Tuesday, 8 May 2012 2:51 PM
A successful rally car can do wonders for a brand’s sporting image. Just think how many Peugeot 205 GTi hot hatches were sold off the back of Peugeot’s adrenalin-fuelled rally wins back in the 80s. Thousands, basically.
And sure, while the cars of modern rallying are different, safer and ultimately less thrilling than the Group B maniac-machines of a few decades ago; petrol-headed punters – and perhaps no more so than in the UK – still look at the various rally competitions for hot hatch inspiration, be that buying a new one or spending time, money and love tuning up one they already own.
Step up the Peugeot 208 R2 rally; the first of three new competition cars to be based on the brand’s new supermini 208. And while, yes, competition-spec road cars expectedly look about 100 per cent more delicious than their factory-standard counterpart, it’s good to see that Peugeot’s hotly anticipated new 208 looks seriously saucy in her ready-to-rally outfit.
The 208 R2 will cost around £30K when it goes on sale later this year and we can all see it in action – TV coverage dependent – in next week’s Tour de Corse (May 10-12); the fourth round of the 2012 Intercontinental Rallye Challenge, with Peugeot Sport driver Stéphane Sarrazin and co-driver Benjamin Veillas putting it through development paces.
You get a mouth-watering spec for your £30K – aimed at anyone with the cash that wants to go rallying, and designed to try and keep those generally high motorsport costs down with better fuel consumption and lower cost consumable parts. The 208 R2 has been built from the ground up with jumps, donuts and Scandinavian flicks in mind. And with 185bhp of naturally-aspirated, 1600cc, 4-cylinder power, can you imagine what a big fun, little screamer this car would be at full tilt through the woods!
Here’s some more R2 – definitely not D2! – rally car spec for you:
Body: The 208’s bodyshell is approximately 40kg lighter than that of the 207, while its long wheelbase ensures stability. Weight-saving work has lowered the centre of gravity further.
Engine: Peugeot Sport started with a clean sheet of paper and achieved 185bhp from the naturally-aspirated base-engine, as found in the road-going 208. With one or two modifications! The modern powerplant comes with variable valve timing for the intake and exhaust and Group R regulations specify that the valves must be of the same size as those of the standard engine. The main factors which influence performance in normally-aspirated engines are its valves and intake, so there was much fine-tuning here. Peugeot Sport also worked closely with partners Sodemo to make their new engine more driver-friendly by focusing on flexibility rather than on peak power which often goes unused in rallying.
Suspension: Peugeot retained their proven three-way adjustable dampers from the 207 competition cars, but added a new, bespoke adjustable hydraulic bump stop developed specially in association with Öhlins. The R2 also features a specific wishbone arrangement which increases suspension travel.
Brakes: Hauling the 208 R2 is a set of single Alcon floating calipers clamping on standard, re-machined brake discs. A floating caliper arrangement makes the conversion from gravel- to asphalt-spec easier and quicker as it only requires the caliper mount to be changed.
And that’s just the half of it! Bodes well for the road-going 208 GTi, no? Enjoy the pics…