When the 205 was launched in 1983, it caught everyone’s attention as the very model of a modern supermini. It was compact, but decently roomy inside, and had a good sized boot. Sensible in practical areas, the 205 was also exceptionally pretty. Over the car’s lengthy production run, more than 14 years, as the new models designed to replace it failed to kill it off completely, the exterior hardly changed, the real measure of a classic design. The key to the appeal of the 205’s success was driving pleasure. All versions, including the base 1.1, liter and the 1.9 liter diesel, were enjoyable to pilot. There are precious few mass manufactured super minis that appeal to millions on looks and driving ability, rival small cars were stodgier, less fun to run around in less aspirational. The 205’s dominance of the super mini brief which even stretched to a cabriolet version included the hot hatch. It was launched first as a 1.6 liter, 115 bhp ‘rocket shopper’ with a punchy single camshaft injected engine. The GTi was widely praised for the excellence of its chassis, which was rated as incredibly nimble and capable of providing tremendous grip.
Other hot hatch makers had upped the power battle. So Peugeot responded with a 130 bhp, 1.9 liter GTi. The 205’s sheer verve and maneuverability had also been upped, and new razor sharp throttle response was of often described as addictive. However, by the early 1990s, the 205’s firmly interior, raucous nature and transmission shunt meant it was becoming much less competitive.