Peugeot 308 R HYbrid – The Family-Sized Compact Supercar

Feast your eyes, ladies and gentlemen, on the ultimate 308. French auto giants Peugeot have unveiled a stunning new version of the award-winning compact family hatchback – only this time it’s sporting a combined 500bhp and four-wheel drive.

The 308 R HYbrid, (their extra capital letter) has been developed by Peugeot Sport, the brand’s in-house engineering and racing division, which last year unveiled the critically acclaimed RCZ R (coming to DriveWrite very shortly). The car’s plug-in petrol hybrid powertrain pushes the boundaries of sporting prowess in the segment, offering truly extraordinary performance. The car is capable of hitting 62mph in just 4.0 seconds, yet still has astonishingly low CO² emissions of 70g/km, say the company.

The contemporary style and sporting prowess of the 308 – voted Car of the Year in 2014 – remain clearly visible. However, the 308 R HYbrid also re-imagines design cues explored on the Quartz concept (pictured below), seen most recently at the Geneva Motor Show last March. With front and rear tracks widened by 80mm and riding on 235/35 R19 tyres, the 308 R HYbrid has been created to devour the road. Its front end styling is dynamic and imposing, with expressive louvres on the bonnet and sharp edges combined with sleek surfaces in its bumper. The grille features a chequered pattern which allows air to cool the innovative 500hp powertrain. The side scoops are home to the sequential LED indicators, while the central scoop sports the 308 R HYbrid signature.Cloaked in an intense blue and developed using fluorescent pigments and glass particles, this colour salutes both the hybrid powertrain and the shade historically reserved for French competition vehicles. On the rear doors, the blue is matched with a matte black, giving a new interpretation of the car’s clean lines. At the rear, this sporting 308 is remarkably understated. There’s a narrow spoiler at the top of the tailgate reinforcing the aerodynamics. The bumper’s twin air scoops help keep the battery temperature down by drawing out the hot air, whilst the lower section is embellished with a touch of white emphasising the car’s dynamic character.
Peugeot’s ‘i-Cockpit’ instrumentation means the interior is familiar, but that’s where similarities to the standard 308 end. Four individual sports seats, upholstered in fawn-coloured patinated leather, create a dramatic interior which point to the sole aim of PEUGEOT 308 R HYbrid – world-class performance. The upper fittings and roof lining are slate grey and in true sporting tradition, the cabin is finished with touches of red, with particular attention paid around the dials, steering wheel centre marker and central console.

In a unique twist, the PEUGEOT 308 R HYbrid uses materials taken from the range, which the brand usually reserves for concept cars. Hence, the dashboard is covered in a fabric produced using a digital weaving technique. This innovative material can be used to produce large and complex parts that are soft to the touch with no need for foam, making for a lighter vehicle apparently.

The compact steering wheel, upholstered in perforated leather and bearing the ‘308 R HYbrid’ logo, allows for precise positioning during cornering. The steering wheel paddles fall immediately to hand, giving the driver finger-tip control over the six-speed gearbox. A head-up display provides all relevant driving information without the need to take your eyes off the road. Let’s hope that includes speed limits. Finally, the two buttons on the central console allow the driver to keep a check on the mechanics; the first activates the powerful powertrain, whilst the second gives access to four driving modes.

At the heart of this spectacular car is an astounding technical innovation – a plug-in powertrain with four-wheel drive that develops 500hp. The unit combines three sources of power, each capable of moving the vehicle independently of the others. They are a four-cylinder 1.6-litre THP 270 S&S petrol engine, plus two electric motors – each with power of 85kW/115hp – mounted one on each axle. The front one is linked to the six-speed gearbox.The result is a family hatchback (!) which is capable of supercar performance. This amazing motor can apparently hit the magic 62mph from a standing start in only 4.0 seconds, with top speed electronically limited to 155mph. In spite of such astonishing performance as mentioned CO² emissions are just 70g/km.

For impeccable dynamic handling, the car’s weight has been optimised and placed as low as possible. The lithium-ion 3kWh battery has an excellent ratio between power and size, and is housed under the rear seats in place of the fuel tank. In turn, the 50-litre tank has been placed in the boot above the rear electric motor and two transformers.

There are no less than four driving modes: Hot Lap mode is the most powerful, harnessing the full potential from the three power sources to reach a total of 500hp and maximum torque of 730Nm. Track mode delivers 400hp and 530Nm, mainly from the petrol engine and the rear electric motor. The front electric motor serves as an additional booster when accelerating. Road mode is specially designed for road use with power of 300hp and torque of 400Nm. The petrol engine delivers its full potential, while the rear electric motor helps during accelerations. The front electric motor is not used in this mode. Finally there’s the ZEV mode which makes priority use of the rear electric motor. The front electric motor comes into play, depending on the pressure applied on the accelerator pedal.

The all-wheel drive system of the Peugeot 308 R HYbrid makes for formidable handling, especially when coming out of the corners. The braking system is on a par with the car’s performance, with 380mm ventilated discs at the front, gripped by four pistons, and 290mm discs to the rear. However, they are not used every time the brakes are applied, because PEUGEOT Sport has designed the powertrain to decelerate using the electric motors throughout the full speed range, starting at 155mph. Not only does this preserve the discs and pads, but uses regenerative braking to recharge the battery. Genius.

It is one of three recharging strategies. The second uses the front electric motor as a generator, driven by the petrol engine, while the third solution is a rapid recharging terminal restoring the battery to its maximum power in just 45 minutes. You can keep up with the very latest news at #PEUGEOT308RHYbrid.

Peugeot – no prevarication please, we want the 308 R HYbrid now as a matter of some urgency. Thank you.Geoff Maxted