Popular opinion has it that the 1980s was the golden era of the hot hatchback and the Peugeot 205 GTi its best product. But has time distorted this perspective? Let’s revisit our 10-car test from 1985.
With a budget of just over £8000 (equivalent to almost £25,000 today), we gathered some of the greatest hot hatches on the market from Citroën, Fiat, Honda and MG among others to see what would come out on top. We wanted to include the Renault 5 Turbo, too, but decided against it as it wasn’t on sale in the UK yet.
Bringing up the rear was the Lancia Y10 Turbo. The cheapest car of the bunch at £5800 (just under £18,000 today), it felt out of its depth.
“While excellent for what it is and surprisingly fast, the little Lancia isn’t as sporting as the bigger competition,” we said. The Y10 was one of two turbocharged cars in the test, although it was the only car without fuel injection - probably part of the reason for the sluggish 0-60mph of 11.8sec time.
Just 15 Y10 Turbos remain in the UK today, according to government figures.
Next came the Vauxhall Astra GTE. We described its styling as “the sort which causes arguments in pubs”, and at the time our placing of it in ninth position would probably have done the same.
The Astra GTE was followed by the Honda Civic GT, which featured the lively mix of a “waspish engine that is fun if not refined” and “rather unpredictable handling when driven on track”.