Easily one of the toughest, meanest new vehicles of 2014, the 2008 DKR is being prepped for Peugeot's 2015 return to the Dakar Rally. We've already looked at the intense body build, and now we have the details on what will be propelling the rally car up powdery hills, through fiery canyons and over rough desert floors.

For any regular driver, the untamed wilds of the Dakar course would absolutely demand four-wheel-drive. But the Peugeot-Total team of professionals is preparing to hit the course with just the rear wheels hooked up to the V6 engine. Peugeot made this decision after carefully considering the pros and cons of two- and four-wheel layouts.

"In the case of cross-country rallying, two-wheel drive cars are allowed to be significantly lighter than 4x4s," explains Jean-Christophe Pallier, technical project manager. "They are also entitled to use bigger wheels, which provide them with a certain advantage when it comes to coping with the many pitfalls associated with this type of terrain. On top of that, they allow us to minimize the front overhang. The 2008 DKR can practically climb vertical walls!"

"Longer suspension travel – 460 mm instead of 250 mm – enhances its ability over dunes and when soaking up uneven ground," he adds. "That’s a key asset on an event like the Dakar."

It's just as well that the team didn't have to deal with a 4x4 system, because it had its work cut out for it in stuffing the existing mechanicals into the stout, 4,099 x 2,033-mm (L x W, 161 x 80) structure of the 2008 DKR. The car is powered by a mid-rear 3.2-liter V6 diesel engine, which puts 340 horses and 590 lb-ft of torque to work with help from twin turbochargers and a longitudinally-mounted six-speed manual sequential gearbox. The combination opens up a top speed of 124 mph (200 km/h).

Underneath its high, chiseled arches, the 2008 DKR runs double wishbone suspension with two coil springs and adjustable dampers per wheel. The hydraulic braking system has light alloy, four-piston calipers and vented 355-mm front and rear discs. The 37-in Michelin tires maintain traction in all conditions with the help of a pressure system that allows the driver to adjust pressures from inside the cabin – say, when he encounters a sand dune zone.

Peugeot hopes to become the first team to win Dakar with a combination of two-wheel drive and diesel power. Cyril Despres, Stephane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz will pilot the 2008 DKR at the 2015 event, which will run January 4 to 17 in South America.

Watch the 2008 DKR in action in the video below and get up close and personal with it in our photo gallery, which includes a look at a whimsical 2008 DKR-styled soap box car.

Source: Peugeot, Red Bull