Peugeot's latest concept car, set to make its debut at the Paris motor show next month, is a stylish four-door limousine that the designers claims combines power, comfort and green performance - it's powered by a 5.5-litre V12 HDi diesel with particulate filter mounted behind the passenger compartment.

"The raison d'être of any concept car is to explore new ideas and to test those ideas in an attempt to create the ultimate solution. Know-how and passion, combined with imagination then become the motive force that turns dreams into reality," Peugeot said by way of explanation of the unusual layout. "The 908 RC evokes passion and imagination to allow us to dream but it will also have a serious side."

The 908 RC gets its name from its engine, officially the V12 HDi DPFS, which will power the racing version of the 908 in 2007. The abbreviation 'RC', used to designate sports models in the Peugeot range in mainland Europe, also refers to the RC and RC concept cars shown in 2002 and whose architecture served as an inspiration during the design of this latest project.

The original idea was to create a limousine with an imposing style that offered its four occupants a new driving sensation. The final design, however, is an uncompromising car that combines dynamic performance, comfort, luxury and environmental protection. "In short, it is an exclusive four-door vehicle that will capture the imagination of both occupants and onlookers," the French automaker claimed.

The V12 HDi DPFS (diesel particulate filter system) diesel engine was designed to take part in the Le Mans race series programme in 2007. It develops maximum power output "greater than 700bhp" and exceptional torque "in excess of 1200Nm". With a 100° V angle, the engine's centre of gravity is as low as possible. Two particulate filters are located at the end of each exhaust system giving the car environmentally-friendly credentials.

According to the designers, the 908RC's originality is in its compact design, with the engine arranged in a rear central transverse position. Similarly the compact six-speed electronically controlled sequential gearbox has been designed to withstand the phenomenal torque, and is located under the engine.

The position of the power train allows a large capacity boot (trunk), situated behind the final drive assembly and therefore not encroaching on the generous interior space of the passenger compartment. This design also allows the driving position to be moved forward, maximising the travel experience for both the driver and the passengers, they said.

The low-slung body with tapered design at the front rides on large diameter spoked alloy wheels (20" at the front, 21" at the rear); the overall effect, Peugeot claimed, is that of a big cat, from the nose at the front, to the tip of the rear lights.

Lighting is by light-emitting diodes (LEDs), with their dazzling appearance the result of a special finish given to the internal components. The exterior appearance of the lights looks like a crystal, cut like a precious stone, creating a faint outline like the pupil of an eye.

The lack of door handles creates surfaces of great simplicity and purity, and highlighting the reflections that accentuate every facet of the body.

Aligned with the curves of the car's pronounced 'hindquarters', the rear lights, equipped with LEDs, incorporate a polished aluminium insert evoking the shape of a powerful claw. The rear profile is characterised by the shape of the rear air diffuser, accentuated by chrome detailing and supported visually on each side by twin exhaust pipes.

The special shape of the huge front windscreen allows a completely unimpeded field of vision (as on the RC concept cars). The front windscreen stretches back behind the driver's head, as far as the B/C post where the glazed roof begins.

Four individual seats are fitted, and all vehicle functions (radio, MP3 player, satellite navigation, four-zone air conditioning, and so one) can be easily controlled by means of a large touch screen - the Man/Machine Interface (MMI). The MMI is also accessible to the rear passengers via a separate screen positioned on the centre console separating the two rear seats.

The passenger compartment features dark oak surrounds, integral amethyst-grey leather trim, polished aluminium inserts, touches of chrome, and a Bell & Ross clock. Numerous storage spaces, in addition to the large air conditioned glove box, are located in the door panels and also in the front and rear consoles.

Conceived by the Peugeot Design Centre in Paris, the vehicle is built around a pre-impregnated carbon composite and vacuum-polymerised aluminium honeycomb structure. The rear section is a self-supporting shell incorporating a sub-frame consisting of a tubular structure on which the engine and suspension are assembled.

The car features a drop link double wishbone type suspension, derived from the 407.

Braking is by means of four monobloc ceramic carbon composite discs which reduce weight and improve thermal efficiency. The wheels are fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 255/35 R20 tyres at the front and 285/30 R21 at the rear.

Aerodynamics have been fine-tuned to attain an excellent drag coefficient of only 0.556. The air ducts were designed in a wind tunnel to optimise the car's performance and fuel consumption, while ensuring the necessary cooling of the power train.

A two-part front air intake directs air to cool both of the engine's radiators and also improve the car's aerodynamic performance by controlling the internal and external flow by means of the black anodised aluminium vents located upstream of the front wheels.

Air is provided to the engine by means of vents located in the rear quarter panels.

Air is also directed from the rear wheel arches, through the two intercoolers for the turbochargers and then out through the visible vents behind the wheel arch.

A rear spoiler incorporated into the boot lid can be raised by the driver to improve road holding.

The flat under floor and diffuser enhance further the aerodynamic efficiency of the 908 RC.

The car is targeted at a very upmarket customer, naturally accustomed to a very high level of luxury but above all passionate about their motoring and its history, but also in search of innovation coupled with assertive styling and uncompromised driving pleasure, Peugeot said.