This, ladies and gentlemen, could possibly be the best first car of all time.
Decided early on in my life I wanted a 205, I was appalled when I tried to get insured for a GTi. On paper, the only alternatives were the GT and XS models. Both posted identical figures for performance/economy, but had different engines fitted, though both displaced 1.4 litres.
However, the GT, while a fine looking car in its own right, had five doors, and therefore less 'GTi-a-like' credability. The XS however, was the full monty three door, missing only the plastic arch extensions and lower rear apron from it's more powerful cousins.
On driving it for the first time, I realised why 205's have been so popular from their introduction in 1986. The acceleration is just amazing from the 1.4 litre engine, getting up to 50 mph every bit as fast as the 1.6 GTi, before the larger engined car can use its midrange grunt to out-torque the XS. Top end speed is bordering on ridiculous for the engine size, topping out at just over 110 mph, almost perfectly at the redline. Peugeot's engineers must have spent a while getting those gear ratios so perfect.
But the XS is not just about speed - the handling of the car is just beautiful, it can be thrown into roundabouts and sharp corners, and the impression is always that the car can handle more than you can give it. Body roll is well controlled while cornering sharply, and it will not show any lift off oversteer until it is pushed as hard as possible in the wet, which most people wouldn't do anyway.
The brakes are adequate for the size of car, but do have a tendency to overheat when pushed ultra hard, though again this is only when pushing the car to its limits.
The bodywork and fitting are obviously not up to Teutonic standards, but as French cars go, this is one of the better built examples when compared to its equivalents, such as the Renault 5.
Overall, a car which impressed me no end, and I would heartily recommend it, first car or otherwise.