Peugeot is preparing to attack the Dakar rally with the newly enhanced 2008 DKR16, now bigger and more powerful than the front-wheel-drive diesel machine it replaces.
It would be all too easy to write off Peugeot Sport these days. The French automaker's competition division, once run by FIA president Jean Todt (before he was head of Ferrari), hasn't competed in Formula One in 14 years, in the World Rally Championship in nearly a decade, and shut down its Le Mans Prototype program – the only one to really challenge Audi in the modern era – two years ago.
Peugeot is no stranger to dirt-oriented motorsports, but with the 2008 DKR, the French automaker is striking out in a different direction than the rally stages of Europe. Instead, it has placed aim squarely on the notorious Dakar Rally, arguably one of the most grueling, demanding and dangerous (and longest) races on the planet.
The Mini All4 Racing team has dominated the Dakar Rally in recent years, with wins in 2012, 2013 and 2014. In this year's event, its drivers stood atop all three steps on the podium, and it had seven cars in the top ten. However, Mini's superiority is getting a big challenge in 2015 because Peugeot is returning to the rally with Red Bull as its sponsor. The team's weapon of choice is the new Peugeot 2008 DKR piloted by Dakar veterans Carlos Sainz and Cyril Despres.
Racing fans may have been disappointed when Peugeot shut down its Le Mans racing program, but don't think that the Lion marque has hung up its driving gloves for good. It's just refocusing itself. Instead of committing itself and its resources to a major circuit-bound racing series, Peugeot has been tackling one-off, off-road events. It took the record at Pikes Peak with Sebastien Loeb and is targeting the same at Goodwood. It recently released the new 208 T16 for privateer rally teams. And now
Peugeot's naming convention might not be all that exciting, but it does come up with some tantalizing vehicle designs. What we see here is the 2012 Peugeot 2008 Concept, which is going into production next year. The new subcompact crossover will slot below the Peugeot 3008 CUV.
The Peugeot Urban Crossover Concept (UCC) unveiled at the Beijing Motor Show earlier this year has morphed into the 2008 Concept that will be unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in a couple of weeks. Essentially a way for young urbanites to get the things they love about the 208 hatchback but with crossover height and functionality, the 2008 Concept is a thinly veiled preview of what we'll see next year when it goes into production.