Retro Road Test: Peugeot 205 vs. Rover Metro (2024)

In the pantheon of iconic small cars from the 1980s and 1990s, the Peugeot 205 and Rover Metro stand out as two of the most memorable and influential models. Both cars were beloved for their nimble handling, efficient use of space, and accessible pricing. This detailed road test will compare these two hatchbacks across various parameters, including design, performance, interior comfort, handling, and practicality.

Design and Styling

Peugeot 205

The Peugeot 205, introduced in 1983, became a design icon almost instantly. Styled by Pininfarina, the 205 boasted clean lines, a balanced profile, and a distinctive charm that made it stand out in the small car segment. The car’s compact dimensions and sharp angles gave it a sporty appearance, while the black plastic bumpers added to its practical and rugged look. The GTI version, with its body-colored bumpers and sporty trimmings, further enhanced the car’s visual appeal, making it an object of desire among young drivers and enthusiasts.

Rover Metro

The Rover Metro, launched as the Austin Metro in 1980 and later rebranded as the Rover Metro in 1990, presented a more conservative but equally charming design. The Metro’s boxy shape and large glass areas contributed to its spacious feel, while the facelift in 1990 introduced softer, more rounded edges that modernized its appearance. The Rover Metro aimed for a more understated elegance compared to the 205, with a focus on practicality and efficient use of space. The later versions, especially the Metro GTa and GTi, incorporated sporty elements that gave the car a more dynamic look.

Performance and Drivetrain

Peugeot 205

The Peugeot 205 range offered a variety of engines, from small-displacement petrol engines to robust diesel options. The standout performer in the lineup was undoubtedly the 205 GTI, available with a 1.6-liter or 1.9-liter engine. The 1.6 GTI produced around 105 horsepower, while the 1.9 GTI delivered a thrilling 130 horsepower. These engines were mated to a crisp five-speed manual gearbox, offering an engaging driving experience. The 205’s lightweight construction (starting around 800 kg for base models) further enhanced its performance, making it a joy to drive in both urban and rural settings.

Rover Metro

The Rover Metro offered a range of A-series and later K-series engines. The 1.1 and 1.4-liter K-series engines were particularly noteworthy, providing a good balance of power and efficiency. The 1.4 GTa and GTi models, producing 95 and 103 horsepower respectively, were the top performers. These engines, coupled with a five-speed manual transmission, delivered decent acceleration and respectable top speeds. The Metro’s lightweight design (starting around 850 kg) ensured nimble handling and good fuel economy, making it a practical choice for city driving.

Handling and Ride Quality

Peugeot 205

One of the defining characteristics of the Peugeot 205 was its exceptional handling. The car’s MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear axle provided a balanced and responsive ride. The steering was direct and communicative, giving the driver confidence in corners. The 205 GTI, in particular, was praised for its agility and grip, making it one of the best-handling small cars of its time. Even the base models offered a comfortable ride quality, soaking up bumps and imperfections with ease.

Rover Metro

The Rover Metro’s Hydragas suspension system was its standout feature, providing a smooth and composed ride. This system used interconnected fluid and gas-filled spheres to absorb shocks, offering a level of comfort typically found in larger cars. The Metro’s handling was predictable and stable, with light and precise steering that made it easy to maneuver in tight spaces. While not as sporty as the 205, the Metro GTa and GTi models delivered a spirited driving experience, with improved suspension tuning and wider tires for better grip.

Interior Comfort and Features

Peugeot 205

Inside, the Peugeot 205 offered a driver-focused cabin with a simple yet functional design. The dashboard layout was straightforward, with easy-to-read gauges and accessible controls. The seats were supportive, with enough adjustability to suit drivers of various sizes. While the base models were sparsely equipped, the higher trims and GTI versions included amenities such as sport seats, electric windows, and a sunroof. The 205’s compact dimensions meant that rear seat space was limited, but the clever use of space ensured that it never felt cramped.

Rover Metro

The Rover Metro’s interior was designed with practicality and comfort in mind. The boxy shape allowed for a spacious cabin, with ample headroom and legroom for both front and rear passengers. The dashboard design was more modern than that of the early 205, with a clean and functional layout. Higher trim levels featured comfortable seats with good support, as well as conveniences like electric windows, central locking, and a decent sound system. The Metro also offered a surprising amount of cargo space for a small car, with a versatile rear seat that could be folded down to increase the luggage area.

Practicality and Economy

Peugeot 205

The Peugeot 205 excelled in offering a practical solution for everyday driving. Its compact size made it easy to park and maneuver in city traffic, while the efficient engines ensured low running costs. The diesel versions, in particular, were known for their impressive fuel economy, often exceeding 50 mpg. The 205 also had a reputation for reliability, with many examples still running strong decades after they were first built. The hatchback design provided decent cargo space, making it a versatile choice for small families or those needing to carry occasional loads.

Rover Metro

The Rover Metro was equally practical, with a focus on maximizing interior space within its compact footprint. The Hydragas suspension contributed to a comfortable ride, even on rough roads, making it a practical choice for a variety of driving conditions. The Metro’s efficient engines delivered good fuel economy, with the K-series engines being particularly frugal. The car’s low insurance group and affordable maintenance costs made it an attractive option for budget-conscious drivers. The flexible seating arrangement and ample cargo space added to its practicality, making it a versatile and economical choice for everyday use.

