First of all, Peugeot’s post-apocalyptic-looking 2008 DKR is not a 2008 model. That stems from the French carmaker’s nomenclature of having one or two zeros between two numbers (i.e. 508 sedan and 5008 MPV).
Secondly, this scary-looking machine won’t be appearing in a future episode of The Walking Dead. Where it made an appearance—and doubtless terrifying the competition and spectators alike—was at the 2015 Dakar Rally.
Even with the race over, the 2008 DKR is still worthy of gracing this site, if only because it looks flat scary.
“Much like we did when we chose to build a closed-cockpit car for the Le Mans 24 Hours, we decided to try a totally different strategy to that of our main rival,” said Bruno Famin, Peugeot sport director, comparing the new 2008 DKR with the 2014 Dakar-winning Mini. “Since they’ve mastered four-wheel-drive, we have chosen to focus on optimizing two-wheel-drive, which offers a number of intriguing benefits.”
Thirty years ago, 4×4 was the wave of the future with the Peugeot 205 and the Audi Quattro crushing their rear-wheel drive competition in the WRC. But, today, a well-developed 2WD rally car has some significant advantages over its 4WD counterpart—especially when it comes to the Dakar Rally.
“Two-wheel-drive cars can run at a significantly lower weight. Also, these machines are allowed to use bigger wheels, which goes well with obstacles,” explains Tech Manager Jean-Christophe Pallier. “The wheel size also allows us to minimize the front overhang. The suspension benefits from increased ground clearance—it runs at almost 400 mm, as opposed to 250 mm, which gives us a much greater capacity to get past any obstacles in our path.”
Additionally, homologation allows the co-driver to adjust the tire pressures from inside the cabin.
The Peugeot 2008 DKR is mid-engined and the power plant is a 340 bhp twin-turbo diesel V6. The car is shorter and squatter than previous Red Bull Dakar cars, which makes it trickier to fit all the vital assemblies within such a small frame. But the huge advantage of such a small car competing in the Dakar Rally is that it’ll be great over twisty terrain.
Taking on 10,000 kilometers of the world’s longest and toughest cross-country rally 25 years after the French car manufacturer last contested the event, the team has recruited former WRC champion Carlos Sainz and five-time Dakar Rally motorcycle champion Cyril Despres, who will be making his racing debut on four wheels.
The 2015 campaign recalls a particularly successful period in the history of the French team, which made an indelible mark on the Dakar by winning the legendary race four years running from 1987 until 1990, first with the 205 T16 Grand Raid, then with the equally iconic 405 T16 Grand Raid.