After his first test of the Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak with which he will make his debut in the Colorado hill climb next month, Sebastien Loeb expressed amazement at the 875hp car's speed.
The nine-time World Rally Champion drove the car at a test track in northwest France earlier this week, and came away awed by its power. "I've never driven anything that accelerates so fast," exclaimed the Frenchman. "The 208 T16 Pikes Peak is a rocket.
"It's so powerful. The first time you drive it, each gear change practically stuns you. The shifts are brutal and a it takes a little time to anticipate the sudden jarring. You get used to it, but it was quite disorientating to begin with."
Loeb said he was not only impressed by the power but also by the performance of the brakes and aerodynamics.
"Due to its aerodynamic downforce and wide tires, its braking is amazing, too," he said. "The 208 package is a combination of the best of several worlds: it's got the downforce of a Formula 1 car, the wide tires of an endurance racing prototype and a differential, like a WRC car.
"In the lower gears, a Formula 1 car doesn't deliver maximum power. With the Peugeot, though, it's bang, bang, bang as you move up the box from standstill.
"Due to its four-wheel drive transmission and turbocharged engine, its pull-away performance is phenomenal. You find yourself in sixth gear at 150mph in no time at all!" Indeed, with a 0-62mph time of 1.8sec, the Pikes Peak Peugeot would leave any F1 car standing…
“I have driven many types of car in my career, but this is very, very different. Its acceleration performance and stopping power are more like those of a Formula 1 car than a rally car," Loeb added. "Its handling is fantastic as well – there's so much grip, and the all-wheel drive transmission makes it very stable. It's got huge potential.”
Peugeot's test program for the one-off car will continue on a variety of circuits and open roads at altitude as it prepares for the June 30 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
"I really can't wait to get to drive the 208 T16 Pikes Peak in Colorado," added Loeb. “This [French] track isn't very wide and there isn't any run-off, so I'm taking things one step at a time. I don't know what the car's limits are yet but it was important to do this run on a circuit. Now we have a better idea of where we stand and a better overview of the car's potential. After that, the challenge will be to try to feel totally at one with the car on Pikes Peak itself. That will take some work…”