1980s / 1990s / French / Peugeot

A look at the Peugeot 205 Rallye

peugeot-205-rallye-5Shortly after its introduction, the Peugeot 205 GTi gradually became more powerful, better equipped, and, consequently, more expensive. Moving upmarket was an effective way to keep the Golf GTI in check, but it left many long-time customers longing for an affordable way to have fun behind the wheel.

Peugeot launched the 205 Rallye in March of 1988 to satisfy those buyers. Developed jointly with Peugeot-Talbot Sport, the car was aimed at the bottom end of the hot hatch segment, and it was very carefully packaged in order to avoid cannibalizing the 205 GTi. Metallic paint and alloy wheels? Not a chance.

The 205 Rallye was only offered as a three-door hatchback, and it came only in white with body-colored bumpers that were sourced from the GTi parts bin. Up front, the fog lights were removed and replaced with plastic covers in order to shed excess weight. The car sat on white steel wheels and it was fitted with Rallye-specific fender flares that had a different shape than the ones found on the GTi. Finally, Peugeot-Talbot Sport stickers on the grille and on the hatch added a touch of color.

Inside, the Rallye was stripped of every component that was deemed superfluous. That phrase often gets tossed around in the auto industry today, but modern cars are brimming with high-tech gadgetry so it has lost much of its meaning. In the late 1980s, when a company announced that a model was stripped of all unnecessary equipment, it wasn’t an exaggeration. The 205 Rallye had no radio, no A/C, no rear ash tray, no clock, and no storage bin in the passenger-side door panel. It did have bucket seats for the front passengers, red carpet, and a three-spoke steering wheel, all parts borrowed from the GTi.


Under the hood was a 1,249cc four-cylinder engine that was tweaked with input from tuner Danielson. It was the same engine that powered the Citroën AX Sport, but it was fed by a pair of Weber carburetors — Citroën used Solex units — and upgraded with a high-profile cam. Thanks to these modifications and others, the four-banger generated 102 horsepower and 88 pound-feet of torque, figures that were impressive in a hatchback that tipped the scale at just 1,740 pounds (less than 800 kilos). Power was sent to the front wheels via a five-speed manual transmission. The Rallye hit 62 mph (100 km/h) from a stop in 9.2 seconds (half a second slower than the 125-horsepower 1.6-liter GTi) and went on to a top speed of 116 mph (about 185 km/h).

In its first year on the market, the 205 Rallye carried a base price of 69,800 francs. That same year, a 205 GTi with a 1.6-liter four retailed for 84,200 francs, and the more powerful 1.9-liter model sold for 94,400. Over at Volkswagen, the cheapest Golf GTI cost 88,450 francs and a three-door base model started at 57,400 francs. Peugeot initially planned on building just 5,000 examples of the Rallye, but it was so popular that it was eventually added to the car maker’s catalog as a regular-production model. It was given the ax in 1992 after roughly 30,000 examples were built.

Note: The German- and Swiss-spec Rallye got a 1.9-liter four in 1992, while British-spec models got a 1.4-liter engine and could be ordered in yellow.

12 thoughts on “A look at the Peugeot 205 Rallye

  1. A friend had a 106 Rallye – that was such a hoot. These were cars from what I consider the golden age of hatchbacks that were built to drive – not pilot in airconditioned PAS equipped comfort – sadly an era that is gone. I don’t think you can even buy a new car without PAS these days for example

  2. Oh c’mon 😉 Having air conditioning only gives you the chance to drive a good car when there are 40°C outside (keeping your windows closed), it does not make it any less fun or sporty. And power steering might have been unnecessary on a 800kg car with tyres 180mm wide, try to park, just to say, a modern hot hatchback weighting 1,5ton with 200 / 240mm wide alloys! And thus, drive a non PAS equipped car of the ’80s for a 1000km trip… if you get to destination alive, with a broken spine, your ears will bleed and your wrist might come off 😉 These old cars may have been ‘built to drive’ (once in awhile), but now care are much more built to be driven anytime. And please be honest: is a much, much more civilized Peugeot 206 RC (GTi 180 in uk) really so sad and obnoxious to drive?

  3. Love that car!

    PS: I’ve been following Ran When Parked from quite a while now, and man: really, really hats off. 100% deadly interesting, no futile messabouts. Keep it up!

    Will you someday dedidcate a post to the glorious Peugeot 206? 😀
    That car is really my weakness, kind of what the Merc w123 has been / is for you. I think it’s a milestone in the whole car design scenario, it broke schemes. I recently bought the 3rd 206 of my car history. Waiting to find the fourth and fifth 😉

  4. I bought a Vauxhall Corsa 1.4 turbo last year. It has 157PS according to local rolling road but is still no quicker than the 205 Rallye of 25 years ago! The Corsa weighs approx 1200Kg.

    In response to Luis, the Corsa has power steering, lots of sound insulation, 6 speed box and can cruise at 80mph all day long and return 50mpg while doing so. However it is boring as hell to drive, in fact we hate driving it and both my wife and myself prefer to go out in our 30-60 year old leaf sprung Land Rovers. They may be slow, noisy, leaky, smelly and require arm muscles to rival Hercules just to park in Tesco but they are really enjoyable to drive, make you feel like you are a part of an experience and attract attention and long conversations with strangers wherever they go. The fact that my wife’s 30 yr old Land Rover does 6 times as many individual journeys than the Corsa says something. 🙂

  5. PPS. Ronan, I test drove a Corsa VXR last year. I didn’t find it much quicker than my old 1980’s MG Montego turbo. It was also virtually identical to my Corsa LE in every respect other than a noisier engine/exhaust. I didn’t think the performance was that impressive considering it allegedly had 200PS and cost £21K in UK! It was probably quick compared to other modern bloated hatchbacks but I think I’d prefer a 1980’s 205GTi 🙂

  6. I disagree with Luis and the PAS comments – I drive moderns all the time. I haven’t had a car with a decent steering feel since the last Uno I drove – no PAS and skinny tyres – in 20 years of PAS and ABS I ave to say the feedback through the steering and pedals is much poorer than it was. This was reinforced by a drive of a 91 Panda I drove about 5 years ago that told me far more by feel than I got through the contact surfaces of the Insignia I was driving at the time. I am not saying that PAS, ABS, Aircon etc are not nice to have but all these things add weight and there is a quid pro quo to what they bring to the driving experience – I can stay cool in 40deg of heat and park without building up a sweat but I don’t consider overall they make a car “better”

  7. Darren, I totally understand, a fiat Uno was my very first car and an old Panda is my best friend’s car which I drive very often. AND THEY ARE BOTH SCARY AND DANGEROUS AS HELL! Actual 2010’s cars may be quite ‘hardcore’ in masking the feedback from the road and feeling too much isolated and dumb, but just pick a car from the late ’90s – early 00’s. it’s perfection at its best. You get the commodities without the drawbacks.

  8. Pingback: Light is right: A look at the Peugeot 106 Rallye | Ran When Parked

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