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Posts filed under ‘Peugeot’

FWD Champions: The Peugeot 205 GTI

April 1, 2013 by Matt

Peugeot 205 GTI White

The alloy wheels, the wedgy, aggressive stance… Growing up a budding car enthusiast in southern France and blind to little else besides high-end exotics, the Peugeot 205 GTI made an impression. It stood out.

It helped that I wasn’t so inured to the sight of visually hopped-up economy cars; in the mid-late ’80s a budget hatchback with sporting pretensions was something new. And in the case of the 205 GTI, the appeal extended beneath its skin. As with its VW equivalent, the specs weren’t anything to get excited about: 1.6 and 1.9 liter engine options producing a maximum of only 126 hp pulling a chassis whose underpinnings were decidedly bargain-basement. A little carefully-applied suspension tuning and some detail changes here and there, though, made the 205 GTI feel positively alive behind the wheel, never mind the fact that power was delivered to the front wheels.

Peugeot 205 GTI Red

It just looked light, lithe, playful, spritely—and the chassis delivered in massive fashion with telepathic steering response and an eagerness to rotate that beggared belief for a FWD car. The simple, unadorned lines have aged remarkably well too; it still looks almost as fresh as it did 30 years ago. It’s a case study for car designers in how carefully proportioning (as opposed to mere decoration) can dramatically extend a car’s stylistic shelf life.

Peugeot 205 GTI Interior Inside Cockpit Console Dash Dashboard

Sadly, the 205 GTI was never imported to the US. The car’s massive success overseas prompted talks of bringing it stateside, but in the end it came to naught. However, with the recent loosening of import restrictions for cars at least 25 years old, the very real possibility exists that a 205 GTI could be brought over and registered. The car was made from 1984 to 1994, so at least the first few years of production are theoretically available to us here in the US, and given its popularity in Europe, decent examples could probably be had relatively cheaply. Worth checking out!

Image credits: driversgeneration.com, mad4wheels.com, sub5zero.com

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting FWD cars we think highly of, in spite of our RWD bias. Read the other installments here:

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Positively Feline:
The Peugeot 504 Coupe and Convertible

November 17, 2011 by Matt

Peugeot 504 Coupe Pininfarina

Riffing on yesterday‘s theme of Pininfarina + another automaker, let’s swing the spotlight over to another creation of theirs from the same era as the awesome 275 GTB: The ’68-’83 Peugeot 405 Coupe and Convertible.

As with Ferrari, Pininfarina and Peugeot have had a long and prolific association, forging a connection over the decades arguably second in strength only to the styling house’s bond with the Italian firm. An armchair theory as to what Pininfarina sees in both automakers could be their strong branding, Ferrari bearing the stallion on their cars’ grilles and their cars having a kind of thoroughbred quality, and Peugeot associated with their logo’s rearing lion, giving stylists an easy jumping-off point when considering themes to work into a car’s lines.

Peugeot 504 Cabrio Cabriolet Convertible Vert Droptop Pininfarina

A quick glance at the 504 Coupe and Convertible confirms Pininfarina’s feline inspiration. Between the high ground clearance—a classic feature of rugged Peugeots—the front wheels pushed out to the corners of the car and the subtle dip in the strong character line defining the cars’ profiles, the 504 twins look ready to pounce. The headlights seem to squint as the front fenders emulate paws, lunging forward. It’s not a garish, in-your-face effect, but it’s woven throughout the cars’ proportions so thoroughly and effectively that the cat-like gestalt of the cars is undeniable. As a great admirer of design through shape rather than ornamentation, Pininfarina knocked it out of the park with the 504 Coupe and Convertible.

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FWD Champions: The Peugeot 405 Mi16

September 20, 2011 by Matt

1989 1990 1991 Peugeot 405 Mi16 Mi 16

I really wish I’d driven this one. I guess I still can, assuming I can find one of the astronomically small number imported to the US from its native France during the car’s brief ’89-’91 model run here. My chances are decreased even further by the car’s appalling build quality, even when new. I had a subscription to Popular Science in ’91, and remember reading a four-way comparo that included the Peugeot, in which the magazine remarked:

The one mark against the interior was a set of squeaks and rattles that came free with the car at only 3,500 miles on the odometer.

So the 405 Mi16 is poorly-made, incredibly hard to find, FWD and French. Is there anything to like about this car?

1989 1990 1991 Peugeot 405 Mi16 Mi 16 Interior Inside Cockpit

Frankly, yes. From the same article:

The Mi16 is a lot of fun to push around, simply because it doesn’t misbehave.

And the Orlando Sentinel adds:

The car’s road manners are like those of BMW. The suspension is firm in a sporty way. There’s very little body roll, and if the 405 has a tendency to oversteer or understeer, I couldn’t detect it.

If there’s anything cars could use more of on this continent, it’s the Europeans’ proficiency in tuning their cars’ suspensions to be “firm in a sporty way.” That, and a dollop of the personality our neighbors from the other side of the pond are so adept an infusing into even their small cars. After all, it’s the continent that gave us the original VW Beetle and Golf GTI, the Mini and the BMW 2002. Who knows; perhaps some of the passion Pininfarina demonstrated when they penned the clean, taut lines trickled into the 405 Mi16’s road manners, or it could just be the combination of independent rear suspension, 5-speed manual, a 2,800 lb curb weight and an all-aluminum 1.9l, 160 hp 4-cyl. Whatever the case, I’d love experience one and add my own accolades to the pile.

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting FWD cars I think highly of, in spite of my overwhelming RWD bias. Read the other installments here:

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