As Peugeot unveils its 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar the styling cues to its current n08 range are clear, the three rakish lights front and back with the large lion front and centre denying anyone the chance to mistake this car’s lineage. But in the process, has the French manufacturer thrown out all of the conventions of ‘how to do aero’ for a typical Le Mans racer? 

The model name 9X8 has been chosen as it combines ‘9’, as a nod to Peugeot’s previous Le Mans winning sportscars, ‘X’ because the car is all-wheel-drive with a hybrid powertrain and ‘8’, the suffix used for all of Peugeot’s current models.

This radical-looking car, with its brave wing-less design, hybrid-powered rear-mounted, 2.6-litre, bi-turbo, 500kW (680hp), 90-degree V6 engine, front-mounted 200kW motor-generator unit, seven-speed sequential gearbox and unique battery developed by Peugeot Sport and Saft, a subsidiary of TotalEnergies (formerly TOTAL Motorsport) is surely going to dazzle fans when it hits the tracks in 2022. 

The 9X8’s big statement is clearly its aero, with Peugeot stating “there is an opportunity to achieve the required level of performance without a rear wing”.

“The new Le Mans Hypercar regulations were drawn up to level out the importance of conventional performance-boosting systems,” explains Olivier Jansonnie, Peugeot Sport’s WEC Programme Technical Director.

 

“Designing the 9X8 has been a passionate experience because we had the freedom to invent, innovate and explore off-the-wall ways to optimise the car’s performance, and more especially its aerodynamics. The regulations stipulate that only one adjustable aerodynamic device is permitted, without specifying the rear wing. Our calculation work and simulations revealed that high performance was effectively possible without one.”

“The absence of a rear wing on the Peugeot 9X8 is a major innovative step,” adds Stellantis Motorsport Director Jean-Marc Finot. “We have achieved a degree of aerodynamic efficiency that allows us to do away with this feature. Don’t ask how, though! We have every intention of keeping that a secret as long as we possibly can!”

The Selenium Grey and contrasting Kryptonite colour scheme, on display in the cockpit meanwhile, is a nod to the colour scheme chosen for the new Peugeot Sport Engineered line which was introduced with the 508 and 508 SW.

“We wanted to take a special approach to the cockpit which, until now, has tended to be a purely functional and indistinctive aspect of racing cars, with no brand identity whatsoever,” underlines Matthias Hossann. “The combination of our colour scheme and Peugeot’s i-Cockpit interior styling signature have provided the 9X8’s cockpit with a distinctive feel and make it immediately identifiable as a Peugeot in on-board camera shots.

“Since the 9X8 is a Peugeot, the original sketch that steered our work portrayed a big cat ready to pounce, a stance which we have suggested by the slightly forward-tilting cockpit”, he continues. “The overall lines of the Peugeot 9X8 express the brand’s styling cues, while its sleek, racy, elegant forms inspire emotion and dynamism.”

We firmly believe this will split fans down the middle, a ‘Marmite’ car but on first look, here at SCG we love it and can’t wait to see it hit the tracks …..