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February 22nd, 2018

Hot hatchbacks bring a unique set of skills to the table. The combination of small size, relative affordability, practicality and enough pace to keep a large chunk of sportscars honest make most hot hatches ideal for a one car garage. So it isn’t without surprise that we no find ourselves in what is probably the golden age of ho hatches. Cars like the VW Golf R, the Focus RS and the Honda Civic Type R are only some of the wide spectrum of cars which provide varying doses of fun and practicality for evry type of enthusiast buyer.

This however, is not a new phenomenon by any stretch. Since the first hot hatch – the Mk I Golf GTi – showed up in 1974, most carmakers decided to try their hand at this formula. This was especially true of European manufacturers who came up with gems like the Renault 5 Turbo, The Ford Lotus Cortina and the Lancia Delta Integrale and the standard Peugeot 205 GTi.

The Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 (T16 outside France) though was a different beast altogether. Developed by motorsport legend Jean Todt and under the company’s rallying outpost Peugeat-Talbot Sport, cost was a non-issue for the company during this project. These cars were being built as per Group B homologation regulations and a conscious effort was made to make the styling resemble the standard 205 range as much as possible. The body was built around a tubular steel structure and came with flared wheel arches, oversized airscoops along the sides and bonnet, and a clamshell rear opening to access the engine. Only the headlight, roof, windscreen and a few other minor components was carried over from the standard car.

The engine too was developed from the ground up. It used a cast iron block from Peugeot’s XU family of diesel engines but with a specially developed 16-valve head to allow it to run on petrol. The 1775 cc DOHC 4-cylinder was mounted transversely behind the seats in a mid engined layout. This put out 197 bhp and 255 Nm of torque and was mated to a 5 speed manual from the Citreon SM. Uniquely, this gearbox was mounted behind the engine rather than under it, as is common practice for cars with this engine layout. The Turbo 16 also came with disc brakes on all four wheels and independent suspension throughout. All of this allowed the 1350 kg (2976 lbs.) car to get to a top speed of 210 kph (131 mph) and a 0 to 60 mph (96 kph) time of 5.7s. The obviously two seater interior was also slightly spruced up in two-tone grey leather and Alcantara with uprated seats and instrumentation.

The car seen here is the 1984 Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 is up for auction at RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island sale is the 189th example and comes in the metallic grey with red detailing paintjob that was standard for all Turbo 16s. It has only been driven for 48,000 km since new and has remained in top notch original condition.

The Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 was easily one of the most hardcore hot hatches ever. The Group B car would be the most successful car ever in that classification with 16 outright wins and 3 world championships. While the road car’s 197 bhp output was a far cry from the 500 bhp that the Group B cars produced, it met its brief as far as buyers and Peugeot were concerned. The Turbo 16 was quicker than any of its rivals and competed in price with Porsches and Ferraris of that period.  It was put into production to change the Peugeot’s image from a maker of staid but reliable family workhorses to one of smart, sporty small cars. This is exactly what happened, so much so that Peugeots even today have a hard time living up the acclaim of this car.

Photos Courtesy- Erik Fuller for RM Sotheby’s

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