Peugeot’s 500-hp 308 R HYbrid is half supercar, half family hatchback

Paris-based Peugeot has introduced a hot-rodded version of the Plebeian 308 hatchback that blurs the line between supercar and econobox. Called 308 R HYbrid, the concept will make its public debut next week at the Shanghai Motor Show.

The hatchback is powered by a 500-horsepower gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid drivetrain made up of a 270-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and a pair of electric motors each rated at 115 horsepower. One of the motors is mounted over the rear axle, while the other one is located next to the six-speed manual transmission on the front axle.

The hatchback offers four driving modes called Hot Lap, Track, Road and ZEV, respectively. Hot Lap mode relies on all three power sources to unleash 500 horsepower and 538 foot-pounds of torque, enough grunt to send the hatchback from zero 62 mph in just four seconds and on to an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph. In Hot Lap mode, the R HYbrid stands out as the fastest and most powerful road car that Peugeot has ever built.

Track mode relies on the turbo four and the rear electric motor to provide 400 horsepower and 390 foot-pounds of twist, figures that still make the 308 R Peugeot’s fastest and most powerful model to date. Designed for everyday driving, Road mode delivers 300 horsepower and 295 foot-pounds. Finally, ZEV relies primarily on the rear-mounted motor to power the 308 on electricity alone.

The trade-off to driving a 500-horsepower family hatchback is that the 308’s practical aspect has been all but tossed out. The lithium-ion battery pack is mounted under the rear bench, where the gas tank is usually found. The 13.2-gallon tank has been consequently re-located in the trunk, directly above the electric motor and a pair of transformers that are needed to transfer power to the rear wheels.

The massive amount of power is complemented by a more aggressive look characterized by a race-inspired front bumper with huge air vents, a new radiator grille with a checkered pattern, vents cut into the hood and a concept-specific rear bumper. Riding on 19-inch alloy wheels, the R HYbrid is noticeably wider and much lower than a stock 308.

Peugeot will announce what the future has in store for its latest concept in Shanghai next week. Rumors of a more powerful 308 aimed at the Volkswagen Golf R have been circulating around the auto industry for several months, so the R HYbrid concept could be toned down a little – both visually and mechanically – and launched as a limited-edition model before the end of the year.

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