This beast is the new Peugeot Dakar racer, dubbed the 2008 DKR16. It’s bigger, more powerful and more menacing than the old machine. In fact, if you could win the Dakar just by looking tough, this would win easily.

Peugeot returned to the Dakar after a 25-year absence in 2015 with the first iteration of 2008 DKR. It didn’t go especially well. One of the cars retired in the first week and the remaining two finished well down the order.

Rather than go back to the drawing board, the team at Peugeot Sport instead evolved and developed what they already had into the new machine. Still, the changes are pretty drastic. The DKR16 is 200mm longer (all in the wheelbase), 200mm wider and much lower.

The mid-mounted, 3.0-litre, twin-turbo V6 diesel motor now produces 350bhp and 590lb/ft of torque, which should be plenty to hurl the car across some of the toughest terrain in the world at 120mph.

A completely new front end improves downforce, as does a new engine intake – which also improves airflow to the motor. Significantly shorter front and rear overhangs help the DKR16 to – possibly literally – climb every mountain and ford every stream.

The car is lighter, too, thanks largely to new magnesium wheels and Michelin tyres.

Peugeot’s machine is unusual for an intended front-runner, in that it is rear-wheel-drive; since 2001, every winner has been four-wheel-drive. But RWD machines can run considerably lighter and are allowed greater suspension travel, which provides an on-paper advantage.

Putting theory into practice, though, is difficult and Peugeot faces a huge task to overcome the mighty X-Raid Minis, winners of the last four events. Still, if the 2008 DKR16 holds together, it stands a better chance of beating the tank-like Countrymans than any other car.

Peugeot took its first win  – and second place – with an interim-spec car on the recent Silk Road Rally in China. That’s a hard event, but the Dakar is something else entirely. We’ll found if the new car works when the 2016 Dakar Rally gets under way on 3 January.

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By Only Motors

Video via Youtube/peugeotsportofficial