From the arid, dusty, desert toil of Chile and Bolivia, to the lush green lawns of West Sussex; it’s all in a day’s work for the Peugeot 2008 this year.
The plucky little MPV crossover, which most British drivers associate with the suburban supermarket run, took part in the Dakar Rally, the world’s toughest off-road race, in January. The Dakar is notably hard because it combines extreme off-roading with unmanageable heat for engines and humans, and a bewildering orienteering challenge.
The race is contested by motorbikes and cars, professionals and amateurs, and began in 1978 after motorbike rider Thierry Sabine got lost in the Sahara Desert the previous year and thought, not, as you and I would, of a little lie-down and a nice G&T, but of organising a desert challenge like the one he had just faced.
The event gets its name from the capital of Senegal, and for years the rally ran the 6,200 miles from Paris to Dakar. However, due to unrest in Mauritania since 2009, Argentina, Bolivia and Chile have provided the landscape for this gruelling test of man and machinery.
The 2008 DKR, as the race-going version is called, bears more resemblance to a remote-controlled tiny trucker on steroids.
Under the bonnet is a 3.0-litre V6 bi-turbo diesel engine developing 340hp and a grunt-shovelling 800Nm of torque. In a departure from most of the class, Peugeot chose rear-wheel drive for its sand-blaster rather than all four.
To cope with the colossal dunes and searing heat, the pumped-up suspension (clearance at 460mm instead of the normal 250mm) consists of two coil springers and two adjustable dampers per wheel (shod in hefty 37in michelins), and the tank takes a hefty 400 litres of fuel.
Peugeot wasn’t able to clinch the Dakar crown this year but the 2008 DKR is a phenomenal piece of desert machinery and will be gracing Peugeot’s stand at the Festival of Speed.