This is the Peugeot SR1, a handsome hybrid three-seat roadster concept which showcases a new set of styling ideals to be used on all future Peugeots. It has been revealed at the Geneva motor show.
Although the car is officially described as a concept whose format was deliberately chosen to keep it clear of Peugeot’s existing line-up, group design director Jean-Pierre Ploue hints that the Peugeot SR1 could eventually be seen in showrooms itself.
The project is part of a broad-based move by PSA bosses to sharpen Peugeot’s brand image during 2010, its 200th year as an industrial entity.
It brings a welcome end to the 'wide mouth' era of recent Peugeot design, notably used on the best-selling 207 supermini, in favour of a much more elegant, technical look. Ploue also hints that the first production Peugeot with the new look will be the 207’s replacement, due next year.
The SR1 is a generously proportioned soft-top roadster, whose 4.4-metre length, 1.8-metre width and 2.6-metre wheelbase make it almost identical in size to the Aston Martin V8 Vantage. However, the SR1 features a single, central rear seat, and its power unit is a 240bhp, four-cylinder, downsized petrol turbo engine (Peugeot won’t reveal how small) mounted transversely in the nose to drive the front wheels through a twin-clutch paddle-shift transmission.
An electrically driven rear axle, capable of propelling the SR1 “for a few kilometres”, adds around 80bhp, giving the car the high performance of a genuine GT. Peugeot insiders describe the SR1 as a downsized performance car, capable of an impressively low CO2 output of 109g/km.
The SR1 bristles with neat and thoughtful design details, including an opulent, three-wood sculpted cockpit surround, carbonfibre outer panels whose weave is visible in places and blends into a coloured surface in others, instruments that include a range display and a 'driving efficiency' indicator, a dash clock which is actually a removable Bell & Ross watch, and a three-dimensional speedo whose readout 'grows' away from you as you accelerate.
But it’s SR1’s proportions and major exterior design features that really matter for the future, Ploue says: the precise shape and restrained size of the countersunk grille, the graceful proportions, the new sense of lightness of the car’s flanks, and the more sharply defined and simpler surfaces. These things, he promises, will be seen on tomorrow’s Peugeots.
The SR1's unveiling follows hard on the heels of a series of changes to PSA’s design management hierarchy.
Ploue, who impressed PSA group bosses by finding a new direction for the problematic Citroen brand, has been promoted to head of all PSA design, with Thierry Metroz, 46, replacing him at Citroen. The new Peugeot design boss is 36-year-old Gilles Vidal.
The new order doesn’t believe Peugeot needs the complete overhaul Citroen did, but that the current look has definitely progressed as far as it can go.