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308 R to rip through GTi rivals

Four-pot screamer: Peugeot aims to shoehorn the turbocharged 1.6-litre engine from the RCZ R under the 308’s bonnet.

Peugeot to bring RCZ R oomph to next-gen small-car flagship

7 Mar 2013


PEUGEOT is set to shoehorn RCZ R power into its all-new, lighter, and much better looking next-generation small car.

Tipped to be called either the 308 R or GTi R, the most powerful hatch in the company’s 131-year history is expected to be unveiled some months after the regular model makes its Frankfurt motor show appearance in September, with sales slated to start either late in 2014 or by early 2015.

Driving the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox, the engine is a variation of a 1.6-litre THP 260 (as in brake horsepower) four-cylinder turbo unit co-developed with BMW, using advanced variable valve timing and twin-scroll turbocharger technology to pump out about 194kW of power.

That figure is about lineball with the Megane RS 265, and better than the 188kW provided for by the all-wheel-drive Golf R – although both of these use a larger 2.0-litre engine capacity.

Unveiled at the Paris motor show last September and due out later this year, Peugeot declared 160bhp-per-litre power output of the RCZ R as among the highest in the world for a production vehicle.

It also highlighted the engine’s efficiency by revealing carbon dioxide emissions are rated at 155 grams per kilometre – a very good figure for what is, after all, a performance car.

Whether the 308 R receives the RCZ R’s Torsen limited slip differential to help tame front-wheel traction is not known, but probably very likely, as are the latter’s lower ride height, stiffer suspension, and wider track and rubber compared to the standard car.

In contrast, the existing 308 GTi sold abroad delivers 147kW from its 1.6-litre THP 150 engine, for a 7.7-second 0-100km/h sprint-time.

As with all next-generation 308s, the R will benefit from the 100kg-plus weight loss regime that will make the vehicle is lighter and more fuel-efficient, as well as more agile and fun to drive than any of its GTi or S16 predecessors.

“It will be more than 100 kilograms lighter,” PSA Peugeot product chief Alexandre Cazeaux told GoAuto in Geneva this week.

The new modular platform was 70kg lighter than the existing 308’s, he said, making it a great start for the company to reclaim the performance hatch crown it had lost to rivals such as the Golf GTI, Focus ST, and Megane RenaultSport 265.

“It is a very new platform with no compromises,” Mr Cazeaux said.

Conversely, the focussed weight loss program means that Peugeot’s lauded 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine family is also a viable proposition behind the new 308’s snout, in both naturally aspirated and as-yet unannounced turbo guises.

Unlike with the Golf, there will be no dual-clutch transmission offered in any new 308 variant including the R, with Mr Cazeaux firm in his belief that most performance drivers prefer the pleasure and interactivity of a manual gearbox.

“I think the most (suitable) gearbox for this kind of car is the manual gearbox,” he said.

Stylistically, the second-generation 308 will adopt the well-received 208’s softer frontal treatment, married to a more angular silhouette likened by one person to the latest Audi A3 Sportback.

Speculation is rife that R may become a sub-brand for all future Peugeot high-performance variants, and may find its way on a GTi-topping 208.

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