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Peugeot 308 R concept tipped for production

Hot hatches are in high demand, and they include everything from warm hatchbacks with sporty details to boiling hot turbocharged terrors. Peugeot is ready to set the segment on fire with the 308 R – an even angrier 308 than the GTI hot hatch version currently being developed.

A senior Peugeot executive has told Top Gear UK that a 308 performance flagship close in specification to the 308 R concept was likely. "There is room for a 308 R that uses the same engine as the concept car at Frankfurt," Peugeot director general Maxime Picat said.

The concept car is powered by Peugeot’s 1.6-litre turbo, shared with the RCZ R sports coupe. It produces a staggering 200kW – one of the highest outputs per litre out of any engine in production. However torque in the concept car is down from the RCZ R’s 464Nm to 330Nm.

To achieve these figures, Peugeot has opted for a reinforced twin-scroll turbo, and uses an exhaust manifold that was designed to sustain more heat than is usually required. The engine itself has also been reinforced by a specific heat treatment that is claimed to increase durability.

Peugeot hopes this engine will help the 308 R pounce on its compatriot – the 198kW Renault Megane 265. Like the Renault, the 308 R Concept uses a six speed manual and a limited slip differential to deliver power through the front wheels.

It also has a wider track, harder and lower sports suspension and aerodynamic enhancements like the Renault. But unlike the Megane, the concept hatch uses extensive carbon fibre to shave off considerable weight. Only the roof and the bonnet are shared with the standard variety of 308 – although it’s yet to be seen how much of this carbon fibre makes it to production.

Peugeot’s R-rated 308 will have to attack other contenders too, like the 184kW Ford Focus ST, 190kW Mazda 3 MPS and the 195kW Subaru WRX, but will fall short of the WRX STI and Volkswagen’s own R-rated Golf, both of which have 221kW.

While the Subarus and Golf R have all wheel drive, the French hatch will seek to save weight instead, keeping its hard edged 308 front wheel drive only. This could help in achieving a 0-100km/h time of under six seconds, with a claimed fuel consumption of 6.3 litres per 100kms.

Meanwhile, the milder 308 GTI due early next year should pose some stiff competition to Volkswagen own GTI – the 162kW Golf. The 308 GTI will use the same 1.6-litre turbo engine as the 308 R, but detuned to around 147kW.