Peugeot's shock entrant to the Shanghai Motor Show earlier this year, the 308 R HYbrid concept, will almost certainly enter production according to sources at the firm. It comes after Peugeot CEO Maxime Picat tweeted two images of PSA boss Carlos Tavarez trying a test mule of the 493bhp mega hatch, and now the car is on the stands at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show.
Speaking to us previously, senior company sources claim the car in those tweeted images was definitely a test mule of the R HYbrid. At a glance it looks like a standard 308 GTI with some light disguise, with little giveaway to the huge performance on offer.
In a previous conversation with Auto Express at the unveiling of the R HYbrid at the Shanghai Motor Show, Picat said: “We are quite well developed with the car and we’re now in the process of commercialising it.”
Assuming Peugeot can actually make the business case stack up, we could see the car on the road within the next two to three years, when the first plug-in hybrids will appear across the Peugeot, Citroen and DS families. There's no details yet as to how many of the petrol electric mega-hatch the firm plans to make.
The 308 GTI hot hatch has already been unveiled, and Picat will be positioning Peugeot alongside DS and Citroen, saying “Peugeot is the sporty one. Step by step you’ll see it. The GT-Line and GT models already account for 22% of 308 sales in Europe, then we’ll have another hot model and then maybe the Hybrid R.”
But although Peugeot has a sporty future, that doesn’t include the RCZ coupe. With both Peugeot and Citroen reducing the number of models it makes as part of parent company PSA boss Carlos Tavares’ ‘Back in the Race’ recovery plan, Picat told us that he plans to stick to Peugeot’s core models, with sporty derivatives of those. “In 2014, 13 silhouettes represented 95% of sales and 100% of profit," he said. "We will produce amazing cars like the 308, but no niche cars in the future, and yes, the RCZ is a niche car."
Image 2 of 14
Image 2 of 14
It’s not all about sports cars for Peugeot, though. Picat also confirmed that a new SUV is under development, alongside similar models for Citroen and DS. “We'll definitely have a larger SUV in the D segment by 2020," he told us.
Peugeot Sport has widened the front and rear tracks by 80mm, added beefier brakes and converted the 308 into all-wheel drive. The powertrain is a combination of the 267bhp 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo you’ll find in the RCZ R, with two 114bhp electric motors bolted to each axle. Peugeot claims the result is 0-62mph in 4.0 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.
Image 6 of 14
Four driving modes made up of ZEV, Road, Track and Hot Lap, serve up varying degrees of performance. In its most extreme setting, the 308 R HYbrid develops the full 493bhp and 730Nm of torque but thanks to the plug-in hybrid powertrain emits only 70g/km of CO2.
In terms of style, Peugeot has looked to another concept for design inspiration. The gaping 3D air intakes, angular bumpers and the two-tone bodywork has been borrowed from the Quartz SUV concept which also debuted at last year’s Paris Motor Show.
“With our experience in hybrid vehicles developed with the Peugeot 908, the high-performance hybrid powertrain fitted to the 308 gives a glimpse of the potential for ultra-sports models in the future” said Bruno Famin, Director at Peugeot Sport.
Check out our top 10 list of the best hot hatchbacks on sale now