I bought this 205 after reluctantly parting with my last one, due to not having passed my test, and having nowhere to store it at the time.
The car is now 16 years old, however the body is totally rust free. The sills, wings, etc are perfect. I can't say the same about many Fiesta's this age. Even my last 205 was a 1990 model, and that was just as rust free.
There were many things that initially attracted me to the 205. It's extremely reliable, simple and cheap to fix. There's no electronic rubbish or sensors controlling what the car does, it's all mechanical and that's where its strength lies. On top of that, it looks great, has rally pedigree, and of course there's the iconic GTI. One other thing that attracted me, as opposed to something like a 106, is that it's getting rarer and more unique now.
One very important thing to me, as with most new drivers, is that the insurance is cheap. You'd think that it being a 1.8 would be expensive, but it was one of the very cheapest cars I could insure, and was only about £50 a year more than the 1.0 petrol.
The XUD diesel engine that the 205 used is fantastic. I'm a little heavy footed and I always get above 50mpg. My Mum owns a 205 TD and she get's over 55mpg out of hers. Driving the normal diesel like mine carefully, there's no reason why you won't get 60-65mpg. Although the engine lacks power above 50mph, it will still happily cruse at 80mph all day. It's strength lies around town; for a diesel it's very nippy and revs easily. Although the engine sounds loud from the outside of the car, it's actually quite quiet and smooth from within. I actually quite like the sound of it. It's deadly reliable, and has never skipped a beat.
When driving the car, it doesn't feel anywhere like an almost 30 year old design, especially, if like mine, it's equipped with power steering. The driving position is superb, with all the controls easily falling at hand. The visibility is also amazing. No other car I've been in is as easy to see out of and manoeuvre as the 205. Hey, you don't even look in the mirrors when reversing, you can see that much out of the back.
The car is extremely comfortable. The suspension is very soft and absorbs all the bumps. The seats are also extremely comfortable. There's also loads of room in the front, so you don't feel cramped. Although the suspension is very soft, the car handles beautifully. It's sharp and precise, and feels like a go cart. It feels very grippy as well. A lot of it is down to its semi independent rear suspension.
Despite the small size, the car is extremely practical. The boot is a good size, the rear seats fold flat to give a decent size load when you need to carry lots of stuff, there's a decent amount of room in the back for passengers, and the way the front seats move forward to let rear passengers in and out is quite clever.
Changing simple things like bulbs is a breeze. Part of my job is fitting bulbs and wipers in cars, and some of the new cars are ridiculous. I can't even get my hand in to change it on a BMW 5 series, and on Renault Meganes you have to go in through the wheel arch. On the 205, things are simple. You can easily get your hand down the back of the lights to replace all the bulbs. Little things, like it taking H4 bulbs, make replacements easy and cheap. The rear lights are the easiest I've come across to change. Two little screws on the outside of the case, and it comes off. No having to go through the boot to get to it.
On the negative side, its age is against it now. General wear and tear has meant that I've had to replace quite a few parts. It's not the 205's fault, and any car this age will be suffering from similar problems. The tax is also expensive being £215 a year. The build quality leaves a fair amount to be desired and rattles are common. Also I'm not too confidant about how well it will hold up in a crash compared to modern cars.
I'm pretty sure that the 205 will be a future classic. Get 'em now while they're cheap.