Video: this is Peugeot’s 2016 Dakar monster, and it’s evil | Top Gear
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Video: this is Peugeot’s 2016 Dakar monster, and it’s evil

Lower, wider, more powerful: watch the rally beast eat terrain for breakfast

Published: 22 Sep 2015

After a tough return to the gruelling Dakar rally in January, Peugeot Sport stomped back to its secret bunker on the outskirts of Paris and immediately set to work on the next iteration of its off-road monster.

This is it: the Peugeot 2008 DKR16.

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It’s not a whole new car, rather an extreme evolution of the old one. So it’s still based on the 2008 crossover, but don’t worry, it’s about as 2008-y as Seb Loeb’s Pikes Peak racer was 208-y

One of the old car’s biggest downfalls was that it suffered from stability issues – largely because it was very tall and skinny – making it a little tottery on South America’s tricky terrain.

So the new car has been lengthened and widened by 200mm, then lowered to make the whole thing a lot squatter. Two spare tyres have also been hidden under its flanks, helping to lower the centre of gravity further.

But to make sure the DKR 2016 can crawl up and over pretty much everything this side of The Shard, its front and rear overhangs have been shortened

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Aerodynamics have been improved – clearly to make sure the car isn’t sent into the stratosphere while launching off a dune - while a new bonnet and roof–mounted air intake balance out the downforce between front and rear, to make sure it returns safely to earth. There’s also a new air scoop to ensure better airflow and maximum XP points on Need For Speed forums.

However,  Peugeot is still going against the grain of its top-level competitors by sticking to a two-wheel drive layout instead of four.

That means all 350bhp and 590lb ft of torque from an updated version of the mid-mounted V6 twin-turbodiesel engine heads to the rear wheels. Which, as you can see from the video above, means massive sandy rooster tails and lots of skids. Good Things, in anyone’s book. 

But there’s more to it than that.  With no power heading to the front wheels, there are less mechanical connections to potentially fail. It also puts the 2008 DKR into a less restrictive class, loosening up the regulations to which Dakar’s dominant four-wheel-drive competitors must adhere.

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That means Peugeot Sport has been able to fit the DKR 2016 with updated suspension offering a hell of a lot more travel (460mm against 250mm), bigger wheels (that are now one-piece magnesium), and a trick inboard remote tyre-pressure system that allows the car to inflate/deflate its rubber on the move.

These changes have already provided silverware as an interim spec version of the car was recently tested at the China Silk Road Rally. It provided Pug with a one-two finish thanks to the helmsmithery of 11-time Dakar winner Stéphane Peterhansel and five-time Dakar bike winner Cyril Despres.

So, could next year’s Dakar rally be Peugeot’s for the taking? We’ll have to wait until January to find out. But until then, check it jumping, bouncing and drifting over pretty much every surface Planet Earth can muster…

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