Old school hot hatch which shows the new pretenders the way home. Manages to keep up with the current 180 bhp hot hatch crowd with a mere 130 bhp thanks to light weight and the thumping midrange of an "old skool" 8 valve powerplant.
Handling is mindblowing. Turns like a startled rabbit, steering oozes feel and the seat of your pants tells you what the back end is up to. Yes it can bite, but if you're remotely awake and half skilled, it's not an issue. If you think you are entitled to shut the throttle mid bend in a car when "on it" and not have to make corrective inputs, you will break this car, and probably yourself (no crash bars or airbags here) within a few miles of driving it. Unlike newer hot hatches it forces YOU to drive it, and won't summon a handful of driver aids to compensate for your incompetence. If you screw up in a 205 GTi, you will leave the road. If you get it right, it is capable of things which no front wheel drive car has any right to do, and which no rival before or since can achieve. To say it will make you grin is an understatement, and it is precisely this driver dependence which makes it such an amazing machine. Driving a 205 GTi fast can be a frantic experience, but it's rewarding and it teaches you a heck of a lot about car control. It handles precisely as well as you drive it.
The rest of it is your typical 80's French hatch - read cute styling, crap trim and build quality, surprisingly tough mechanicals and dealers who either don't want to know, or don't have a clue. Have your 205 looked after by a good independent, and do the minor services yourself. Again the beauty of a "simple" 8 valve engine with primitive fuel injection is that you don't need an engineering or electronics degree to work on it.
Buy carefully, be prepared for the odd problem and lots of rattles, and you won't look back. Keep it standard though, particularly where the chassis is concerned. This is one car where the manufacturer definitely knew best.