R-rated 308 already sparking up Kiwis

Might the just-launched 308 GTi be trumped here by an even more electrifying edition? Peugeot NZ isn’t saying ‘non’ in respect to a ripper hybrid racer in the wings.

ALMOST double the power, more than twice the torque from an utterly avante-garde powertrain and an especially striking styling – everything about the truly fiery flagship 308 hatch Peugeot seems set to soon unleash seems just right for Kiwis, the brand’s distributor agrees.

Only two factors are keeping Peugeot New Zealand boss Simon Rose becoming too excited, yet, about the 308 R HYbrid, all-wheel-drive ultimate performance edition of a staple of the Peugeot range here.

“Assuming it is put into production, and it looks like it might be, we don’t know if it will be in right-hand-drive … and we don’t know how much it will cost,” he told Motoring Network in response to being asked of his thoughts about the 367kW mega-hatch.

A performance sensation apparently conceived to punish the likes of the Ford Focus RS and Volkswagen Golf R, R HYbrid leaps ahead of those rivals by sporting a powerplant that has an eye to the future. This is a plug-in rechargeable petrol electric.

However, even though this type of powertrain might give Peugeot good kudos here with tech-heads, it still has to price right, Rose suggests.

“We’re going to monitor and watch that part of the market, subject to where we end up with price, and then it will be something we might entertain. At this point of time we have not had that discussion.

“The price is especially important. It has to be the right money,” he added.

Even so, he can see its promise and, in spirit, it certainly conforms to Peugeot’s new direction toward greater sportiness.

“We’ve heard some amazing things about that car … I think it is another step above in terms of pure performance. I think, in theory, it’s the the sort of car you’d see in extremely limited numbers, perhaps on a customer indent-only basis because it is likely to be at that upper end price point.

“But if it was one of those cars that was out in 18 months to two years’ time, it could very well be that we have GT models in all of our variants and therefore the brand will be seen as being much more oriented toward sport so it (R-HYbrid) could be of use.”

He’s heartened that some Kiwi Peugeot owners are already asking “if and when.”

“We’ve already had feedback from people saying they would love to see it here, which is great.”

Shown at last year’s Frankfurt motor show, the monster machine is loosely based around the 308 R Concept first showcased in 2014 and, according, to overseas press, is set to be green-lighted for production later this year.

Amongst evidence: Images tweeted by Peugeot CEO Maxime Picat of PSA boss Carlos Tavares trying a test mule. An avowed revhead, Tavares is credited with the 308 GTi programme getting the green light.

The car is a huge step up from the $58,990 five-door hot hatch GTi edition that Peugeot NZ has just launched this week.

The standout styling will turn heads but the powertrain is the big story. It’s a combination of the 200kW 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo sited in the GTi with two 85kW electric motors bolted to each axle. Peugeot claims the result is 0-100kmh in 4.0 seconds – a clear two seconds quicker to the highway limit than the GTi - and an electronically limited top speed of 250kmh.

Like the GTi, the R HYbrid is out of the Peugeot Sport skunkworks, which has widened the front and rear tracks by 80mm, added beefier brakes and converted the 308 into all-wheel drive.

Four driving modes made up of ZEV, Road, Track and Hot Lap, serve up varying degrees of performance. In its most extreme setting, the car develops the full claimed power output and 730Nm of torque.

Also supporting the car’s sales potential is that PSA has already made clear that plug-in hybrids are to appear across the Peugeot, Citroen and DS lines. It has already showcased the technology in Peugeot’s now retired 908 World Endurance Championships sports car.

“With our experience in hybrid vehicles developed with the Peugeot 908, the high-performance hybrid powertrain fitted to the 308 gives a glimpse of the potential for ultra-sports models in the future” Peugeot Sport director Bruno Famin told media at Frankfurt.

Also, PSA has made clear that Peugeot has been picked to have an even sportier future going forward, though that doesn’t inhibit plans to also develop a more defined sports utility presence.