The pinnacle of the hot hatch
Squeaks and rattles caused by a combination of comedy build quality, cheap materials and 14 years of hard use.
Full suspension and steering rebuild at 140k to eradicate some play and a few odd clonks that were creeping in. I used original parts because you can't improve the handling of these things!
A few odds and ends here and there - a couple of wheel bearings, a clutch, handbrake cable - nothing major.
I just cannot bring myself to sell this car, despite owning it for a decade and 150,000 miles. It's old, it rattles, it needs ongoing repairs, but it's such a hoot to drive I just don't care.
The 1.9 8v engine is laughable bhp-wise by the standards of modern hatches, but in just 800kg of superbly set up chassis, it's a driving tool that has few rivals. The 8 valve design might hamper outright power, but it has far superior torque, meaning the Pug feels quick enough.
And the handling. Oh, the handling! Steering that oozes feel, an absolute refusal to understeer, and an agile, mobile tail which responds to throttle and steering inputs like no other hot hatch before or since. In a 205, the tail can always be called upon to tighten the line or induce a bit of oversteer just for the hell of it, and the whole car has a lithe, agile feel that no 1100kg + hot hatch can touch.
Of all the new rivals I've driven, only the new Clio 182 Cup gets close, but even this will ultimately understeer more, feel less willing to turn, and seem to somehow need coercing more into doing what you want instead of responding almost by telepathy like the Pug does. Once you've taken a 205 GTi to its limit, and beyond on a track or your favourite B-road, be prepared for any likely replacement to spectacularly fail to make the grade.
There are faster hot hatches and there are better built hot hatches, and the new 200 bhp cars would leave it off the lights. However, with the possible exception of the mk1 Golf GTI, this breathed on version of a cheap, tinny, plasticky 14 year old French shopping trolley just somehow captures the spirit of the hot hatch concept better than anything else. Find a good, standard one and prepare to be reminded just how much traction control, ESP, EBD, crash regs and 1100kg+ kerbweights have ruined our fun. Oh and just how far today's Pugs have lost the plot.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 1st November, 2004