Peugeot 309 Profile

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Peugeot 309 General Information

Once groupB was banned from the WRC, and the Peugeot 205 T16 with it, Peugeot stayed involved with groupA rallying mainly in national championships. Here the preferred car however was not the groupA 205 GTI but the 309 GTI. Indeed, don't underestimate Peugeot's involvement in rallying post groupB. Official 309 entries included in the French Division1 Guy Fréquelin, Francois Delecour, Fabien Doenlen, French Division2 Christian Gazaud, Stefane Cornu, Patrick Vernet, German Championship Kalle Grundel, BRC Kalle Grundel, Haakan Eriksson, Mikael Sundström, Richard Burns....

The Peugeot 309 came to its name in somewhat tragic circumstances. You will note that the 309 number doesn't fit into the decade of the "05"-generation. And the 309 influences Peugeot name strategies possibly forever. Because right now Peugeot considers the 08-generation as the last generation, keeping this identity, because the 09 would be an old generation car - that's how famous the 309 still is, even the 309 is the only 09-ending car name Peugeot ever had! Well, the death of Talbot came a bit as a shock and Peugeot considered calling the 309 the 303, because that funny number was never used, but the 303 name would have made this Talbot-C28 project old fashioned by name in the 05-era and it deserved better than that.

But why was it called "09" in the first place? The 309 originally should have been a Talbot to replace the Horizon, and indeed the first cars left the Coventry conveyor belts badged as Talbot Arizona. There also was a GTI equivalent, called Talbot Arizona TI, which had the engine and running gear of the 205 GTI 1.6 - interestingly as a Peugeot the 309 GTI was never available with a 1.6. Anyway, the Talbot brand name was then killed off and there was no number free in the according 3-size category. Mind you the 305 was a very old fashioned car and so the Arizona could fit well as a Peugeot. The 205 was just launched and turned a huge seller and work was under way for a 405. The modern and sleek looking 405 was a rather small car for a 4-series Peugeot, meant to replace the 305 somewhere down the line. But the 405 was still 2 years away and like the 305 was only designed as a 4-door saloon plus estate versions, it still left a gap to the 205 for a C-segment hatchback. And a C-segment hatchback promised to be a good seller too in those days. But the 305 name was already used and stood for an old, conservative saloon. And with 205 still new and 405 on the way Peugeot did not want to start the 06-generation just yet. Indeed the first 06 car, the 106, was still 7 years away. Peugeot for a moment considered calling it the 303, as the 03-generation only consisted of 2 models and there never was a 303. But that would have been even more old fashioned. And so the Talbot Arizona received the out of order number 309.

Talking of Talbot, it is a shame this brand went under. And I believe they could have been saved for... well afterwards it's easy to be clever. To not make the Talbot Espace, which then Renault built under the same name, surely was a big mistake. But when the decision came to close Talbot, the Arizona was not the only new model in the pipeline. The Talbot Samba Mk2 was planned as simply a re-badged Citroën AX. And that would have been very clever, because one of the biggest problems seemed to be that Peugeot and Talbot models were sitting at the same dealers, while Citroëns were not. And Peugeot had a gap between 104 & 106, at Citroën this gap was filled by the AX. An AX based Samba Mk2 at Peugeot dealers therefore would have been quite some story, complimenting rather than competing the existing Peugeot range. And the Horizon successor Talbot Arizona had many similarities to the best seller Peugeot 205, it just was a bit larger. OK, this is supposed to be a 309 story, not a story explaining the Talbot model range. But note that the Peugeot 309 not only at first was meant to be a Talbot, hence the odd Peugeot number, Talbot was involved in the design and the first cars were running off the Coventry production lines. This is interesting considering Peugeot Sport UK did quite a lot with this car and both Colin McRae and Richard Burns at some point moved from a Talbot Sunbeam to a Peugeot 309 with works status. The car may have been called a Peugeot, was largely similar to the 205, but still somehow had some Talbot genes that could still be sensed in some rally programs.

Despite its Talbot origins, under the skin the 205 and the 309 were very similar cars. The Peugeot 309 was basically an enlarged 205 with a mini-saloon liftback rear end a la Ford Escort Mk3, Rover 200 or Volvo 343/345. On the road, as well as with privateer rally drivers, the smaller and lighter 205 was much more famous than the 309. So why wanted Peugeot to rally the 309 in groupA? There were two reasons:

The obvious reason was that the 205 sold extremely well anyway, it was the 309 that desperately needed some marketing. Though in fact Peugeot Sport Deutschland director Jean-Paul Boulanger even very strongly denied this as a reason, we shouldn't underestimate the importance of driver confidence, making the 2nd reason the far more important one:

The less obvious reason was that the 309 should have been a better performer in groupA than the 205! Isn't the 309 bigger and heavier? Exactly! The 205, like so many French cars, is a nippy, crisp, oversteering FWD. The 205 however has one little disadvantage. As light and short as it is and with engine, transmission and drive all located at the front, it is a very front heavy car. The 205 rear end could occasionally become very nervous over bumps or under heavy braking. The 309 has a slightly bigger rear axle, giving the car a wider rear track and a longer wheelbase, also handy for a more settled ride at speed. Further, surprisingly the groupA 309 GTI weights only 20kg (50kg in groupN) more than the 205 and all of that added weight is in the rear end design, behind the rear axle. Hence, the 309 is a more settled and confidence boosting car than the 205. Therefore it had slightly more potential.

