The Peugeot 2008 DKR has a muscular yet beastlike appearance that clearly conveys its quest for success. This well-oiled machine will be piloted by Carlos Sainz and Cyril Despres as Team Peugeot Total takes on the Dakar Rally in January.
The unveiling of the 2008 DKR to the public as the team’s main racing car comes three weeks after it was announced that Peugeot, Red Bull and Total are joining hands for the 2015 Dakar. Of course, the 2008 DKR looks similar to Peugeot's road-going crossover from which it was based. However, in terms of overall looks, the 2008 DKR has more imposing overall proportions and more muscular forms. Its impressive lines are a result of the collaboration between the people of Peugeot's Style Centre and those at Peugeot Sport's Design Department. With that, the 2008 DKR has a remarkable likeness to the production version.
Of course, the 2008 DKR isn't just a styling exercise or a design study. The technical limitations linked with the Dakar Rally are what influenced its dominantly aggressive stance.
Jean-Christophe Pailler, Project Leader at Peugeot Sport, remarked that the brief provided to Peugeot's Style Centre was very precise. These include the car’s basic key dimensions, the required cabin space, wheel size and the suspension travel. Furthermore, Peugeot Sport provided the Style Centre with the aerodynamic data derived from its early simulation work.
Nonetheless, Peugeot Sport's design team had to decide whether to bestow the 2008 DKR with a two-wheel or four-wheel drive system. After all, the type of drive that would be fitted into the 2008 DKR would dictate its design. As Pailler disclosed, Peugeot Sport conducted an in-depth analysis of what already exists in cross-country rallying and compared the advantages of the different solutions.
Ultimately, Peugeot Sport chose a solution different to that of their rivals. While the competition opted for four-wheel drive system – mainly because of the off-road nature of the Dakar Rally -- Peugeot Sport went for a two-wheel drive system. Pailler remarked that they opted for a two-wheel drive transmission because of its capability off the road and its ability to run on sand. Furthermore, adopting a two-wheel drive transmission allowed them to bigger wheels and take advantage of more suspension travel. The 2008 DKR rides on 37-inch Michelin tires.
All of these considerations heavily influenced the work of Peugeot's four-strong design team. Despite the challenges, the team was more than willing to meet them and succeed on a greater challenge brought by cross-country rallying.
Giovanni Rizzo, exterior designer for the 2008, quipped that main difficulty in designing the 2008 DKR was how to adapt the production version’s styling cues to the different technical constraints brought by the hostile terrains in cross-country rallying. He noted that two approaches were available for them. One of these is to take a standard 2008 and install bespoke parts. The other is to design a car inspired by the overall forms of the 2008. The team decided to take on the second approach and create a fresh version of the 2008. For instance, the 2008 DKR has rear doors, which means it could have been the coupe version of the 2008.
While adopting the rear styling cues of the 2008 road car to the 2008 DKR was a simple challenge, it was different for the design elements on the front end. Michael Trouve, Peugeot Design Manager, remarked that the 2008 DKR needs a very high approach angle for its off-road capability. This gave the Peugeot 2008 DKR a short front overhang, which means that the front-end design of the rally car had to be different from that of the road version. Thankfully, the technical team agreed to their proposition and moved to reposition certain parts. This gave the team a little freedom to pen a front end that looks similar to that of the road car.