A Feline Lunging Into The Future, The Lean And Mean Peugeot 9X8 Hybrid Hypercar

Afiq Saha | 13-03-2022 11:00 AM

Lean, sleek and embodies speed, much more than a racing car, it’s an iconic object, an aesthetic and technical revolution, the Peugeot 9X8 is an ultimate design adventure.

The Peugeot Design team went all out to create the new 9X8 Hybrid Hypercar, they manifested it with all the contemporary aesthetic codes specific to the marque.

A feline stance, fluid lines enhanced by signs of sportiness, sleek and structured flanks and, the characteristic three-clawed luminous signature of the Lion. 

Peugeot’s design director, Matthias Hossann, expressed, “The level of discussion was absolutely unprecedented. We were in contact with the Peugeot Sport team, and really did work hand-in-hand with them. To identify the theme for our future racing car, we first launched a competition between the designers. We received a lot of submissions as this project aroused massive enthusiasm, with the prospect of one day seeing our creation compete against the world's most prestigious brands on the most mythical of tracks.”

Significantly, for the Peugeot 9X8 Hybrid Hypercar, engineers and designers worked very closely together to achieve a convergence between style and technology to create a competition vehicle. 

This brand-new generation of competition car is due to make its debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) this year.

Hossann explained, “Once the theme had been selected with the help of the Peugeot Sport engineers, we set to work together. Guided by performance, for which no compromise was ever made, and under innovative regulations, the engineers left as much room as possible to allow the designers freedom of creativity to develop the Hypercar’s design. The Peugeot 9X8 was born along with the DNA of the new Hypercar regulations (LMH) wanted by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the organiser of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Fédération internationale de l’Automobile. Presenting the fundamental traits of a Peugeot, this car will stand as a milestone in the history of endurance racing.”

An ultimate emissary of Peugeot Design and an inspiration for future growths, the 9X8 Hybrid Hypercar sits within the trend set for the cars in the range, including the all-new Peugeot 308. 

Notably, it was the Peugeot 9X8 that first adorned the new Lion head badge introduced in early 2021 before it also appeared on the Peugeot 308.

“I had put the word Iconic in everyone’s mind, because I wanted a car that was both immediately recognisable and that marked a breakthrough, a fundamental generational shift,” uttered Hossann.

On that note, the distinctive sign of Peugeot's expertise and style is apparent in the 9X8's cabin which is based on the marque's characteristic i-Cockpit concept. 

Most importantly, the entire Peugeot 9X8 cockpit was designed to provide the highest degree of ergonomics and intuitiveness for drivers.

“The technology of the Peugeot 9X8 is entirely a Peugeot Sport creation, and we had to show that in our design. Without any compromise on performance, we wanted to give it a unique attitude but keep the idea of a streamlined body, which contrasts with the very geometric endurance cars of the previous generation,” added Hossann.

Just as for a series model project, the care taken with the interior design was matched only by the demanding level of requirement for the exterior. 

Interestingly, the most prominent exterior feature of this concept is the absence of a rear wing, which gives it its unique morphology.

At which, following the original sketch of a somewhat lunging car, a slightly pointed cabin appeared, along with the very particular wrap that we see today over the rear wheel.

Hossann furthered, “Despite the quality of the many proposals that came out of our internal design competition, one was quickly established as the chosen theme. It broke the codes of the previous generation of endurance cars. The idea theorized that this would be less of a race car and more of a Peugeot, an object that would bring together fans of motorsport but not only, as this would be a sports car that could in theory be driven on the road as well as the race track.”

Looking back, Peugeot has already won at Le Mans with two cars of two different generations, the 905 with a V10 petrol engine in 1992 and 1993, and the 908 with a V12 HDi-FAP engine in 2009. 

Now, once again, it is with the technology and ingenuity used that the Peugeot 9X8 Hybrid Hypercar marks the beginning of a new era. 

“Endurance racing is based on rules that allow us to demonstrate Peugeot's expertise across all electric power trains. With the 9X8, Peugeot is starting a new chapter in hybrid sports cars, where performance is becoming more electric and more virtuous, without sacrificing anything in terms of competitiveness,” remarked Peugeot 9X8 Hybrid Hypercar’s project technical director, Olivier Jansonnie.

Performance-wise, for its four-wheel drive hybrid propulsion, the Peugeot 9X8 has certain similarities with several models in the Peugeot range, e.g., the Peugeot 3008 or the Peugeot 508. 

Outstandingly, it combines a V6 2.6-litre twin-turbocharged 500 kW (680 HP) internal combustion engine at the rear with a 200 kW (270 HP) electric motor and generator in the front.

“We wanted to signify this technological and cultural shift with a new colour signature, which we have called Kryptonite. We had already launched it shortly before our Hybrid Hypercar 9X8 on our new series model, also a hybrid, the 508 PSE (Peugeot Sport Engineering). It shares many technology features with the Peugeot 9X8, in addition to its colour. Within a few weeks of each other, both have brought the Peugeot brand into the era of electric high-performance,” said Hossann.

Other than that, Peugeot has ensured that the 9X8 Hybrid Hypercar is unlike any other car and can be easily identified day and night by everyone on the track, Le Mans in particular.

Primarily because, the design team knows that at night, trackside, the competition cars have few distinctive features to make it a standout among the rest. 

Regardless of some cars being recognisable by the sound of their engines, the cars’ visual presence is mostly limited to bright lines fading away into the background. 

Hence, to make it Le Mans worthy, the team added luminous components to their work on the 9X8’s silhouette, mainly on its front and back.

For the light signature, the three claws, present on all of Peugeot’s current production cars, was the obvious choice. 

However, fitting them on the front of the 9X8 Hybrid Hypercar wasn’t much of a hassle, but putting them on the rear required a lot of work. 

Therefore, they have integrated the three light claws in separate composite components creating gaps through which air is extracted.

Overall, with the bright illumination of the headlights combined with the powerful pattern of the car's light claws, the team have created a masterpiece.

In short, the contrast between the very pure aesthetics of the Peugeot 9X8 Hybrid Hypercar and its brutalist architecture is absolutely impressive.

That said, each year, the Grands Prix du Festival Automobile International rewards the most beautiful achievements in the automotive field. 

As such, since its reveal in July 2021, the Peugeot 9X8 has won the ‘Grand Prize for the most beautiful Hypercar of the year’ at the 37th Festival Automobile International.

Hossann concluded, "I am very proud to win this prize, which is an acknowledgement of the Design and Peugeot Sport teams’ effort, who worked together on this project, the quality of the exchanges with the Peugeot Sport team was exceptional, both on a technical and human level.” 

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