Auto blogMon, 26 Aug 2013 18:30:00 EST
You can't leave a team of racing engineers sitting still for too long. They need something to keep them busy. Just ask the guys at Toyota or Peugeot.
Toyota shut down its Formula One program in 2009 and didn't get to Le Mans until last year, filling the vacuum left by Peugeot's departure at the end of the previous season. In the meantime, the engineers at Toyota Motorsport GmbH developed the TMG Sports 650. Peugeot Sport had a similar lull after shuttering its LMP1 program before it launched Sebastien Loeb's 208 T16 Pikes Peak challenger this summer. This is what they were working on in the meantime.
It's called the Peugeot 208 Hybrid FE, and it's set to debut next month at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Working in partnership with French oil company Total, the Peugeot racing team applied many of the lessons it learned from developing the 908 HDi FAP prototype to a base Peugeot 208 Access.
Peugeot is getting serious about upping its performance game. After posing the only serious threat to Audi at Le Mans and smashing the record at Pikes Peak, the French automaker brought some of that performance to the road with the debut of the RCZ R at Goodwood earlier this summer, and is now apparently ready to unveil a new hot hatch concept at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show.
What we have here is the 308 R Concept, a hot hatch show car that's based on (and will debut alongside) the new 308 hatchback. It's got a dropped suspension, amped-up aero kit, 19-inch wheels, upgraded brakes and a two-tone gloss red and matte black paint job. In fact, all the bodywork has been replaced except for the roof and tailgate.
Powering the devilish ride is the same 1.6-liter turbo four as you'll find in the aforementioned RCZ R - all 270 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of it, twisting the front wheels through a six-speed manual and Torsen limited-slip differential. Peugeot isn't saying how rapid it expects the concept to be, but its stats put it in league with the Ford Focus ST and outgoing Volkswagen Golf R, so we'd expect a 0-60 time of about six seconds and a top speed that would likely be limited to 155 mph. Scope out the details in the press release below.
The five-door version of the next-generation Toyota Aygo, a Euro offering cloned by the Peugeot 107 and Citroën C1, has been caught out on the town wearing all black. Facelifted early last year, predictions are that the next version of the city car will be slightly lower and wider than the current car, with improved ergonomics and materials. Based on what little can be seen for now, a new intake and headlight treatment should be on the menu in front, with taillights placed higher on its backside.
A three-door version is expected, but a gasoline-hybrid model is also rumored, along with power and fuel economy improvements to the three-cylinder engine that presently puts out 67 horsepower and 69 pound-feet of torque.
We should see it next year, along with the new Citroën C1 and Peugeot 108.
PSA Peugeot-Citroën has been struggling to offer low finance rates to customers since its banking arm, Banque PSA Finance, had its credit score downgraded, which in turn has made it hard for the French carmaker to compete with brands that offer lower finance rates, such as Volkswagen. The French government recognized the catch-22 and, after negotiations with PSA and European Union approval, has guaranteed the banking arm seven billion euro in bonds to secure its debt and lower borrowing costs, Automotive News reports. The infusion of bonds will be spread from January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2016.
As part of the requirements for EU approval, PSA agreed to refrain from acquisitions in excess of 100 million euro per year and curb its debt levels, Automotive News reports. The EU Comission was required to approve the bond infusion before it could take place in an effort to reduce to a minimum "the damaging effects for competitors who have not received support from public funding," said Joaquin Almunia, EU Competition Commissioner.
In addition to the bonds for Banque PSA, a diesel-hybrid program will also receive 86 million euro from the French government, which was also approved by the EU Commission.
Highlights from the Goodwood Festival of Speed, including the McLaren P1 and a Ford Transit running the hillMon, 15 Jul 2013 19:01:00 EST
The sole purpose of this post is as a time-waster, and since you shouldn't have to work to waste time, we've done it for you. In the numerous videos below you'll find cars that have lately been in the news tramping all over the grounds of Lord March's estate in Goodwood, England.
There's the McLaren P1 heading up the hill, the Jaguar Project 7, then a casually-driven Porsche 917 followed by an even-more-casually-driven Porsche 956, topped off by a Porsche 936 that is anything but casually driven. The next round is the flame-spitting Peugeot 405 T16 Pikes Peak from Climb Dance, a camera mounted on the Peugeot RCZ R after it showing you what the whole, uninterrupted run up the hill looks like. For a real head-turner, we couldn't embed it but there's Andy Reid blasting up the hill in a Ford Transit Supervan with a Cosworth 3000 V6 engine.
The modern racing contingent has Allan McNish doing the hill in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro he used to win Le Mans and Lewis Hamilton making lots of tire smoke in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas MGP-W02. For comparison, that's followed by Nick Heidfeld's record-setting run up the hill in 1999 in the McLaren MP4/14 . The classic racing contingent is headlined by 71-year-old Giacomo Agostini on an MV Agusta.
Peugeot will use this weekend's Goodwood Festival of Speed to unveil the most powerful production car in its 100-plus-year history - the RCZ R.
