Peugeot 308 R HYbrid review

Peugeot's 308 R HYbrid concept feels almost production ready but should Peugeot build it?

A mere concept it may be for the time being, but the 308 R HYbrid feels almost production ready on this evidence. Peugeot Sport says it is waiting to judge the reaction to the car from the world’s press before making any further decisions, and the reaction from Auto Express is; build it. Having put this much time, money and engineering effort into the project so far, and made this much progress, Peugeot would be mad NOT to build this car.

So what’s not to like about the following set of headline re-writing credentials; 500bhp, 730Nm of torque, four wheel-drive, 1550kg, 94.1mpg and 70g/km, all wrapped up within the entirely practical skin of what appears to be a mildly breathed upon Peugeot 308 GTi?

Answer; you can’t actually buy this car yet. Indeed, unless the engineers at Peugeot Sport persuade their bosses to turn the 308 R HYbrid Concept into a production reality, you might never be able to drive this incredible car.

Best hot hatchbacks to buy now

But having now driven the 308 R HYbrid, and driven it properly at a track for one full morning with none of the usual “please can you only do 40mph in it because it’s a concept car and we’ve only got one them” restrictions, I can tell you one thing without hesitation; Peugeot should build this car, and build it soon.

The 308 R HYbrid is a potential game-changer if ever there was one. Considering the cars it would be look to compete with – everything from a Honda Civic Type R up to and beyond the forthcoming new Ford Focus RS and Audi’s RS3 – that means it has the potential to be more than just very good. On this evidence, it could even be the car to finally pick up where the 205 GTi left off for Peugeot all those years ago. That’s how significant the 308 R Hybrid COULD be – if the bosses at Peugeot decide to make it.

Powered by a mixture of 1.6-litre petrol turbo engine and two electric motors – one at the front axle, another at the rear – the 308 R HYbrid has been in development for the lat year and a half at Peugeot Sport. It could well herald a new era at Peugeot, not to mention a new direction for the hot hatchback in general.

There are three different driving modes in the car; full electric (known as ZEV), hybrid, and hybrid sport. In full electric mode you are propelled by two 85kw electric motors, each boasting 115bhp. You can do up to 60mph in full electric mode before the 1.6-litre petrol engines comes alive, and at that point you have 270bhp and 330Nm beneath your right foot, about the same as the regular 308 GTi by Peugeot Sport, in other words.

In hybrid mode, however, the electric motors are also used to fill in the gaps between gear changes, and during those brief moments when the petrol turbo engine is off boost. So in hybrid mode the car feels a bit like it’s powered by an atmospheric 3.0-litre V6, with zero lag, a fast but still slightly clumsy shifting six-speed auto gearbox and absolutely no let up in its acceleration between gear changes.

But the moment you press the hybrid sport button on the steering wheel, you get the full benefits of all three motors (one petrol, two electric) and 400bhp to play with. And in launch mode that gives you 500bhp and a faintly astonishing 730Nm until you back away from the throttle, at which point the engine reverts to a mere 400bhp. In hybrid sport mode the R HYbrid transforms from feeling like an unusually torquey hot hatch into something altogether more incredible, and a whole lot more ridiculous in terms of pure, straight line acceleration.

Peugeot Sport claims a 0-62mph time of “less than 4.0sec” with a standing 400m time of 12.2sec, and a standing kilometre time of 22.5sec. Top speed is restricted to 155mph, but in practice the 308 R HYbrid feels a fair bit quicker than even these numbers would suggest. The instant response to the throttle courtesy of the electric motors is fantastic, at any revs, and seemingly in any gear; you always get the same immediate hit of energy – and therefore acceleration – no matter what gear you are in. And it’s a unique experience in a hot hatch.

Ultimately this car is all about its powertrain, obviously, but at the same time Peugeot Sport has worked equally as hard – and seemingly done just as good a job – on making the chassis match up to the power and torque. The handling, steering and even the ride of the 308 R HYbrid feel sharp, tidy, polished, composed. The car feels ready to go on sale, in a nutshell, and that’s just what Peugeot should do – before someone else gets there first and steals their thunder.

Most Popular

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra teased for the first time
Vauxhall Astra teaser 1
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra teased for the first time

The new Vauxhall Astra will get electrified powertrains and a more premium image
8 Jun 2021
'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'
Toyota Mirai opinion
Opinion

'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'

Mike Rutherford says hydrogen-powered cars could still be a frequent sight on UK roads
13 Jun 2021
��Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'
Gearknob
Opinion

��Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'

Want to drive a manual car? You need to take your test in a manual car. So what happens once all driving-school cars are automatic EVs?
8 Jun 2021
'Factories are at a standstill because they can’t get the parts to finish cars'
Car manufacturing
Opinion

'Factories are at a standstill because they can’t get the parts to finish cars'

Steve Fowler points out the fresh issues facing global car manufacturing
9 Jun 2021
New Porsche Macan facelift prototype review
Porsche Macan prototype - front
Porsche Macan

New Porsche Macan facelift prototype review

We get behind the wheel of a prototype version of the facelifted Porsche Macan SUV
13 Jun 2021
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300
Car group tests

Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300

The capable Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport goes up against its new Cupra Leon 300 sibling in this hot hatch battle
12 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
New Vauxhall Astra prototype review
Vauxhall Astra prototype - front
Vauxhall Astra

New Vauxhall Astra prototype review

A new Vauxhall Astra is on the way and we've driven a prototype ahead of its official arrival
14 Jun 2021
New 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid launched with 1,006bhp
Tesla Model S facelift - front
Tesla Model S

New 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid launched with 1,006bhp

Range-topping version of the Tesla Model S officially unveiled, with a sprint time of 0-60mph in less than two seconds
10 Jun 2021
New 2021 Volkswagen T7 Multivan replaces Caravelle
Volkswagen T7 Multivan - front
Volkswagen Caravelle

New 2021 Volkswagen T7 Multivan replaces Caravelle

The Volkswagen T7 Multivan MPV switches to the MQB platform and adds plug-in hybrid technology
10 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021
New 2021 Lexus NX arrives with firm’s first plug-in hybrid drivetrain
Lexus NX - front action
Lexus NX SUV

New 2021 Lexus NX arrives with firm’s first plug-in hybrid drivetrain

The new Lexus NX 350h features a standard hybrid set-up, while the NX 450h+ gets a plug-in hybrid powertrain capable of 40 miles of pure electric powe…
12 Jun 2021
'GM taking over Honda would be a disaster'
Honda opinion
Opinion

'GM taking over Honda would be a disaster'

Mike Rutherford is worried about Honda's future, despite its recent motorsport success
6 Jun 2021
Audi updates line-up for 2022 with new tech and trim features
Audi S5
Audi

Audi updates line-up for 2022 with new tech and trim features

Almost every car in Audi’s line-up has received a tweak, with major updates including Amazon Alexa integration and a Sonos stereo
11 Jun 2021