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Peugeot 908 RC concept (2006): first official pictures

Published: 11 August 2006

The lowdown

Jaw-dropping luxury car design and a high-tech racing chassis collide in the 908 RC, Peugeot's showpiece concept for the upcoming Paris motor show. Part-limousine, part-Le Mans racer, the 186mph 908 is sure to be one of the most fascinating vehicles at Peugeot's hometown show in September. The four-door, four-seat limousine has an unusual layout reminiscent of the Ferrari Mondial, with an engine mounted behind the back seats. The 908's rear end is highly significant, because its 700bhp V12 diesel engine and the rear subframe supporting it will be adopted by Peugeot's 2007 Le Mans race car. And the highlights don't end there. The design also gives a sneak preview of Peugeot’s forthcoming executive car, the 608.

Part luxury limousine…

The imposing 908 RC is as long as a Mercedes S-class, but its proportions are far less conventional. Big Peugeots are typically blighted by long front overhangs, but the designers have cut this back by rear-mounting the transverse engine and transmission. The windscreen is drawn forward, and it arcs back over the front seats to create a vast glass bubble encircling the passenger cell. The wheelbase is a whopping 3150mm-long, up there with a stretched S-class's, creating plenty of room for four in individual leather buckets. Luggage can be stored in the nose as well as a boot behind the engine.

…part Le Mans racer

Those limousine looks are deceptive, however. Under the skin, the 908 RC shares much with Peugeot's contender for the 2007 Le Mans 24 Heures crown. The chassis is a mix of carbon composite and aluminium, to create an ultra-light, ultra-stiff platform suitable for endurance racing. The body is suspended via double wishbones front and rear. Hidden behind those ornate alloys are race-bred carbon composite brake discs, chosen for their light weight and ability to resist fade. The rims, clad in Michelin Pilot Sport rubber, measure 20 inches up front, 21 at the rear.

V12 diesel to take on Audi

Audi won the 2006 Le Mans race with the R10, its V12 diesel racer. In 2007, it will have a Peugeot to contend with, running this twin-turbocharged V12 diesel. Peugeot claims the 5.5-litre unit is already kicking out more than 700bhp, at least 50bhp up on the triumphant Audi. Peak power is backed up by a gargantuan 885lb ft of torque. All this grunt is chanelled to the rear wheels via a six-speed sequential gearbox, mounted beneath the engine. It's powerful but green, too, says Peugeot. Two particulate filters are fitted to the exhaust to capture soot emissions. And by opting for a more economical diesel racer, Peugeot will have to pull in for fewer pit-stops than petrol rivals – which proved a huge advantage for Audi this year.

The face of a lion

Peugeot's feline design theme is turned up to 11 with the 908 RC. The leading edge of the bonnet juts forward around a super-sized lion badge, inspired by a cat's nose and with the vents resembling its nostrils. And the LED headlamps are spookily reminiscent of cats' eyes, while Peugeot's trademark, wide grille is present and more pronounced than ever.

608 sneak preview

Expect the sculptured bonnet, headlamp shape and vents to influence the face of the 608 executive car, which arrives in 2008. Enlarged glass is also a given, although the 908's unusual, set-back pillars – designed to optimise visibility – may not make the cut.

Powerful rump

The powerful rear wheelarches resemble a crouching lion's hindquarters, and a cat's claw inspired the shape of that aluminium sliver in the rear lamp. Peugeot claims to have honed the 908's shape in the wind tunnel. The underbody diffuser – which sprouts four tailpipes – manages air flow, while a spoiler rises at speed to boost downforce. Rear vents feed air to the engine, and manage cooling.

In the front seats

The dashboard architecture gives strong hints to the 608's cabin. Today's Peugeots are the epitome of user-unfriendliness with their myriad buttons. The 908 RC's important audio, sat-nav and climate functions are controlled by the touch-screen area in the centre console. Hopefully, this will be replicated in the forthcoming executive car.

Powerful rump

The powerful rear wheelarches resemble a crouching lion's hindquarters, and a cat's claw inspired the shape of that aluminium sliver in the rear lamp. Peugeot claims to have honed the 908's shape in the wind tunnel. The underbody diffuser – which sprouts four tailpipes – manages air flow, while a spoiler rises at speed to boost downforce. Rear vents feed air to the engine, and manage cooling.

In the front seats

The dashboard architecture gives strong hints to the 608's cabin. Today's Peugeots are the epitome of user-unfriendliness with their myriad buttons. The 908 RC's important audio, sat-nav and climate functions are controlled by the touch-screen area in the centre console. Hopefully, this will be replicated in the forthcoming executive car.

By Phil McNamara

Editor-in-chief of CAR magazine

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