Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Peugeot 208 Type R5: Peppy Le Peu

Unless you're a rally buff, you probably don't know that both sides of the PSA Peugeot-Citroën alliance have a rally programme. The Loeb-powered DS3 dominance in the World Rally Championship stops Citroën's Pug sisters from competing against them directly, but with the 207 they have been competing very successfully in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge - a version of the WRC for upcoming amateur drivers - and national championships that use the "Super 2000" rules it was designed for. With the 207 road car now being replaced by the 208, the rally cars needed updating as well, so here it is. My immediate thought is that all 208s should be sold with empty grilles like this test car has, because it gives it an expression like one of those spunky cartoon sidekicks like Scrappy Doo. Deliberately misspelt for mild punnery, it's Peppy Le Peu!!

Spurring on this happy chappy is a 1.6 turbo engine throwing 280bhp and 295lb/ft at all four wheels via a five-speed sequential gearbox. Lots of clever engineering has been done to reduce costs, not least the FIA-enforced maximum purchase price of €180,000. It's also cheaper to run than the 207 was, and its longer wheelbase combined with its shorter body will make it more stable and more agile, so says Peugeot. It also benefits from the 208's body being 40kg lighter than the 207's. That said there is a minimum weight in the new Group R's R5 category of 1200kg, reflecting that of WRC cars.

Giving you performance figures is pointless, partly because I don't think they've released any yet and also because it depends on the set up and surface. Racing cars come with adjustable gear ratios, of course, so it could be 2.5 seconds or it could be 5 seconds, although realistically I would think it's hovering around 3 to 3.5 seconds. The 208 R5 underwent shakedown testing recently at the hands of upcoming amateur driver and Irishman Craig Breen, who praised it for its brakes and gearbox, adding that the punchy torque delivery was "incredible". If that's enough to make you want to race one, you can get your chequebook in March.

Until then, enjoy this short teaser from Peugeot. Look how happy it is!! Listen to all those squirrelly noises when it's braking and the cheeky BRAAAAP when it's accelerating! Suits the looks perfectly:

If only the driver could see it while driving. That peppy, raring-to-go facial expression might spur them on to victory! You can see the 208 braaaaping and popping and squirrelling through rally stages in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, European Rally Championship and various national series as well. That's the joy of a customer racing car. You aren't limited to one series. You can race where you want (that allows it in the regs)! That's the Peppy Le Peu way!

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