In order to access the market segment in which the Audi RS3 and Ford Focus RS compete, the 308 R will need more power than Peugeot Sport’s turbocharged 1.6-litre engine can supply. That engine is already fitted with some pretty special internals and is in a high enough state of tune just providing the 308 GTi with its 266bhp. To get the 350bhp-plus from it that the 308 R will need to compete at the highest level of the hot hatch market will be nigh on impossible.
However, a production version of the 308 R Hybrid concept first shown at last year’s Shanghai motor show would have the power and the all-corner drivetrain needed to take on Mercedes-AMG and Audi Sport. Having driven a prototype of that show car late last year, I’d say the resulting production car could be great — provided that Peugeot has ironed out the concept’s less impressive foibles, namely its unresponsive automated manual transmission and the frailty of a hybrid powertrain that can only develop full power for short bursts.
A bigger, better-cooled drive battery and a faster-shifting gearbox aren’t all the road-going 308 R Hybrid would need. An absolutely stellar chassis, coupled with as much weight-saving as possible, would also be required in order to justify what would necessarily be a very high price indeed for any five-door hatchback — let alone one without a premium badge on its nose to boost its desirability.
Stil, don’t bet against a highly motivated and skilled team at Peugeot Sport, properly backed by a notorious petrolhead in PSA Group chairman Carlos Tavares, to come up with the goods.