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Used Peugeot 205 review: 1987-1994

There's nothing new about hot hatches. They date back at least to the early '60s when the Mini Cooper came on the scene.  But it was taken to a new level with the VW Golf GTi and Peugeot 205 GTi.

The 205, a small front-wheel-drive hatch, caused a sensation when it was launched in Europe in the early '80s. Like the Golf it had uprated sporty suspension, a hot engine and a sporty body kit, but unlike the Golf, it was also cute.

Model watch

The 205 GTi finally came to Australia in 1987. However, it was detuned slightly to meet our exhaust emission laws, and down-specced to be price competitive.  The local GTi looked like its European cousin, with the same three-slatted grille, beefy rub strips down the sides and the fog lamps. When first launched the GTi had a 1.9-litre single overhead camshaft engine with eight valves and fuel injection which put out just 75kW and 142Nm.

A five-speed manual transmission was standard and drive was through the front wheels.  Airconditioning was standard, as were 14x6in alloy wheels, central locking, fog lamps, leather steering wheel, power windows and a four-speaker radio-cassette sound system.

Power steering wasn't standard. It seems the Peugeot engineers couldn't work out how to include both airconditioning and power steering in the 205 when they did the conversion to right-hand-drive. They opted for the airconditioning and the result was heavy steering.  An update in 1991 brought power steering and airconditioning, and a welcome injection of power (90kW and 152Nm).

The 205 GTi finally disappeared from local showrooms in 1994, the cars sold from 1991 regarded as the ones to buy now.

In the shop

By now the 205 GTi is getting old so it would be wise to have it checked by an expert. Many have been owned by enthusiast owners who have driven them hard.

Look for low-mileage cars that have been serviced by Peugeot specialists. A key part of the 205 GTi's performance equation was its light weight, but with that came body flexing. When new that caused squeaking and squawking around the doors and rear hatch as the panels moved on the seals.  Now it's seen in the form of body cracking, mostly as cracking in the caulking used to seal panel joins.

Early cars were fitted with incorrect pistons at the factory, which caused piston slap rattle and excessive oil consumption. Most were fixed when new because of customer complaint. High-mileage engines need regular checks for oil consumption because they tend to burn oil. Wear in valve stems and seals is the most common cause of oil consumption today.

The gearbox is fairly robust, but is prone to failure of second gear synchro with high mileage. Replacement parts are available for $700 to $800.  A hard life on the road contributes to front suspension bush wear and high rates of brake wear. Brake life of 30,000km is quite normal. Rear subframe and trailing arm bushes are now being replaced quite often.

Owners' Views

Ellen Dewar bought her 205 GTi three years ago and while she admits it's getting near the end of the road with 220,000-plus kilometres on the odo, she doesn't want to get rid of it. She loves its roominess, its great go and street cred. On the downside she's had to replace a drive shaft, repair the airconditioning and the engine is burning oil.

Nick Barker bought his 1987 205 GTi a couple of years ago for $4200. It was his first car and he now admits he was a little gullible.  The 17-year-old apprentice motor mechanic soon realised it hadn't been well looked after and he's had to do a lot of work on it, including replacing both drive shafts, rebuilding the front brakes and replacing the water pump to restore it to roadworthy condition.

Peugeot 205 GTi 1987- 1994

  • Wear in front and rear suspension
  • Lots of body squeaks, and even cracking
  • Excessive oil consumption if engine is worn
  • Sizzling performance, particularly from later engine Reliable mechanicals
  • Agile handling
  • Cute styling


Year Price From Price To
1994 $2,750 $7,040
1993 $2,750 $6,270
1992 $2,750 $6,270
1991 $2,750 $6,270
1990 $3,960 $5,830
1989 $3,960 $5,830
1988 $3,960 $5,830
1987 $3,960 $5,830

View all Peugeot 205 pricing and specifications

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GTi 1.9L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $3,960 – 5,830 1987 Peugeot 205 1987 GTi Pricing and Specs
Graham Smith
Contributing Journalist


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