1986 Peugeot 205 T16 E1/E2

1986 Peugeot 205 T16 E1/E2

We’re talking about the best rally cars of all time. The World Rally Championship (WRC) was never more exciting and chock-full of memorable machinery as it was during the Group B era of the 1980s; a time when the cars were considered more wild and outrageous than their F1 counterparts, coining the phrase “Formula 1 for the forest”.


The Audi quattro started it all off, of course. Lancias added Italian flair and pretenders from Ford, Nissan and MG made a good go of it but, ultimately, none could hold a candle to the most dominant rally car of the WRC’s most storied era, the Peugeot 205 T16.

Here was a package headed up by Peugeot sporting director Jean Todt. Still immensely powerful (375 kW in the evo versions), engineers looked beyond the power-hungry, tail-sliding histrionics of the formula and instead focused on making the T16 light (just 1 000 kg), compact, fleet-footed and – crucial to its success – easy to drive. While other drivers would alight from their quattros and O37s allegedly wideeyed and shaking with adrenaline, the 1985 world champion Timo Salonen, ’86 world champion Juha Kankkunen and immensely talented Ari Vatanen could drive their T16s to the maximum with undue risk.

The mid-engined, turbocharged, four-wheel-drive car debuted in Corsica in 1984 and took just three rallies to become a winner. From there, it became the yardstick for all manufacturers. Power steering was added at the end of ’84 along with more power and an innovative anti-lag system thanks to Peugeot’s F1 know-how.

The little Peugeot would become the most successful Group B WRC rally car ever with 16 victories and two manufacturer and driver world championships. Dynamite comes in small packages.

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Votren De Este Votren De Este 3 months ago #

As a volunteer for the peugeot sport club uk and the owner of a 205 GTI [pictured] for some 22 years, it was fantastic to see fellow 205 owner Adam Towler’s 106 Rallye ‘Icon’ story and Stephen Dobie’s 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport join the Fast Fleet. However, it also saddened me thinking about the death of the Peugeot GTI and Rallye badges and the affordable small hot hatch as a whole. As a ’90s kid I grew up in the time of the 106 Rallye, 106 GTi, Nova GSi, Fiesta XR2, 5 Turbo and, of course, the 205 GTI. Then as an adult I saw the string of fantastic hot Renault Clios, the Fiesta ST… heck, even the Corsa VXR was supposed to be a good steer. Today, of those only the Fiesta survives, joined by the Hyundai i20 N, but at £25,000, and the Toyota GR Yaris, which is £30,000! Then there are several larger hot hatches that are even more expensive. Hardly the affordable hot hatch replacements to my ’90s pocket rockets.


I think that the loss of the affordable small hot hatch will in turn be the death of the young car enthusiast. They simply won’t have performance cars that they can afford so they will spend their money on the latest iPhones and making sure their avatar in the metaverse has the latest accessories instead. RIP Peugeot hot hatches, RIP the affordable, small hot hatch and RIP the young car enthusiast. Yours cynically.

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