By Ronan Glon
Saturday, May 5th, 2012 @ 3:00 pm
 
Peugeot's motorsports department has been building race-bound variants of the brand's 200-series hatchbacks since the 205 was launched in 1983. These versions have rarely been publicized but they have been fairly successful in all kinds of racing events around Europe.

For the last few months Peugeot's unofficial motto has been "the 207 is dead, long live the 208!" Staying in line with that phrase, the automaker has just revealed the all-new race-bound version of the 208, dubbed the 208 R2.

The 208 R2 tips the scale at 2,270 pounds, which makes it almost 90 pounds lighter than the 207-based model it is replacing. 64% of that mass is on the front and 36% rests on the rear. The chassis has been reinforced and the car's underbody is fully protected by steel shielding.

The interior features a multipoint roll cage that has been approved by the FIA and a pair of Sparco bucket seats. The 208's instrument cluster has been replaced by a digital screen mounted behind the steering wheel.

Under the hood is a gasoline-burning normally-aspirated 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. It is derived from the 1.6 VTi unit that is available in the standard 208, but it features specific pistons, connecting rods and camshafts. It makes 185 horsepower at 7,800 rpms.

Power is sent to the front wheels via a five-speed sequential manual gearbox with the shifter mounted on the steering column. The drivetrain is also equipped with a limited slip differential.

The 208 R2 will debut in a little less than week as the pace car of the Tour de Corse that will take place on the scenic French island of Corsica. It will be driven by St├ęphane Sarrazin and Benjamin Veillas.

Buyers will have to wait until November of this year to get their hands on the R2. In kit form it will retail for €37,500 ($49,245) while a fully-assembled model will cost €57,500 ($75,509).

The R2 is the first of three race-bound 208s that Peugeot plans on launching before the end of the year. The next model will be a track-bound variant of the R2 and the final model will be an R5-spec version that was designed to compete in international rallies.