How the Peugeot 908 RC Concept Car Works

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Exterior shot of the Peugeot 908 RC
Photo courtesy Peugeot
The exterior of the Peugeot 908 RC concept car. See more concept car pictures.

The second-largest auto manufacturer in Europe wasn't always consumed by cars. Peugeot has a long and storied past of building everything from tools and pepper mills to bicycles that have pedaled their way to Tour de France victory. This article, however, will focus on Peugeot's cars, and not one of those compact models that dodge and dart in Parisian traffic, but the screaming, diesel engine-equipped 908 RC concept car.

If you've read any of our other concept car articles, like How the sQuba Works, you know that a concept car is precisely that: a car based on a concept. Often the concept is a radical idea fostered out of years of research and development. Motorsports plays a large role too, as technology and materials are created for race cars that can be reused in production cars. That's the idea behind the Peugeot 908 RC limousine.

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Dubbed a superlimo, Peugeot's 908 RC (built in 2006) is part supercar, part touring sedan. Similar to a Lamborghini Murcielago, the 908 RC has sharp angles and a sleek stance. At the same time, the compact limo is big and comfortable, with room for four.

Auto manufacturers use concept cars as a way to capture the public's imagination, to generate buzz and boost sales, and to show the rest of the industry what they can do. Let's face it, cars have always been expressive (and expensive), and concept cars are a great way to test a market before building a new model.

Many manufacturers, Peugeot among them, also leverage motorsports as a way to develop and sell vehicles. So what came first, the chicken or the egg? Or in this case, the 908 RC or its fast and feisty alter ego, the 908 HDi FAP race car? Read on to find out.

Peugeot 908 HDi FAP Race Car

Peugeot 908 HDi FAP
­Getty Images
The Peugeot 908 HDi FAP at the Le Mans 24 Hour race in France. Admit it. You want to be behind the wheel.

Many of the world's automakers use racing as a way to develop technologies that often find their way into production cars. For instance, Chevrolet races the factory C6.R Corvettes in the American Le Mans Series, along with Audi and its R10 TDI (successor to the legendary R8 TDI). In both cases, the manufacturers leveraged the success of their racing programs by offering gear heads with deep enough pockets the opportunity to buy the street version (C6 Corvette ZR-1 and Audi R8) of their beloved race cars. The practice has been going on for years.

Automakers often have an in-house sport tuning division filled with engineers who painstakingly research and develop their race cars like AMG at Mercedes-Benz or Motorsports at BMW. Peugeot Sport takes care of that for the French automaker. When deciding to build the 908 RC, Peugeot looked no farther than the in-house technologies developed for the 908 HDi FAP race car, which currently competes in the American Le Mans Series.

On June 14, 2005, Peug­eot announced its intentions to return to sports car racing’s highest level, the Le Mans 24 Hours. From 2000 to 2006, Audi won five out of six races at Le Mans. After an absence of more than a decade, Peugeot hoped the 908 would be the answer to Audi’s stranglehold on sports car racing. A Le Mans Prototype (LMP1) entry, the 908 debuted in Monza, Italy, in 2007 where it collected the victory in the 1,000-kilometer (621-mile) Le Mans Series race and backed up its success with another win its next time out at Valencia, Spain.

During testing, the 908 set a new record at Le Mans (Circuit de la Sarthe), with a time of 3 minutes and 26.707 seconds, besting the previous mark of 3 minutes and 29.905 seconds by the Audi R8 in 2002. In its first attempt at Le Mans, the 908 fared well, posting a runner-up finish. In 2008, the 908s out qualified the Audis and set a blistering track record, with a lap of 3 minutes and 18.513 seconds, beating their own previous mark by an unheard of 7.8 seconds. After leading for much of the race, one of the R10s snatched the lead away after rain hit the track, relegating both Team Peugeot 908s to a second- and third-place finish, respectively.

Tale of the Tape: Audi R10 TDI vs. Peugeot 908 HDi FAP

Audi R10 TDI

2007 Peugeot 908


5.5L (335 cubic inches) Diesel

5.5L (336 cubic inches) Diesel


650 BHP (478 KW)

700 BHP (515 KW)


811 Ft-Lbs (1,100 NM)

885 Ft-Lbs (1,200 NM)


Twin turbo

Twin turbo


2,040 lbs (925 kg)

2,040 lbs (925 kg)

Power-to-weight ratio

3.1 LB/HP

2.9 LB/HP


118.2 BHP/Liter

127.3 BHP/Liter

[source: Concept Carz]; *KW = kilowatts; NM = Newton-meter; BHP = brake horsepower

The 908 HDi FAP uses a diesel-powered 100-degree V-12 engine that produces 700 horsepower. You might think of a diesel engine and picture a bus spewing black smoke out its exhaust pipe in downtown traffic. With the HDi DPFS engine, that's not the case. The 908's engine has two diesel particulate filters, one on each exhaust system, so the e­ngine burns smoke free.

Homologation: From Racetrack to Showroom
Some racing series mandate that manufacturers must produce a specific number of vehicles to be offered for sale to the public. The process, called homologation, has produced some of the finest road cars in history. The BMW E30 M3, arguably the most successful sports car ever, is one such beast. BMW built thousands of M3s from 1986 to 1991 with the same specifications and body design as the race cars. As a result, BMW Motorsports has grown to be one of the most renowned in-house racing divisions of any automaker and has translated its success into some of the best road cars currently on the market.

More impressive is the power. A popular misconception with diesel engines is they produce lots of torque but not as much horsepower. To an extent, that's true, as you can see in the table above. But the relatively small bore and long stroke of the HDi DPFS engine, as well as the flatter stroke angle, produces plenty of high-revving horsepower, and the six-speed sequential gearbox matches the power band just right, to the tune of speeds in excess of 230 mph (360 kph).

