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Peugeot 205 T16: A 1980s 4WD Mid-Engine Rabid Bunny That Needs To Be Remembered
An epic hot hatch that few seem to remember nowadays, the 205 T16 was an insane 1980s homologation special the likes of which you rarely saw on public roads during that exciting decade.

Peugeot 205 T16: A 1980s 4WD Mid-Engine Rabid Bunny That Needs To Be Remembered

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It all starts in 1983 when the French carmaker introduced the 205, a small hatchback aimed at the European supermini segment. The four-wheeled embodiment of the word basic, it was an affordable entry-level car intended to move people around, so it quickly a bestseller and helped turn Peugeot’s fortunes around. Still, there was absolutely nothing sporty or exciting about it.

That changed one year later when the 104-hp GTI version was launched as a competitor for the German Golf that donned the same nameplate. But this version was just a preview of what was about to come.

Peugeot had established a motorsport department several years earlier and was already working on a 205 meant to compete against the mighty Audi Quattro in the World Rally Championship’s popular Group B. With homologation regulations requiring carmakers to build 200 road-legal variants, the 205 T16 (or Turbo 6 in France) was born.

Conceived around a heavily modified, steel monocoque chassis, this rabid little bunny had almost nothing in common with its mass-produced counterpart. The suspension featured double wishbones, Bilstein performance shocks, and anti-roll at both ends.

Similar to what rivals Renault had done with the 5 Turbo four years earlier, Peugeot engineers decided to mount the powerplant behind the driver for better weight distribution, transforming the dull four-seat 205 into an exciting mid-engine two-seater. The gasoline unit in question was based on the cast-iron block of a four-cylinder diesel and was specifically designed for the company’s rally endeavor. Engineers equipped it with performance internals, a Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system, and a new 16-valve cylinder head. Since this was the 1980s, a Kuhnle, Kopp & Kausch turbocharger was added for extra power.

In rally spec, the engine could produce over 500 hp but the road-going version had to be emission-compliant and deliver adequate fuel consumption, so it was limited to 197 hp and 188 lb-ft (255 Nm) of torque. All that power was transferred to all four wheels through a permanent 4WD system that gave it supreme handling characteristics and made those lucky enough to get their hands one feel like a rally driver.

The special bodywork was created by French coachbuilders Heuliez. Although it was based on the standard shell of the standard three-door version, the structure was heavily modified using thinner sheet metal and gained several aerodynamic improvements. Undoubtedly its coolest feature was the rear section which lifted in its entirety to allow access to the engine and gearbox.

Tipping the scale at 2,161 lbs (980 kg), the car could accelerate to 60 mph (97 kph) from a standstill in 7.3 seconds. Even back then, that figure wasn’t particularly mind-blowing, but for a street-legal rally car that was limited to only 200 ponies, it was more than enough to deliver a thrilling experience.

The T16 showed just how epic of a machine it was during the 1985 and 1986 seasons. It dominated the Audi Quattro, Lancia Delta S4, or the Ford RS2000 on its way to two consecutive Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles.

Today, few mainstream enthusiasts remember this amazing pocket rocket which was an icon of rallying’s most exciting era.

The idea of fitting a 4WD system and placing an engine in the middle of a 205 was pure insanity. Peugeot didn’t just turn it into reality, giving birth to a fantastic homologation special, but also did it so flawlessly that it ended up dominating the WRC. For that, the 205 T16 deserves to be remembered and mentioned alongside rally legends such as the Audi Quattro.

Thanks to Motorvision International, you can learn more about this fantastic vehicle in the YouTube video below.

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