As seen on Top Gear: first Tolman 205 GTI hits the road
Unlike the Porsche 911 GT3 RS we drove recently, we haven’t sampled the Tolman 205 GTI on the Top Gear test track.
However, if you watched the BBC motoring show last night, you’ll know the TG team – Chris Harris, Freddie Flintoff and Paddy McGuinness – did just that. So why is everyone getting excited about an old Peugeot?
Well, as any car bore will tell you, the 205 GTI is widely considered the greatest hot hatchback of all time. Eager performance, agile handling and steering that fizzed with feedback all made it a standard-setting, life-affirming joy to drive. Factor in practicality and affordable prices and a giant-killer was born.
‘Jump in and drive’
Warwickshire-based Tolman Motorsport aims to enhance the GTI without diluting its classic character. Founder Chris Tolman said: “Back in the 80s and 90s, for me and I’m sure many others, 205 GTIs were a first taste in performance cars: something rewarding, responsive and engaging.
“We wanted to recreate that feeling of being at one with the road, a car you can just jump in and simply enjoy driving hard. Current hot hatches surpass these cars in so many areas, but despite having loads of power and incredible dynamics, they fail to rekindle that emotional involvement that made us feel special with the 205.”
The Peugeot 205 GTI Tolman Edition (to use its full title) is an ‘OEM+’ restomod, rebuilt from a bare shell – a process that takes 700 hours – with more power, electronic engine management, uprated suspension, better brakes, corrosion protection and modern LED lighting.
Optional extras include a Quaife limited-slip differential, air conditioning, digital dials and a touchscreen with Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity.
The Tolman treatment
We drove the 130hp 1.6-litre development car, as featured on Top Gear, last summer. Our verdict? ‘It feels like a 205 GTI after a few months at the gym: fitter and more focused.’
Now the first customer Tolman Edition (pictured here) has been revealed, complete with some choice upgrades – notably a 1.9-litre 16-valve engine producing a zesty 200hp. In a car weighing around 900kg, that should be plenty…
Prices for the restomod 205 GTI start from £55,000, and we’re told other hot hatches of the 1980s and 1990s will get the Tolman treatment soon. It will be interesting to see what the company tackles next. A Renault Clio Williams, perhaps, or a Ford Escort Cosworth? Watch this space.
Tim Pitt writes for Motoring Research