PEUGEOT 205 GTI DE­CEM­BER 1988

CAR (UK) - - Car: The First 700 Issues -

There had to be a hot hatch in this test, to rep­re­sent a breed of car we’ve been re­port­ing on (and loved) since the mid-’70s, and to pro­vide a com­edy con­trast in shape and value to the E-Type, F40 and Ford GT.

And it had to be a 205. A Mk1 Golf GTI feels a bit wheezy now, and more re­cent hot hatches lose a lit­tle of the orig­i­nal ap­peal with their mus­cu­lar­ity, pol­ish and weight. The 205 GTI is the one we al­ways re­fer back to, and as with the M3 it’s oc­ca­sion­ally worth ex­am­in­ing if that bench­mark sta­tus is re­ally de­served.

I think so, be­cause this is my car: a com­pletely orig­i­nal 130bhp 1.9 from 1989. I bought it nine years ago be­cause I couldn’t be­lieve that such a bench­mark car was (then) so cheap, and it still pro­vides the nec­es­sary men­tal re­cal­i­bra­tion af­ter driv­ing mod­ern cars of ex­ces­sive power and weight. A mem­ber of our list of the 50 most pow­er­ful peo­ple in the car in­dus­try bor­rowed it from me for a week and dropped it back to my house hav­ing had to re­wire the win­dow winders, but with an of­fer to buy it. For me, that sum­marises the French hot hatch own­er­ship ex­pe­ri­ence. I’m hop­ing my fel­low judges like it as much, and that it doesn’t wet it­self all over the Duke of Rich­mond’s tar­mac… ⊲

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