Now that you've learned that the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP is one fast car, flip to the next section to see how that racing technology fits into the 908 RC concept car.

908 RC Interior and Exterior Design

Exterior shot of the Peugeot 908 RC
Photo courtesy Peugeot
The 908 RC gliding down some French mountain, no doubt.

When many of us think of a limousine, the first thing that comes to mind is a stretched-out swanky version of a black Cadillac with the requisite tinted windows and wet bar. Sure, plenty of elongated sedans still motor around Hollywood every day. But the cars have evolved, and limos are more compact and sporty while still offering passengers a comfortable ride. Several large sedans on the market today including the Maybach 72, the Lincoln Town Car and, to a lesser extent, the BMW 760Li serve as limousines. The 908 RC takes these luxury cars to a different level.

When you look at the 908 RC head on, you can't help but notice the low stance and huge windshield. More impressive is the design of the front fascia and huge openings in the grill. The grill ducts not only look aggressive, they help to cool the engine's two radiators while aiding aerodynamic performance and fuel efficiency. For even more grip of the pavement at high speeds, an adjustable rear spoiler is tucked away on the boot lid, or rear area of the car. By simply touching a switch, the driver can extend or retract the spoiler, adjusting the amount of downward force on the rear to improve high-speed stability. Much like the 908 HDi FAP, the RC has an air diffuser on its underside to further aid in handling.

All that aerodynamic technology wouldn't make a difference if the car's structure couldn't handle the stress. To make the RC more rigid, Peugeot used carbon composite and honeycomb aluminum when constructing the frame. The result is a tubular skeleton that the engine and suspension are mounted to for added strength.

The angular headlights house LEDs (light-emitting diodes) and add to the low-slung style. One of the most impressive features is the windshield, which sweeps rearward, over the driver's head, until it reaches the area where the door closes, also known as the B pillar. The low design allows the 908 RC to slice through the air and stick to the road.

Interior of the Peugeot 908 RC
Photo courtesy Peugeot
This is where you'll sit, if the 908 RC ever makes it
into production.

The interior of the 908 RC boasts supple leather and what looks like adequate head and legroom for four passengers to ride comfortably at high speeds. Cab-forward positioning delivers plenty of interior room. In fact, the wheels are positioned in front and in back of the passenger compartment. All passengers can access the car's many features with the user touch screen LCDs. The Man/Machine Interface (MMI) controls everything from the radio and navigation system to the air conditioning. Speaking of which, all four passengers have their own air conditioning controls. Plenty of oak and polished aluminum is scattered throughout the cabin to deliver aesthetic appeal.

The sleek exterior design and the interior refinements of the 908 RC give the car plenty of character without sacrificing functionality. As you'll learn in the next section, Peugeot didn't sacrifice speed either. Read on to see how the 908 RC measures in performance.

908 RC Engine and Drivetrain

We've already learned the 908 HDi FAP is fast. It stands to reason the 908 RC is too, right? It is. Peugeot lists the top speed at 168 mph (270 kph). Amazingly, the engine has the same specifications as the race engine found in the 908 HDi FAP. The engine is arranged in a rear transverse mounted position behind the passenger section of the car. To save more space, the electronic sequential six-speed gearbox is located underneath the engine. With a flatter angle, the engine has a lower center of gravity, adding to the mechanical grip of the car.

The new Dodge Charger
Getty Images
That doesn't look like the General Lee! The Dodge Charger R/T at the 1999 Detroit Auto Show.

At 3,967 pounds (1,800 kilograms), the 908 RC isn't as svelte as its race-car cousin, which weighs only 2,040 pounds (925 kilograms). Four monobloc ceramic carbon-composite brake rotor discs and four piston calipers are in charge of stopping the big sedan. The exotic material used in the rotors helps to cool the discs under heavy braking.

The Peugeot 908 RC may be another example of an auto manufacturer showcasing its style and innovations by developing an extravagant car that will eventually lead to a less impressive production car. Sometimes concept cars go into production in a similar form after the manufacturer gauges public perception. But many times, the neatest looking cars never make it to the car lot. For example, in 1999, Dodge revealed a retro-looking four-door Charger concept, bringing back one of the manufacturer's most beloved models. The car received rave reviews but Dodge didn't build it. Instead, Dodge built a totally different vehicle and stuck the Charger badge on it. While the car has had some success, it looks nothing like the concept in 1999.

Peugeot views the 908 RC as a racing sedan of the future. As we pointed out earlier, limousines are no longer exclusively chauffer-driven stretch-mobiles that take right-hand turns worse than a dump truck. The 908 RC puts the driving back in your hands, not the chauffeur's. However, the 908 RC may be the predecessor to the Peugeot 608 sedan. Like both the race car and the superlimo, the 608 will utilize a turbo HDi diesel engine and aim to be fuel efficient while providing power and luxury.

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  • Alina, Simona. "Peugeot 608 renderings." Top Speed. June 16, 2008. (June 28, 2008)
  • "Peugeot 908 - Le Mans challenger powered by HDi." June 19, 2006. (June 28, 2008)
  • "2007 Audi R10 TDI." (July 10, 2008)
  • "2007 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP." (June 29, 2008)
  • Neff, John. "Peugeot Destroys Le Mans Track Record in Qualifying." Autoblog. June 12, 2008. (June 27, 2008)
  • Peugeot. (June 27, 2008)
  • Peugeot. "The 908 RC: The ultimate by Peugeot." Press pack. August 2006.
  • Peugeot. "The 908 V12 HDi DPFS." Press pack. September 2006.