Legacy and Influence

Peugeot 205

The Peugeot 205 left an indelible mark on the automotive world. It was a commercial success, with over 5 million units sold during its production run. The 205 GTI, in particular, became a legend in the hot hatch segment, often cited as one of the best hot hatches ever made. The 205’s success helped establish Peugeot as a major player in the small car market and influenced the design and engineering of future models. Even today, the 205 is fondly remembered by enthusiasts and collectors, with well-preserved examples commanding high prices in the classic car market.

Rover Metro

The Rover Metro also enjoyed significant success, particularly in the UK where it was seen as a quintessentially British small car. Its evolution from the Austin Metro to the Rover Metro reflected the changes in the British automotive industry during the 1980s and 1990s. The Metro’s practicality, comfort, and affordability made it a popular choice among a wide range of drivers, from young professionals to retirees. Although it never achieved the same iconic status as the 205 GTI, the Metro is remembered as a reliable and versatile small car that served its owners well.


In comparing the Peugeot 205 and Rover Metro, it is clear that both cars had their unique strengths and appeal. The Peugeot 205, with its sporty design, engaging driving dynamics, and iconic GTI version, offered a thrilling and stylish option for those seeking a fun-to-drive small car. Its handling prowess and timeless design continue to be celebrated by enthusiasts.

The Rover Metro, on the other hand, prioritized practicality, comfort, and efficiency. Its spacious interior, smooth ride, and affordable running costs made it a sensible choice for everyday use. The Hydragas suspension system provided a level of comfort that was unmatched in its class, while the K-series engines delivered reliable performance and good fuel economy.

Ultimately, the choice between the Peugeot 205 and Rover Metro would come down to individual preferences and priorities. Drivers seeking a more dynamic and sporty experience would likely gravitate towards the 205, especially the GTI variants. Those looking for a practical, comfortable, and economical small car would find the Metro to be an excellent choice.

Both the Peugeot 205 and Rover Metro have earned their place in automotive history, each leaving a lasting legacy in the world of small cars. Whether remembered for their performance, practicality, or enduring charm, these two models continue to be celebrated by enthusiasts and collectors alike.

Retro Road Test: Peugeot 205 vs. Rover Metro (2024)


Are Peugeot 205 reliable? ›

The 205 was a best seller for several reasons – practicality, affordability, choice and reliability were just some of the key ones. While it may seem rather modern to be badged as a classic, and the car that saved Peugeot's bacon in the Eighties, the 205 deserves some recognition as an all-time great.

What insurance group is a Peugeot 205 GTI? ›

What insurance group is the Peugeot 205 found in? Insurance groups range from one (the cheapest) to 50 (the most expensive). Peugeot 205s range from insurance groups 4 to 8 depending on the age, precise model and specification.

When did they stop making the Peugeot 205? ›

The 205 was developed from 1977 as Projet M24, and introduced on 25 February 1983 as a replacement for the Peugeot 104 and Talbot Samba. It ended production in 1998, to be replaced by the Peugeot 206.

How long will a Peugeot engine last? ›

Peugeot engines have always been dependable. As long as you take good care of the engine, you can expect it to last above the 100,000 miles mark. Carefully looked after and routinely-serviced Peugeot engines can easily extend across the 150K mile mark, and well over the 15-year expected lifespan.

What is the most reliable Peugeot ever made? ›

The smaller models of Peugeot especially tend to be regarded as both affordable and highly reliable, particularly models such as the Peugeot 107, 206, and 308.

Was the Peugeot 205 sold in the US? ›

Seen by critics as a slam-dunk for the US market, Peugeot inexplicably never brought it here, instead plodding ahead with their large sedans until leaving the US market in 1991. The 205 line was phased out in 1998.

How much horsepower does a Peugeot 205 have? ›

200 horsepower! The PEUGEOT 205 was the first small PEUGEOT to receive such a wide and varied range of engines - from 45 to 200 horsepower! - and an automatic gearbox, a rare option on the market at the time. From its launch in 1983, it came with four petrol engines and one diesel.

Is the Peugeot 205 front wheel drive? ›

The Peugeot 205 Rallye is the most fun FWD car ever | Thank Frankel it's Friday.

Why did Peugeot fail in the US? ›

Peugeot's withdrawal from the US market in 1991 illustrates the difficulties of global marketing. Peugeot failed to develop a US strategy and did not adapt its policies and products for US consumers. The company must build a relationship with US consumers if it wants to return to the US market.

Does the PEUGEOT 205 rust? ›

Rusty 205's are a rare sight, even the A & B reg examples are usually pretty rust free, although it's worth checking the rear hatch for signs of rust around the rear screen.

Is Peugeot a high end car? ›

This car maker has grand plans to become upwardly mobile as it brings in a string of top-shelf SUVs and electrified cars this year and next.

Is Peugeot expensive to maintain? ›

As for servicing costs, the French brand hasn't necessarily managed to get it down to where it should be - on average, Peugeot models are more expensive to maintain than pretty much any other brand, be it from Europe or elsewhere.

Is the Peugeot EV reliable? ›

Peugeot E-208 reliability & problems

Peugeot fared well in the 2023 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, finishing ninth overall out of 32 brands. What's more, the E-208 in particular was rated the 10th-best EV to own – not bad considering how many new electric models there are now.

Does Peugeot 205 rust? ›

Rusty 205's are a rare sight, even the A & B reg examples are usually pretty rust free, although it's worth checking the rear hatch for signs of rust around the rear screen.

Are Peugeot 208 engines reliable? ›

The 208 is not reliable, according to the latest What Car? Reliability Survey. It finished in second to last place in the small car class, scoring just 87%. Electrical gremlins afflicted more than 15% of 208s, centred around the infotainment system and the switches.

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