Look to the Future: (partly) electric hot hatchbacks

Fast hatchbacks with only a combustion engine may soon be a thing of the past. Increasingly strict CO2 regulations are forcing car manufacturers to phase out models with only one fuel engine under the hood. Is the segment doomed with that? If we look at what Peugeot and Renault are probably planning, that does not seem to be the case.

Both Peugeot and Renault have a rich history to go back to when it comes to hot hatchbacks: from Peugeot’s illustrious GTi models to Renault’s Gordini, Turbo and RS models. In the recent past, there were still plenty of peppery models from the factories of the French brands, think of the fierce last 208 GTi and Clio RS. Yet no sporty top versions of the current generations of Clio and 208 have been released. Not yet, because there is a lot in store.

PSE or GTI?

Peugeot has already shown that it does not want to ignore the sporty driver. Under the PSE label, the brand wants to pour a number of models with a sporty sauce. PSE stands for ‘Peugeot Sport Engineered’ and the recently unveiled 508 PSE is the first model to bear this label. The main theme at PSE is electrification: the 508 PSE is a plug-in hybrid and the models to come will all be equipped with a (partly) electric powertrain. The sporty version of the 208 will most likely be an electric powerhouse based on the e-208. Will the spicy 208 get the PSE label? Given the car’s electric powertrain, that seems to fit in perfectly. After all, the sporty plug-in of the 508 also has the PSE badge on its bottom. What Peugeot does with the GTi label? It seems too valuable to put it in the bulky waste once and for all, but that will have to be shown later. Perhaps the top electric version of the 208 will be called ‘PSE’ in some markets and ‘GTi’ in other markets. For the time being, it does not seem that Peugeot is putting a sporty version with only a petrol engine in addition to the hot electric 208.

Of course, the horny 208 gets more than just a powerful electro heart and a sporty badge. Peugeot’s sports department will undoubtedly also be able to turn a hatchback with a closed EV muzzle into an exciting spectacle. As with the 508 PSE, thick bumpers, big wheels and exuberant spoiler work should make the 208 an optical feast. To make it stand out even more, the fluorescent color, which is also reflected in the logo of PSE, is also expected to play a role. How powerful the sniffed plug 208 becomes? That is of course still a mystery, but you can count on it that in terms of performance it will certainly not be inferior to competitors such as the Fiesta ST and Polo GTI, which are all around 200 hp. The battery size of 50 kWh from the e-208 will most likely be maintained. There is not much more space in the bottom of the e-208 and the weight – which already amounts to 1,430 kg – would also increase.

Alpine

Where Peugeot still seems to continue to elaborate on the 208 for its small sportsman, that question is completely open at Renault. Earlier this year, Renault stressed that Renault Sport should be “inventive” and that the Clio RS may be a victim of increasingly stringent environmental regulations. Instead, the electric Zoe would be submerged in the tub of RS parts. With the Zoe E-Sport, Renault already showed at the Geneva Motor Show in 2017 what could become of such a fast Zoe. With its 463 hp it was very extreme. That there would never be a Zoe RS with such a mountain of power was of course certain from the outset, but Renault did send a clear signal with the Zoe E-Sport. Also for the possibly sporty top version of the Zoe count on a set of electro muscles that will be comparable to that of its direct opponents.

Peugeot 208 Renault Zoe

Just like with Peugeot, it is still a matter of waiting at Renault under which label such a possible ‘Zoe RS’ will fall. Brand new CEO Luca de Meo has big plans for Alpine. He sees opportunities to use Alpine to ‘make EVs more exciting and emotional’. De Meo previously separated Cupra from Seat and turned it into a separate brand. A comparable treatment would also be possible for Alpine. An Alpine Zoe? It is possible just like that. Whatever the future holds, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be boring. It goes without saying that other brands will also come up with electric or electrified hot hatches. After all, the battlefield of the hot hatchbacks is not limited to France alone.

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