Observers and specialists are unanimous: the PEUGEOT 9X8 is a radical break with previous generations of racing cars. It opens a new era. “This 9X8 is a true milestone in motorsport,” said the future drivers when they first saw it: “There will be a before and after PEUGEOT 9X8, and we will be lucky to have been part of it.”
“On the walls of the design studio where the PEUGEOT 9X8 was born, we had posted three key words: iconic, efficient, emotional,” says Matthias Hossann. “This way, the whole team embraced these concepts, regardless of each individual’s involvement across the various development stages. 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.”
“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 posited was that this would be less of a race car and more of a PEUGEOT, an object that would bring together fans of motor sport 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.”
4. NO WING
The most striking feature of this concept, and one that for many sums it up, is the absence of a rear wing, which gives it its unique morphology.
The rear wing first appeared in endurance racing at Le Mans in 1967, and has since become the enduring standard. Since 1971, just over 50 years ago, no car has won without a rear wing. This shows the audacity and inventiveness of the PEUGEOT designers and engineers.
When the PEUGEOT 9X8 was created, a huge amount of effort was put into the rear end. 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
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. Once again, it is with the technology used that the PEUGEOT 9X8 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,” explains Olivier Jansonnie, Technical Director for the project.
For its four-wheel drive hybrid propulsion, the PEUGEOT 9X8 has certain similarities with several models in the PEUGEOT range, such as the PEUGEOT 3008 or the PEUGEOT 508. 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/generator in the front.
Olivier Jansonnie says, “With the 9X8, PEUGEOT is starting a new chapter in hybrid sports cars. Performance is becoming more electric and more virtuous, without sacrificing anything in terms of competitiveness.”
“We wanted to signify this technological and cultural shift with a new colour signature, which we have called Kryptonite,” adds Matthias Hossann. “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.”
The PEUGEOT Design team also called on leading-edge technology. “But not only,” explains Matthias Hossann. “The designers’ work involves toing and froing between deigns and 3D tools in order to include virtual reality visualisation phases”.
To create the volumes, the designers use 3D tools and CAD (Computer Aided Design). With this technology, it is also easy to share files with the engineering teams. Once the volumes are in place, then comes the virtual reality stage. Somewhat like a revelation.
“A high point was reached when we showed the complete PEUGEOT 9X8 to the engineering team using a virtual reality headset. Olivier Jansonnie, the Technical Director, circled the car for quite a while with the headset over his eyes. His enthusiasm was crucial”.
“Our PEUGEOT Design team includes fans of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Having been there as spectators, they know that at night, trackside, the cars have few distinctive signs. Some cars can be recognised by the sound of their engines, but in many places, the cars’ visual presence is mostly limited to bright lines fading away into the night.”
“To ensure that the PEUGEOT 9X8 is unlike any other and can be easily identified day and night by everyone, we added luminous components to our work on the silhouette. For the light signature, the three claws – present on all our current production cars – was the obvious choice. We didn’t have too much trouble putting them on the front of our 9X8 Hypercar, but putting them on the rear required a lot of work. We’ve integrated the three light claws in separate composite components creating gaps through which air is extracted. We can’t wait to see their effect on the track.”
As the photographer of this series of images of the PEUGEOT 9X8, Agnieszka Doroszewicz immediately recognised the potential of the PEUGEOT 9X8’s light signatures: “We really wanted to spread our shoot over a long day, and extend it late into the night”, she says. “I was able to achieve a perfect evocation of the Le Mans 24 Hours in my photos. Daylight, artificial lighting and the bright illumination of the headlights combine with the powerful pattern of the car’s light claws. Of course, we are not in Le Mans at all, but it is the whole atmosphere of Le Mans that we have here.”