Peugeot to take on Le Mans with Peugeot Hybrid4 500kW hypercar

Peugeot Hybrid4 500kW

New rules for World Endurance racing have tempted Peugeot out of hibernation and back onto the track with its Peugeot Hybrid4 500kW hypercar.

This is the car that Peugeot will race at Le Mans and other rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championships. It is, of course, a hybrid and one that if it wasn’t tied up by rules would punch out nearly 1000bhp.

But, FIA rules dictate these hypercars must be limited to 500kW on the track. So, Internet, what’s this thing all about? The Peugeot Hybrid4 500kW (yep, that’s its full name) sees Peugeot and Total continue their collaboration to build this hybrid hypercar.

It runs a mid-rear 2.6-litre twin-turbo V6 making 500kW and a front-mounted 200kW ‘motor generator’ making the thing all-wheel drive, and running through a seven-speed sequential gearbox. But, as per FIA rules, output is limited to a total of 500kW. This means, until the battery runs out and the electric motor stops, power will be adjusted, after that, the petrol motor will take over fully and release its full 500kW. But it’s more complicated even than that.

Peugeot Hybrid4 500kW

See, the electric motor can only be used at speeds above 120km/h, meaning at take off or under that speed the Hybrid4 500kW will run as a petrol-powered rear-drive car, and the only way the battery will be charged during racing is via kinetic braking recovery. So, the Hybrid4 500kW will be constantly flipping between twin engine all-wheel drive and single engine rear-drive. But, wait, there’s more.

There are times when none of the above matter. Sigh. Like at the end of straights when power can be boosted to 515kW and the battery is empty…the electric motor will be able to supply 15kW of grunt. And it’s allowed for the Hybrid4 500kW to run with both engines, one or the other.

The petrol-powered twin-turbo V6 is an all-new engine and Peugeot said it considered a single turbo layout but that this didn’t give it what it needed in terms of “weight, packaging of the engine’s ancillaries, reliability and performance”.

The seven-speed transmission will be controlled by flappy paddles on the steering wheel and the brake-by-wire system will be fully adjustable by the driver.

The rules have relaxed in that there no longer needs to be a corresponding road car alongside the race car, rather the rules suggest the powertrain needs to find its way into a production vehicle. Who wouldn’t want something with all-wheel drive and 700kW?

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Isaac Bober has been writing about cars and 4x4s for more than 20 years, has worked on some of the country's biggest motoring magazines (remember what they were?), and launched Practical Motoring. Now he's back, back again... to share dad jokes and much more.