Peugeot returns to the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 2022 with the 9X8, a hypercar with hybrid power and all-wheel drive. The French automaker says the car “showcases Peugeot’s Neo-Performance strategy which combines technology and sportiness in both road and race cars” and heralds “a new era in racing and a new era in race car design.”
Peugeot won at Le Mans in 1992 and 1993 with its 905 and in 2009 with the 908. The X in the 9X8 reflects the car’s all-wheel-drive and hybrid technologies.
The 9X8, the company says, combines “a premium sporting pedigree with styling excellence, efficiency and technological expertise that can be carried over to Peugeot’s road cars.”
“Since the 9X8 is a Peugeot, the original sketch that steered our work portrayed a big cat ready to pounce, a stance which we have suggested by the slightly forward-tilting cockpit,” Peugeot design director Matthias Hossann is quoted in the company’s news release. “The overall lines of the Peugeot 9X8 express the brand’s styling cues, while its sleek, racy, elegant forms inspire emotion and dynamism.
“Inside, we wanted to take a special approach to the cockpit which, until now, has tended to be a purely functional and indistinctive aspect of racing cars, with no brand identity whatsoever. The combination of our color scheme and Peugeot’s i-Cockpit interior styling signature have provided the 9X8’s cockpit with a distinctive feel and make it immediately identifiable as a Peugeot.”
Among the car’s most-distinctive design elements is its lack of a rear wing.
“We didn’t want a rear wing,” said Jean-Marc Finot, motorsport director for Stellantis, the corporate brand that includes Peugeot, Dodge and other brands. “The absence of a rear wing on the Peugeot 9X8 is a major innovative step. We have achieved a degree of aerodynamic efficiency that allows us to do away with this feature. Don’t ask how, though! We have every intention of keeping that a secret as long as we possibly can!”
Of the hybrid powertrain, Peugeot said it involved a rear-mounted 2.6-liter, bi-turbocharged V6 rated at 680 horsepower and a front-mounted 500-kilowatt electric motor; it has been on the test track since April.
“There’s more to Peugeot’s involvement in endurance racing than the sporting aspect,” added Linda Jackson, the company’s chief executive. “Endurance racing is a form of motorsport that provides us with an extreme laboratory, which explains why our association with Le Mans is so strong. More significant perhaps than the results we obtain on the racetrack are the opportunities it provides to prove our technology and the fruit of our research work in a race that throws extreme conditions at you for 24 hours.
“Le Mans gives us a competitive environment to validate the hybrid systems and technologies we are currently developing to reduce the fuel consumption – and therefore CO2 emissions – of our road cars. The teams at Peugeot Sport are proud when they see their research carried over to our production models. For our customers, Le Mans is a laboratory that testifies to the quality of our cars.”
The driving team for the 2-car effort for 2022 includes Paul DiResta of Scotland, Loic Duval and Jean-Eric Vergne of France, Mikkel Jensen and Kevin Magnussen of Denmark, Gustavo Menezes of the United States and James Rossiter of the UK.