You could say, what used to be F2 as a main WRC sub category, in early groupA this was the 2WD category and here especially 16v hot hatches. In the late 1980s the Opel Kadett introduced strong 16v powerplants to the hot hatch history. With up to 165BHP standard, depending on the national markets, the Opel Kadett GSI was a hot hatch that could seriously trouble the likes of BMW M3 and Mercedes 190E 2.3-16. The Volkswagen Golf GTI soon followed into that 16v trend, but the Golf 2 was heavy and the engine only delivered 136BHP. The first car to give the Opel Kadett GSI 16v a run for its money in the 16v real-hot hatch category therefore was indeed the Peugeot 309, that in 1990 was launched as a limited edition 309 GTI16. The GTI16 delivers 160BHP and is much lighter and more nippy than the notoriously understeering Kadett GSI 16v. This was a time when FWD cars had it ever harder to compete for overall results in WRC events, but the 309 GTI16 was an ultra exciting car nevertheless. If you compare a road going Peugeot 309 GTI16 to a BMW M3 of that time, the 309 is 270kg lighter but is only 35BHP down in power! - Work out power to weight ratios from this and the unbelievable becomes obvious: the 309 beats the M3!

Peugeot 309 Related Content

Peugeot 309 Evolutions

Model & Evo. (Activity)
Peugeot 309 GTI 1.9 (88-93) 175/6000 194/4750 4051.1628.1380 905 (5.2) FWD (2469)
Peugeot 309 GTI16 (90-93) 211/6400 210/6200 4051.1628.1380 905 (4.3) FWD (2469)

Random Peugeot 309 Photos

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Peugeot 309 Results

This is an unofficial Car Results list and may be incomplete.

Pos Event Driver Co-Driver # Rego hh:mm:ss
62nd. 1995 WRC Rally of Great Britain R. Stoodley . UNKNOWN #66 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
45th. 1994 WRC Rally of Great Britain R. Stoodley . UNKNOWN #66 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
11th. 1993 WRC Rallye Monte Carlo J. Ballet J. Dupont #22 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
42nd. 1993 WRC Rally of Great Britain R. Stoodley . UNKNOWN #66 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
14th. 1992 WRC Rallye Monte Carlo J. Beuzelin J. Bourgoin #32 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
15th. 1992 WRC Swedish Rally H. Joki I. Karlsson #19 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
25th. 1991 WRC Swedish Rally H. Joki I. Karlsson #25 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
9th. 1991 WRC Rallye Catalunya J. Casasayas M. Dalmases #30 [UNKNOWN] 7:50:24
16th. 1991 WRC Rally of Great Britain R. Burns R. Reid #59 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
9th. 1990 WRC Rallye Monte Carlo F. Delecour C. Tilber #20 [UNKNOWN] 6:18:45
18th. 1989 WRC Swedish Rally H. Joki I. Karlsson #29 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
10th. 1988 WRC Rally of Great Britain K. Grundel J. Johannsson #29 [UNKNOWN] 7:49:38
43rd. 1988 WRC Rally of Great Britain J. Leppard . UNKNOWN #75 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00

Peugeot 309 Retirements

This is an unofficial Car Model Retirements list and may be incomplete.

Pos Event Driver Co-Driver # Rego Reason
Ret. 1992 WRC Rally of Great Britain R. Burns R. Reid #29 [UNKNOWN] SS28 crash
Ret. 1992 WRC Rally of Great Britain R. Stoodley . UNKNOWN #88 [UNKNOWN] SS99 ?
Ret. 1992 WRC Tour de Corse F. Doenlen E. Merciol #22 [UNKNOWN] SS15 crash
Ret. 1991 WRC Tour de Corse P. Magaud G. Brun #20 [UNKNOWN] SS99 crash
Ret. 1991 WRC Rallye Monte Carlo J. Beuzelin . UNKNOWN #31 [UNKNOWN] SS99 ?
Ret. 1990 WRC Rally of Great Britain H. Eriksson J. Johannsson #39 [UNKNOWN] SS7 driveshaft
Ret. 1990 WRC Tour de Corse F. Delecour C. Tilber #15 [UNKNOWN] SS11 engine
Ret. 1990 WRC Tour de Corse G. Casanova P. Martini #29 [UNKNOWN] SS99 ?
Ret. 1989 WRC Rally of Great Britain H. Eriksson J. Johannsson #29 [UNKNOWN] SS9 crash
Ret. 1989 WRC Tour de Corse F. Delecour C. Tilber #23 [UNKNOWN] SS19 electrics