made in the then new colours of Miami blue (Bright metallic blue) and Sorrento Green (a very dark pearlescent green).  The cars were made in an equal mix of 300 blue 1.6 litre, 300 green 1.6 litre, 300 blue 1.9 litre and 300 green 1.9 litre.  The cars had a sliding sunroof, power steering and full grey leather interior as standard, together with grey carpets and door cards.  These paint colours were later added to the list of available colours for mainstream models.  Air conditioning was an optional extra though not in conjunction with power steering due to the lack of space in the engine bay for both.

The Gentry was a limited edition version of the 205, it had 1.6 GTI suspension combined with a detuned 105bhp (78kW; 106PS) 1.9 litre engine (as fitted to export market GTIs such as those for Australia and Switzerland) but with an automatic gearbox.  Only 300 models were made in Sorrento Green and Aztec Gold (sometimes called Mayfair Beige).  They came with full leather trim and real wood trim, power assisted steering and heated mirrors in the UK, as well as the same body side trims as the GTI – which led to the Gentry often being mistaken for a GTI.

The Griffe was a special GTI edition for mainland Europe, and was sold in France, Germany and the Netherlands.  It was bright green (called ‘Laser’ Green or ‘Vert Fluorite), and came equipped with all available vendor options at that time except air-conditioning, but including full black leather interior, ABS, power steering and sunroof.  1652 Griffes were made, all in laser green and with dark grey anodised alloy wheels with a silver rim.

The 1FM was produced for the UK market in 1992 to coincide with the 25th birthday of BBC Radio 1.  Only 25 were made and each car was individually numbered with a small brass plate.  The car was only available in black with ‘Radio 1FM 25th’ bodywork decals, grey Speedline alloy wheels and came with all options fitted as standard.  A special stereo system including a CD changer and an acoustic rear shelf was specified by Clarion.  Radio 1 ran a competition on air to win one.

205 Rallye

From 1988 to 1992 Peugeot produced another variant of the 205, the 205 Rallye, which was engineered and produced by Peugeot-Talbot sport.  This edition of the 205 was positioned as a cost effective alternative to the 205 GTI, retaining its sporty character, but being less expensive to buy or maintain.  To achieve this, Peugeot used a derivative of the TU-series engine used in the post-1987 205s, which was designated TU24.  The engine is essentially the same engine as was in the 1.1 litre 205 with the cylinders bored out to a total engine displacement of 1294cc, a sports camshaft and twin Weber carburettors.  The 1.3 litre engine produced 103PS (76kW; 102hp) at 6,800rpm.  The car got the 1.6 GTI front suspension with ventilated brake discs, and the 1.6 GTI rear axle with drum brakes.

The 205 Rallye was completely stripped of almost all soundproofing, electrical systems or other luxury items, bringing down the weight to no more than 794kg (1,750lb).  Its minimalistic equipment, together with the high revs needed to unleash all of the engine’s horsepower gives the 205 Rallye a very spartan character and makes it a difficult but rewarding car to drive hard, which is one of the reasons it is now very popular among 205 GTI enthusiasts.  Peugeot expected to build around 5000 Rallyes.  In the end 30,111 Rallyes were produced, even though they were only sold in certain mainland European markets (including France, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Italy and The Netherlands).

The distinctive aesthetic features of the 205 Rallye include the squarer wheel arches (which are different from GTI arches), the steel body-coloured wheels and the rainbow-coloured Peugeot-Talbot sport decals on the front grille and the tailgate.  They were only available in white.  The Rallye was sold with a reduced-weight interior with the Peugeot-Talbot sport logo embroidered in the front seats.  From 1990 to 1992 Peugeot also built a 1.9 litre version of the 205 Rallye.  Only about 1000 of them were produced and they were only sold in Germany, because the 1.3 litre version did not meet German road regulations.  The 1.9 Rallye is just a 105bhp (78kW) 1.9 GTI with the Rallye body shell and the new-style clear indicators and rear light units.  Although they are even rarer than the 1.3 Rallye, they are less popular among Peugeot enthusiasts, because they lack the raw and spartan character of the 1.3 Rallye and are 150kg (331lb) heavier.

In 1994 Peugeot introduced the Rallye to the UK market, it was available in three colours (500 white, 250 yellow, 80 blue) and was essentially a re-badged XT.  It came equipped with black cloth seats embroidered with the Peugeot-Talbot Sport logo, the Peugeot-Talbot sports colours behind the front arches and over the back arches, as well as the same markings on the grill and tailgate of its European brother.  It was powered by an iron-blocked 1360cc TU3.2 engine with the same twin-choke Solex carburettor found on the earlier XS engine.  It produced 75bhp (56kW; 76PS) and achieved 107mph (172km/h) with a 0-60mph of 11.7 seconds.

205 Turbo 16 (T16)

To homologate the 205 T16 (“Turbo 16” in France) Group B rally car, Peugeot had to produce 200 road-going examples.  According to the Group B regulations, these had to be based on a current production road car.  Peugeot decided to base the Group B rally car on the two door version of the 205.  The engine was based on the cast iron block of the Diesel version of the then new XU engine family, albeit with a specially developed 16-valve head.  The gearbox came from the Citroen SM but was mounted transversely.  The car had all wheel drive.  The body was built by Heuliez, where standard three door body shells from the production line were delivered and heavily modified.  Heuliez cut off the complete rear of the car and welded in a transverse firewall between the B-posts.  The rear frame was then built in a mixture of sheet steel profiles and tubes.  The front was modified in a similar way with a tube frame carrying the front suspension.  The completed bodies were delivered to Simca (Talbot) for the 200-series production cars and to Peugeot Talbot Sport for the competition versions.

All street versions (VINs P1 to P200) were left hand drive and identically kitted out in dark grey colour, except the first (VIN P1) that was painted white and carried all the competition cars’ decoration for demonstration purposes.  The competition cars of the first evolution series (VIN C1 to C20) were built at the sport department Peugeot Talbot Sport and presented to the public at the same day as the standard street version.  Later competition vehicles of the Evolution 2 series (VIN C201 to C220) were built differently as the rear spaceframe had no more sheet steel profiles in it but was completely made from tubes only.

Apart from the appearance, the road variants had practically nothing in common with the regular production model and shared the 1,775cc (1.8L; 108.3cuin) with a bore x stroke of 83mm × 82mm (3.27in × 3.23in) transversely-mounted, mid-engine, four-wheel-drive layout of the rally car, but had less than half the power; at around 200 PS (197bhp; 147kW) at 6,750 rpm and 255Nm (188lb⋅ft) at 4,000 rpm of torque.  The T was for (KKK) Turbo, fuel fed by Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection and a compression ratio of 6.5:1; the 16 stands for DOHC 16 valves.  Outwardly similar to a normal 205, the T16 had wider wheel arches, and the whole rear section lifted up to give access to the engine.  Underneath, the complex drivetrain from the rally car was kept to abide by the Group B rules.

Peugeot Talbot Sport’s factory 205 T16s under Jean Todt were the most successful cars to compete in the last two years of the World Rally Championship’s Group B era, winning the 1985 and 1986 Constructors and Drivers’ titles with Timo Salonen and Juha Kankkunen respectively against such notable competition from Audi, Lancia and Ford, with an Evolution 2 model being introduced for the latter of those two seasons.

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