With only a few months left until the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship season, manufacturers partaking in the competition have started revealing the cars they are fronting for the Championship.
Today, it’s Peugeot, the French company that once dominated the championship in the early 90s. The company just unveiled the Peugeot 9X8, a fiery hypercar that will represent the company in the LMH class.
A direct successor to the 1992 and 1993 Le Mans-winning Peugeot 905, and the 2009 French classic winning Peugeot 908, the car comes with a lot of weight on its shoulders, as it seeks to keep the French company relevant on the racing scene.
Peugeot says the “9X8” name draws inspiration from three things; First, the “9” pays tribute to both of the car’s championship-winning predecessors, which as you might have noticed, start with a “9” in their name. The X refers to both the car’s all-wheel-drive system and hybrid powertrain, a pair which the company says represents “its electrification strategy in the world of motor racing”. And, finally, Peugeot says the “8” was chosen to maintain consistency with the company’s naming scheme, as all its other offerings end with an 8. These include the Peugeot 208, 2008, 308, 3008, 508, and the 5008.
A hybrid, the 9X8 comes with a rear-mounted 2.6-liter bi-turbo V6 engine that produces just under 680hp (500kW). The engine works in conjunction with a front-mounted electric motor-generator that chips in with an additional 200kW which converts to about 272hp. Combined, the two produce an astounding 952hp. A seven-speed sequential gearbox handles gear shifting duties for the internal combustion engine while a single-speed reducer deals with the electric motor.
On the design front, the 9X8 is as breathtaking a racing car as you’ll see. That’s to be expected with models participating in the Hypercar class though. The FIA’s rules and regulations for the class are not as stringent as those in other classes.
As is Peugeot tradition, the company says that they focussed on designing a car that “portrayed a big cat ready to pounce”. While that might seem like an over-the-top description, it’s pretty apparent in the car’s design cues. Triple claw-like strokes that form the headlights and taillights draw inspiration from cats while huge backlit “lion’s head” logos stick out at the front and the sides. A forward-tilting cockpit is also meant to give the impression of, again, a cat ready to pounce!
The Peugeot 9X8’s paint job features “Selenium Grey” as the primary color, and is contrasted by “Kryptonite acid green/yellow”. This, the French company says, is the new color scheme for the company’s racing division; Peugeot Sport Engineered. A missing wing, sculpted wheels, and wing vents that reveal the top of the car’s tires complete the list of an otherwise stunning exterior design.
On the inside, the forward-tilted cockpit is the headline feature in an interior that the company says is meant to dispel the mantra that racing car interiors should only be purely functional and indistinctive. Awash with “Kryptonite acid green/yellow” components, the interior is a rather intriguing sight. Aside from the racing steering wheel, it all comes with a lot of Peugeot’s new i-cockpit interior styling.
Peugeot is participating in its first WEC season since 2012 and will be represented by six drivers including; Paul Di Resta, Loic Duval, and Mikkel Jensen. Two Peugeot 9X8s will take part in the 2022 WEC season.