An updated version of the two-wheel drive Peugeot 2008 DKR for 2016 has just been revealed. It is now longer by 200 mm, wider by 200 mm, lower and more powerful.

The 3.0 litre twin-turbo diesel now churns out 350 hp and 800 Nm of torque. The front and rear overhangs have also been reduced, making it easier for the vehicle to tackle obstacles such as sand dunes, riverbeds, and huge rocks that are a feature of the arduous Dakar Rally.

Its bonnet and roof mounted air-intake have been revised to provide more balanced downforce between the front and rear, with a new air scoop to ensure better airflow. The suspension has been redesigned too, with one-piece magnesium wheels matched to lighter tyres from Michelin. As it replaces the aluminium two-piece wheels from last year, the combination results in significant weight savings.

Work on the new ride began seven months ago, just after last year’s Dakar Rally. Eleven-time Dakar winner Stephane Peterhansel, two-time WRC champion and former Dakar winner Carlos Sainz and five-time Dakar motorcycle winner Cyril Despres have all been helping Peugeot’s engineers to analyse and improve the ride.

Peterhansel and Depres recently scored a one-two finish on the recent China Silk Road Rally using an interim-specification car, which was a 2015 model with developmental parts for 2016 added to it. The 3.0 litre twin-turbo diesel has been tweaked, and despite the air restrictor, is more powerful with increased driveability.

“There isn’t one big change that we have made on our car; instead it has been a series of small evolutions in different areas, which together we hope will amount to an overall improvement,” said Peugeot Sport director Bruno Famin.

“You can really feel the difference now that the car is longer and wider, with a lower centre of gravity, because it’s a lot more stable so cornering speeds are faster. You can feel the difference in the engine as well: not only is it more powerful but also you can use all the power even at low revs,” said Peterhansel, who gave the vehicle its first-ever overall win in China.

Sainz, who concentrated on development work, rather than competing in China, chimed in: “The potential of the car is much, much bigger than it was at this time last year and reliability has been solid too. We’ve changed quite a lot in the car in many key areas, so really we can call this one a completely new car compared to last year. I feel optimistic.”