Peugeot '308 R HYbrid' Concept: A Plug-In for the WRX Crowd

Written By: EightySix

Performance drivers shouldn't have to choose between electric and gasoline power. They should have it all and lots of it.

At the Shanghai Auto Show, Peugeot took its 308 R hot hatch concept to the PHEV level. Connecting a pair of electric motors to a 1.6 liter turbo-charged engine, Peugeot achieves 500 horsepower and 538 pound-feet of torque through all four wheels. It hits sixty in 4 seconds flat. Regenerative braking eases the car into corners while regaining energy for rocket-ship exits. The six-speed gearbox is controlled with steering wheel-mounted paddles.

A 3kWh lithium-ion battery is housed under the rear seats. Peugeot has not released electric range numbers yet, but it won't go more than a dozen or two miles with a pack that small. Still, you can get around town in ZEV mode, burning no gas on your daily errands. When the noisy tuner pulls up next to you at the light, revving and grinning, you can pop it into Hot Lap mode and blow his doors off.

The ordinary world is learning what Formula One drivers already know: getting the best of electric and gas results in furious performance.

Look Out Subaru

The 308 R PHEV is very reminiscent of a Subaru WRX STI. And not the stock 305 horse/290 torque version. It's like the coffee-can exhaust, mail-box hood-scoop, airplane-winged lunatic version some obsessed gear-head has dumped endless paychecks into. The one that sounds like a P51 Mustang at a red light. And yet the Peugeot's certainly faster and quieter.

Sport hatchbacks have become very popular cars, particularly with the youth. They're small enough to get good mileage and easily park. They're big enough to seat five cheerleaders or four football players with gear or sub-woofers in the back. Like your daddy's Chevelle, you can tinker with the power-train and exterior to make it your own expression.

This is the type of car that can make Americans want EVs and PHEVs. But it won't be sold in the States. No mention yet of when it will be available in Europe.

At the X Games, Please

The 308R PHEV needs to compete in the Rallycross and Gymkhana events at the X Games. Put this thing head-to-head against the best machines Ford, Subaru and the others can deliver. Then the world and all the creative young minds in it will know what hybrid cars can do.

The muscle car generation of the sixties learned how to get the best from carburetors and big displacement engines. Their kids maximized turbo-chargers, super-chargers, intakes and exhausts. The motor-heads of the future will understand battery technology, motor controllers, kinetic energy reclamation and gas/electric balancing.

At the moment, few car fanatics know their way around electric and hybrid cars. They stick to what they know. When cutting edge vehicles like the 308R PHEV are exposed to the public, demand will increase.

If Peugeot can't sell it here, someone must. A small turbo-charged gas engine with complementing plug-in power in an all-wheel drive hatchback will be a hit.