PEUGEOT 205 GTI DECEMBER 1988
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… ⊲