Peugeot 308R Concept First Look

In North America, the hottest new Peugeot money can buy is a gourmet pepper grinder dressed in a bright red lacquer finish. In Europe, however, that’s hardly the case. Lest you think Volkswagen gets to hog the hot hatch spotlight at the 2013 Frankfurt motor show with its new Golf R, allow us to introduce you to the Peugeot 308R Concept, which has all the makings of a GTI or Focus ST rival – assuming, of course, it ever moves past the concept stage.

The 308R is obviously built from Peugeot’s C-segment 308 hatchback, which goes on sale in Europe later this year, but it shares less with the stock 308 than you’d think. According to Peugeot, only two body panels – the roof and the tailgate – are shared between the two models. Hood, bumper fascias, fenders, and door panels are all unique to the 308R and crafted from carbon fiber.

Peugeot’s quite proud of the new hood, which boasts a pair of heat extractors, along with the massive air intakes planted in the front fascia, but neither are the 308R’s most impressive visual cue. Stare at the concept directly from the nose or tail, and it’s clear the 308R is a girthy sucker – and far more so than the original hatchback. Peugeot notes the 308R’s track is an inch wider than a 308 and rides an inch lower, but rolls on massive 19-inch five-spoke aluminum wheels, which fill every available inch of the blistered wheel wells.

In case the slammed stance and flared fenders are a bit too subtle, Peugeot bathed the 308R in an odd fire red-over-graphite two-tone paint scheme. Vive la France.

Thankfully, the 308R packs power to match its visual sucker punch. For mechanical upgrades, Peugeot turned the car over to its PeugeotSport racing operation, which promptly raided the parts bins to add a bit more power. The 308R packs the same turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder as the two-seat RCZ R coupe. Thanks to some specialized tricks, including a heat-treated block and forged aluminum pistons, the engine produces 270 hp, along with 243 lb-ft; the latter is delivered between 1900 and 5500 rpm.

In case that doesn’t sound like much, allow us to remind you that the Ford Focus ST’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder yields 252 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque, while the next-generation Volkswagen GTI’s turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 produces as much as 220 hp and 258 lb-ft, assuming you opt for a performance package. If you like crunching data, the 308R’s specific output also works out to an impressive 170 hp per liter.

The 308R remains a front-wheel-drive affair, but a Torsen limited-slip differential is fitted to help negate both wheelspin and torque steer. The 308’s stock four-wheel disc brake system is upgraded with four-piston calipers at all four corners, along with 15 -inch front and 13-inch rear disc rotors.

Whether the Peugeot 308R transitions into a production model or remains a concept is a matter of debate. Its fortified four-banger is already in production, but its wild bodywork is likely too expensive for a vehicle in this price segment. We’d not be the least surprised to see a production 308R ditch the carbon fiber body panels but retain the 270-hp I-4, but no matter – seeing as Peugeot hasn’t sold an automobile on our continent in over 20 years, it won’t come stateside anytime soon.

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