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Peugeot's new 208 R2 'Little Sport' By Brian Foley

Peugeot Sport has revealed the new 208 R2, which will open the road for competing cars at Tour de Corse (May 10 - 12), the fourth round of the 2012 Intercontinental Rallye Challenge. Peugeot Sport driver Stephane Sarrazin and co-driver Benjamin Veillas will drive the hot hatch ahead of the field at the event before staying on in Corsica for a week of testing after the rally.

To comply with regulations, Peugeot Sport has fitted a brand new 1.6 litre 185bhp engine to the 208 R2. This new engine is based on the 1.6 VTi power unit that will be available on some versions of the new Peugeot 208, due for launch in Ireland this summer and will come with variable valve timing (VVT) for the intake and exhaust.

Engineers worked to reduce the weight of the body shell to bring down the centre of gravity, optimise where the weight is located and reduce the inertia of the car with short overhangs. A long wheelbase ensures excellent stability and provides the 208 R2 with outstanding road holding. The strengthened shell incorporates a multi-point, welded roll cage and marks a real step forward in terms of safety compared to rival roll cages thanks to a new manufacturing process.

The 208 R2 also features a newly developed gearbox. A five-speed, manual, sequential gearbox with the lever mounted on the steering column is fitted and represents a significant evolution for a car of this class in which the gearshift is usually mounted on the floor. The lever is much shorter and positioned higher to allow a more direct and precise shift.

Hydraulic steering allows greater precision and greater feedback of information particularly on loose surfaces whilst the wishbone suspension improves traction and performance.

The newly developed engine, carefully designed aerodynamics, low bodyshell weight and new gearbox all work together to result in significant fuel consumption savings, to keep the costs of competing to a minimum.

The gravel and asphalt versions of the R2 will both be available in kit form or in fully built form from November 2012 from Peugeot Sport.

Xavier Peugeot, Product Director for 208, said, "The 208 carries over the spirit of the 205 and the 206 plus the functionality of the 207 in a thoroughly modern package. With the 208 R2, Peugeot Sport has created an ideal and affordable rally car for someone who wants their first taste of rallying or to simply enjoy their passion."

The Peugeot 208 R2 is the first of three sporting versions of the new 208 that Peugeot intends to reveal in 2012, one of which will be a replacement for the current 207 Super 2000 rally car.