The strength of the BMW M4 Coupé is evident in every detail.
No sooner had Peugeot released its new 208 supermini at the end of 2011 than its the competition department got busy with not one but three high-performance versions.
The first is ready in time to serve as 'zero car' for this month's Tour de Corse in the hands of regular Peugeot Sport driver Stéphane Sarrazin and navigator Benjamin Veillas, who will drive the hot hatch ahead of the field before staying on in Corsica for a week of testing after the rally.
The 208 R2, an affordable entry-level rally and track day car, will be followed before the end of 2012 by a circuit version - with very similar mechanical specs to the R2 but specifically set up for tarmac racing - and the R5, a full-tilt boogie, all-wheel drive S2000 rally car that will replace the current S2000 207 car at national and international level, due to be unveiled in September.
The 208 R2 will replace the existing 207 RC Rallye, not only as star of the brand's 'Volant' single-make series, but also as a challenger for class success at national and international level, competing against R2-spec cars from Ford, Renault and Citroën.
It's also designed to make life easier for privateer owners by minimising the number of parts required to convert from gravel to asphalt-spec, using as many shared parts and assemblies as possible.
PUTTING THE CAR ON A DIET
R2 project leader Yann Goraguer said: “The 208's bodyshell is about 40kg lighter than that of the 207, while its long wheelbase ensures excellent stability. Then we put in a multi-point, welded roll cage that's a big step forward in terms of safety, thanks to a new manufacturing process.”
“More weight-saving work enabled us to lower the centre of gravity even further, centralise the weight and reduce the intrinsically low inertia of the car, to give it outstanding road holding.
“The 208 R2's engine is based on the 1.6 VTi road engine, with variable VVT timing and competition engine mapping delivering a quoted 136kW. It drives the front wheels through a five-speed manual-sequential gearbox with the lever mounted on the steering column.
“The gearshift system is the same as that on the 207 S2000 and represents a significant step up for a car of this class in which the street-type gearshift is usually mounted on the floor. The lever is much shorter and also positioned higher, while the shift is more direct and precise because it is in line with the gearbox.”
“We have carried over the proven three-way adjustable dampers, plus a new, adjustable hydraulic bump stop developed in association with Öhlins. The R2 also has a special wishbone arrangement that increases suspension travel and thus improves traction.
“We also switched from the standard car's electric power steering to a hydraulic system, combined with a higher-ratio hydraulic rack for greater precision and better feedback, in response to demand from the drivers.
“Finally, to simplify the ordering and management of parts and to help with the conversion from gravel to tarmac spec (and vice-versa), we have opted for single-piston Alcon callipers and re-machined standard discs - which means all you have to do to change from dirt to tar spec is to replace the calliper mounts, without disturbing the hydraulics.”
If you already have a 208, you can buy an R2 kit, including a dyno-tuned engine, in either gravel or tarmac spec, for €37 500 (R380 000) - or you can buy a ready-built R2 - in either spec - for €57 500 (R583 000) ex factory.
In either case, smaller kits will also be available to convert your R2 from gravel to tar spec - or the other way round.