The Peugeot 305 is a small family car produced by the French automaker Peugeot from 1977 to 1989.
It was offered as a 4-door saloon, 5-door estate, and 2-door van body derivative.
During the mid to late 1970s, the motoring press speculated that a new Peugeot would soon arrive, in order to update the company's model lineup, in an attempt to make the Peugeot more internationally appealing. Since Peugeot had only recently discontinued their Peugeot 404 model, many people thought that the purpose of the new car was to fill the gap, previously occupied by the 404, between the Peugeot 304 and Peugeot 504 models.
It therefore would have been natural for the new car to be called the 405. The car was to be developed from and use the running gear from the 304, but in terms of size and price, it was to succeed the 404, especially considering that the top model in the new range would cost more than the entry-level 504, and that the 304 would remain in production some time after the new car was introduced. Instead of being called the 405, the new car was called the 305. When it made its press debut in November 1977, the motoring press were initially confused as to why it was called a 305 rather than a 405, but it sold well anyway.
The Peugeot 305 went on sale in Europe in 1977, and was initially available as a four-door saloon with a choice of two petrol engines: a 1290 cc, 65 bhp (48 kW; 66 PS) unit for the GL and GR models or a 1472 cc, 74 bhp (55 kW; 75 PS) for the top-specification SR model after facelift top model was GTX, with 105 hp (78 kW). It was the first of the "05" generation of Peugeots, a generation which survived until the end of 605 production in 1999.
Despite that drawback with the smaller engine, the gearbox in all 305s was excellent, with extremely precise and light gear changes. The 305 combined a front-wheel-drive car with an excellent and durable gearbox. On the downside, there was no fifth gear provided but, especially at motorway speeds, the four gears gave the 305 the maximum power it needed in fourth. Peugeot was reported to have said that the car had no difficulty reaching 95 mph (153 km/h) if pushed to the limit.
Its key competitors were the Ford Escort, Volkswagen Golf and the Opel Kadett/Vauxhall Astra, but it was actually considerably larger than most other cars in its class. In fact, it was almost as large as the Ford Cortina, Opel Ascona/Vauxhall Cavalier and Fiat 132. Power came from 1.3, 1.5, 1.6 petrol and 1.6 diesel engines and later after the facelift, a Peugeot 1.9 petrol and XUD diesel engine as used in the Talbot Horizon, a model acquired in 1979, when Peugeot took over Chrysler's European division and rebranded it as Talbot.
The facelifted 'series 2' models arrived in 1982. They had revised frontal styling, new improved front suspension and steering, a new dashboard and a modified under bonnet and subframe layout to allow the new generation of XU series engines with 5-speed gearbox to be fitted. Thus switching from the Mini type in-sump gearbox arrangement used also in the 204 and 304 to the now-universal end-on gearbox configuration (pioneered by the Autobianchi Primula), of front-wheel drive with a transverse engine and a gearbox on the end of the engine and unequal-length drive shafts. However, the GL / GR & van models continued to use the earlier XL/XR series engines with four-speed gearbox for a few more years.
Sales of the 305 were strong in France and most other countries where the car was sold, though Peugeot found its British sales volumes disappointing. The problem was eased in January 1986 when Peugeot launched the 309, a replacement for the Talbot Horizon which took some of the pressure off the larger 305.
The car won 1979 What Car? car of the year in the UK.
Production of saloons ceased in 1988 following the launch of the slightly larger and more powerful Peugeot 405, which was a much stronger seller in the UK. Production of 305 estates ceased in 1989 and vans a few years later.
The diesel engine fitted to the phase 2 305 was capable of over 50mpg. The engine at the time was regarded as the best diesel around where most other engines notably those from VW and British Leyland sounded agricultural in comparison.
The body was done by Italian stylist Pininfarina and was completely new. It was all-steel monocoque which strongly resembled the BMW 3-Series of the time. The design is based on Peugeot's 'VSS' prototype safety vehicle, which Peugeot created to improve car safety. This meant that the car had front and rear crumple zones, side impact protection, a protected fuel tank and bolt-on front wings.
Three bodystyles were available, consisting of a conventional three-box four-door sedan, a five-door station wagon, and a three-door panel van.
The 305 estate marked the debut of the now standard PSA Peugeot Citroën rear suspension layout. This is fully independent using horizontal coil springs and trailing arms. It is very compact and was designed to minimise suspension intrusion into the wide flat loadspace, while providing excellent ride and handling. This was later developed (in other Peugeots) to use torsion bars and it was a key ingredient of the success of the Peugeot 205. The compression ratio was 9:2:1.