The RCZ R uses a new version of the 1.6-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder found in the standard RCZ. Given the sexy name of EP6CDTR, it sports a beefier twin-scroll turbocharger, as well as a racing-derived steel exhaust manifold. Forged pistons from Mahle Motorsports help tweak the RCZ R's compression ratio to 9.2:1, while the con rods and their bearings have been strengthened for greater durability.
The results speak for themselves. The 1.6-liter turbo four has jumped from 197 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque to 270 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque. Moreover, peak twist is available from 1,900 to 5,500 rpm. Taken as a whole, the RCZ R can hit 60 miles per hour in just 5.9 seconds, a 1.6-second improvement over the standard car. The top speed, meanwhile, has jumped to an electronically limited 155 mph. Adding to the sporty sensations of the new motor is Peugeot's Sound System, which basically pipes intake noise into the cabin, not unlike the Sound Symposer in the 2013 Ford Focus ST or similar technology in the Mazda MX-5 Miata.
According to a report by France's La Tribune cited by Reuters, General Motors and Peugeot are discussing the possibility of selling PSA Peugeot-Citroën commercial vans in the US through The General's dealership network. While specific models and what brand they may sell under stateside are not immediately clear, the move isn't entirely out of the blue, particularly since GM owns seven percent of the French automaker.
Peugeot and GM already have a joint-venture agreement to ease costs associated with vehicle development and procuring parts, and while the progress of the arrangement has been inhibited some by Europe's difficult economy, the two automakers are looking to expand the relationship. With sales in the dumpster, Peugeot's long-term prospects have looked particularly shaky as of late, and GM could use a modern commercial van lineup to better compete with North America's suddenly modern and Euro-fied competition. Mercedes-Benz kicked off the high-roof trend with its Sprinter, and for 2014, Ford is following with its Transit van (joining its smaller Transit Connect sibling), while Chrysler is leveraging its relationship with Fiat to rebrand the Ducato range of vans as Ram Promaster models.
Peugeot already has a full line of commercial van solutions in its stable, from its compact Partner and Bipper models to the larger Expert and Boxer models, which are available in a variety of cargo and people-carrying configurations.
It's easy to gloss over the new Pikes Peak hill climb record as just another number. After all, we can say Sebastien Loeb did the deed a full minute and a half quicker than anyone else in the history of the race, but the words fail to convey the lunacy and sheer speed of the feat, even bearing in mind that the mountain is now fully paved. To fully grasp the weight of the new record, you have experience the ride from Loeb's point of view. Fortunately for us, Red Bull has been kind enough to release a new video of the record-setting 8:13.878 run shot entirely in-car.
The clip switches between a spoiler-level shot and the view from inside the cockpit, and while the sheer speed is surprising, it's the complete lack of drama on Loeb's part that's the real shocker. The guy looks like he's fetching milk from the market, not destroying reconstructing the definition of what "fast" means when applied to Pikes Peak. Watch the clip below for yourself. If you'll excuse us, we're going to hit the replay button, crank the volume and do our best not to get our faces melted off. We've also thrown in a second behind-the scenes video for your enjoyment as well.
The 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is in the books, and so are a lot of new records. It was a 16-hour workday for drivers and spectators, and we spent almost 12 of that at 14,110 feet trying to stay hydrated and sane. The biggest news has already made it around the world, that being Sébastien Loeb's run of 8:13, one most people are convinced will stand for some time unless another manufacturer wants to shower money on the mountain.
As always, however, a million other things took place on that sliver of road named for Lt. Zebulon Pike. For the complete race results you can still catch the live timing info here. For our report on the day, read on...
The teams have all set up their pits and paddocks for today's run of the 91st Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and there's nothing left to do but take a shot at the title. At 8 am Mountain time (9 am EST / 7 am PST), the first of a field of 83 bikes and 63 cars - whittled from an original field of 157 - will race 12.42 miles through 156 turns from the start gate at 9,390 feet to the summit finish at 14,110 feet. The summit is where we'll be all day, having arrived on the media bus at around 5 am and not allowed to come down until the race is finished. If it's anything like last year that could mean a 14-hour day on the top munching on donuts at the summit café, begging for hits of pure oxygen and trying to stay hydrated and warm...
Here are the event with Hyundai, we enjoyed dinner with Rhys Millen got his take on what's happened and what's about to happen. Millen said the issue that caused his engine swap last week was minor, a head gasket (a production part) that was causing a bit of hesitation and a slight drop in top speed. He said it's the first time they've stressed the engines this hard, pushing boost pressures up to 19 psi at altitude, which equates to 25 psi at sea level. Offering testament to the strength of the engines, though, he said that Paul Dallenbach's engine did the entire 2012 drift season as well as Pikes Peak, and it's the engine being used again for the hill climb this year.
We also chatted with Dallenbach, who has come back from that beastly crash last year in the Unlimited category to lead almost every practice day this year in the Time Attack class. Telling us he's happier behind the wheel this year than he has been in 20 years, he asked us, "Know what my dashboard says when I turn the car on? 'Donuts at 14,000 feet.'"