Peugeot Sport has taken the wraps off its brand new FIA WEC-bound Le Mans Hypercar today. The car, badged the 9X8, features a radical ‘wing-less’ design, and a 2.6 liter hybrid-powered, bi-turbo V6 engine which will work in tandem with a battery developed by Peugeot Sport and Safe, a subsidiary of TotalEnergies.
Peugeot is set to campaign two examples of the 9X8 in next year’s FIA WEC season, and compete against hypercars fielded by Toyota Gazoo Racing and Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, before Ferrari, Audi and Porsche join the category with new cars of their own in 2023.
The model name 9X8 has been chosen as it combines ‘9’, as a nod to Peugeot’s previous topflight sportscars that it has scored famous wins at Le Mans with (the 905 and 908), ‘X’ which refers to its all-wheel-drive technology and hybrid powertrain and ‘8’, the suffixed used for all of Peugeot’s current models.
The biggest talking point is clearly the aero, as the car is set to generate the majority of its downforce through its rear-diffuser, as Peugeot believes that within the rules “there is an opportunity to achieve the required level of performance without a rear wing.”
“The new Le Mans Hypercar regulations were drawn up to level out the importance of conventional performance-boosting systems,” explains Olivier Jansonnie, Peugeot Sport’s WEC Program Technical Director.
“Designing the 9X8 has been a passionate experience because we had the freedom to invent, innovate and explore off-the-wall ways to optimize the car’s performance, and more especially its aerodynamics. The regulations stipulate that only one adjustable aerodynamic device is permitted, without specifying the rear wing. Our calculation work and simulations revealed that high performance was effectively possible without one.”
“The absence of a rear wing on the Peugeot 9X8 is a major innovative step,” adds Stellantis Motorsport Director Jean-Marc Finot. “We have achieved a degree of aerodynamic efficiency that allows us to do away with this feature. Don’t ask how, though! We have every intention of keeping that a secret as long as we possibly can!”
Peugeot’s design team has also tried to incorporate clear styling cues from the constructor’s branding. The 9X8’s front and rear lights take the form of ‘three claw-like strokes’, linked to Peugeot trademarks, while the brand’s new lion’s head logo features in backlit form at the front and on the sides of the car.
The ‘Selenium Grey’ and contrasting ‘Kryptonite’ color scheme, on display in the cockpit meanwhile, is a nod to the color scheme chosen for the new Peugeot Sport Engineered line which was introduced with the 508 and 508 SW.
“We wanted to take a special approach to the cockpit which, until now, has tended to be a purely functional and indistinctive aspect of racing cars, with no brand identity whatsoever,” underlines Matthias Hossann. “The combination of our color scheme and Peugeot’s i-Cockpit interior styling signature have provided the 9X8’s cockpit with a distinctive feel and make it immediately identifiable as a Peugeot in on-board camera shots.
“Since the 9X8 is a Peugeot, the original sketch that steered our work portrayed a big cat ready to pounce, a stance which we have suggested by the slightly forward-tilting cockpit. The overall lines of the Peugeot 9X8 express the brand’s styling cues, while its sleek, racy, elegant forms inspire emotion and dynamism.”