Also in 1986, the 1.9 was launched. It produced a modest 124bhp (later versions with a catalytic converter dropped to 120bhp), but thanks to the engine’s increased stroke, it was torquier. The 1.6 feels revvier, but being eight-valve affairs, both have bags of go from the start.
To handle the increase in performance – a healthy example can do 0-62mph in 7.8sec – the 1.9 has disc brakes all round. The 1.6 gets discs at the front but makes do with drums at the rear. If testing an early 1.9, feel for driveline shunt in stop-start traffic. It’s nothing serious and a fuelling tweak fixes it.
The 205 was galvanised but it was a fairly hit-and-miss process, with some cars being better protected than others. Thompson reckons that, generally speaking, 1991 J-reg 205s rust the least and 1988 F-regs suffer the worst. Whatever the year, check the doors, sills, headlights and boot floor for the crumbly stuff.
We often sign off these guides frivolously urging you to buy now, and in the case of the 205 GTi, we make no apologies for encouraging you to do so. Really, it’s that good.
An expert’s view
Martin Thompson, Peugeot Racing Developments: “I got my first 205 GTi at 19 and was hooked. I’m 37 now and I’ve owned 20. Part of its secret is its lightness. It’ll fold up in a crash, but keep out of trouble and it’s a blast. I’d have a 1.9 over the 1.6 for its power and torque. It’s got slightly longer gearing so is a better motorway car, too, but the 1.6 is great on back roads. A popular upgrade is to fit a 16v Mi16 engine from the Peugeot 405. I’ve fitted two Peugeot 3.0 V6s to one of mine: one at the front, one at the back.”
Engine: Check the exhaust manifold for cracks. Poor idle suggests a failed airflow meter. Check the coolant for signs of a failed head gasket. Listen for big end bearings knocking or droning. A dry bearing sound or a ticking could be a failed cambelt tensioner. The belt and water pump need changing every four years.