This new Peugeot Exalt concept car shows how the company plans to take on Audi, BMW and Mercedes in the luxury car sector.
Sophie Gazeau, colour and materials stylist for the Exalt, underlined Peugeot’s determination to offer an alternative to luxury cars currently on sale, saying: 'We hear a lot about authenticity, but what is authentic about a piece of wood that has 1000 layers of lacquer on it, or real leather that is treated so much that it looks like plastic no matter for how many years you use it?'
Highlights of the Exalt that could be seen on a future production car include:
More extensive use of wood in interiors. 'The wood is black ebony,' says Gazeau. 'The key is that it is locally sourced and not heavily treated, so it looks and feels real – that adds a premium quality.'
New in-car pollution filters. Styling manager Pierre Paul Mattei says: 'Pure Blue is an air depollution filter system that maintains air quality while you are driving. It stops thin particles like nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide from entering the car. In polluted cities these are important considerations.'
In-car cleansing system. 'When the car is empty and locked, our Pure Touch technology sprays a product on all surfaces to kill all bacteria and funghi,' says Mattei.
The driver-focused interior. Alessandro Riga, lead designer, interior, says: 'You have our signature small steering wheel, and a dash that angles to the driver. The touch-screen emerges from the dash and is also configurable to the driver’s needs. It is like the screen found on today’s Peugeot 308, but with many advancements.'
Luxury interior switchgear. 'The stretched piano-style toggle switches are an evolution of the toggles found today in the Peugeot 3008,' says Peugeot’s design director Gilles Vidal. 'We want the most common interactions with the car to be a more luxurious experience.'
The exposed metal body. Vidal explains: 'Colouring a car requires primer, paint, a varnish layer – every one a pollutant, and adding in total 5kg to a car’s weight. With the right chemical solutions, perhaps we could just lacquer raw metal in the future.'
The ‘shark skin’ rear material. 'It is a fabric with a micro dot texture that helps air flow,' says Gazeau. 'Think of a golf ball with its pimples – this is the same. We estimate it could save 2g/km of CO2 on a car like this. We also like the idea of two-tone colourschemes – Rolls-Royce and Mini do it.'
As well as showing the styling and materials Peugeot could use for an upmarket range of cars – much as Citroen has already done with its DS brand - the Exalt offers a glimpse of how a future saloon could look.
It is 470cm long – 70cm longer than even a Ford Mondeo – but is unusually low at 131cm (around 10cm less than a Mondeo). While the length is likely exaggerated to make the car more eye-catching, the low roof height is believed to be under consideration for a future production car.
'We are all used to having a cathedral over our heads, but why do we really need that space?' said Vidal.
The Exalt has a plug-in hybrid powertrain. It is powered by the same 266bhp 1.6 THP engine that is in the Peugeot RCZ R, but supplemented by a 67bhp electric motor mounted on the rear axle. Again, this technology is known to be under development for future production cars.
The Peugeot Exalt concept will be unveiled at the Beijing motor show later this month.