Peugeot 308 GTI turns to hybrid power
Peugeot has confirmed that both plug-in hybrid and fully electric powertrains will replace purely petrol-powered engines in future versions of its 308 GTi hot hatch.
According to Jean-Marc Finot, the head PSA’s motorsport division responsible for designing and engineering the company’s performance cars, we are “close to” seeing the last GTi powered solely by an internal combustion engine.
“Now we are working on a new program for a sports car, but a low-emission vehicle sport car, a pure electric or plug-in hybrid,” he said.
Mr Finot said that with European regulations demanding lower carbon dioxide emissions the electrification of the group’s Peugeot, Citroen and DS line-up was inevitable and that goes for its performance cars as well.
“We are working on the next low emission performance vehicle because in Europe we have to match 95 grams of C02 in 2020, and for 2030 the European parliament is talking about 40 per cent less so we have to go to low emission vehicles,” he said.
While Mr Finot was able to confirm both fully electric and plug-in hybrid variations he was unable to say if both versions would arrive at once.
“We are working on both of them and we propose a performance car that is fully electric as well as plug in,” he said.
A plug-in hybrid version of Citroen’s C5 Aircross arrives in early 2020 and an all-wheel-drive (with an electrified rear axle) of it is being built for the Chinese market so the hardware is on its way, possibly for the next 308 due in the same year.
Just because the upcoming GTi will be low on emissions and fuel consumption won’t mean that performance will suffer.
Peugeot has already demonstrated the potential of its hybrid systems with the 2015 concept 308 GTi R Hybrid (pictured) which had the GTi’s 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine and an electric motor driving the front wheels, and electric motors on the rear axle for a total of 368kW of power and zero to 100km/h in four seconds.
That car was never built reportedly because the GTi’s robotized manual gearbox was not strong enough to handle the extra torque. The latest version of the PSA Group’s EMP2 platform seems likely to be able to accept both a dual-clutch gearbox and a limited slip differential, or at least an eight-speed automatic, opening the way for a fully bulked-up GTi.
Mr Finot said the all-wheel-drive system with electric motors for front and rear axles not only delivered high performance, but also more driving ease.
“If you add the power of both of them [twin electric motors] you have around 300 horsepower [200kW] at the wheels,” he said.
“What we have to demonstrate with our sports car is that a low emission vehicle is not just for emissions, not just for economy but it’s also a pleasure to drive. You have a lot of torque at low revs, you have all the torque as soon as you start so it’s very smooth and easy to drive.”
While Mr Finot said that getting more power from an electric motor was only as difficult as increasing its length, but that means packaging issues to fit the longer drivetrain under the car’s bonnet, plus an upgrade of the control module storing and delivering battery power, and then there are cooling issues.
“To get more power from an electric motor it’s really easy, you just have to increase the length of the motor,” he said.
“So it’s packaging in the car, it is also the control command of the battery management. And if you are more demanding in power you will increase the cycling of the battery so you will increase the temperature, you will have to manage that.”
However because PSA’s motorsport division also runs its Formula E electric open-wheeler racing program, and according to Mr Finot the systems are virtually same, there shouldn’t be too many engineering problems.
“It’s exactly the same skills from the same people that are designing our Formula E and our performance car so that will be relatively easy,” he said.
Living it up in the South of France, Hawley knows the difference between a pain au chocalat and Panhard rod as one of Drive's senior European contributors