Jean-Pierre Ploue so impressed PSA bosses with the new design path he devised for the “difficult” Citroen brand (via the new C-series saloons and the Picasso MPVs) that a year ago they made him PSA group design director and confronted him with an even tougher challenge: finding a new direction for Peugeot, while keeping it completely distinct from Citroen.
The new SR1 concept is the first fruit of the changes Ploue proposes for Peugeot, and he talked to autocar.co.uk's Steve Cropley about his work.
What characteristics will distinguish Peugeot and Citroen?
Citroens should be cars whose design may astonish you. They are sculpted cars, with lots of fluidity in their lines. Peugeots are more precise, more tailored cars, with balance and breeding and purity of style. You’d never confuse one with the other.
How significant is the Peugeot SR1?
It’s a manifest of elements which, taken together, show how tomorrow’s Peugeots will look. It’s a collection of the things you’ll see, step by step, and it’ll start in the next year or two.
What are the most significant elements?
I’m talking about the balance of the car, the tailored elegance of its lines, the athletic stance and design language and especially the new front end. By that I mean the new mouth shape, the fact that it’s smaller and more technical in shape, and it’s set into the car, not just tacked on.
How big a change is this for Peugeot?
We think of it as a renewal of the brand, not a break with the past. We’re aiming to continue the Peugeot values you saw in our iconic models like the 205 and 406 Coupe. They had the elegance we want to capture again.
Will you involve an outside design house again?
No, we believe we know best how our future cars should be. But if others produce some nice drawings we’ll certainly look at them.
But didn’t Pininfarina design the two icons you name?
Not exactly. It’s true Pininfarina did design the 406 Coupe, but the 205 was done by Peugeot, with Pininfarina looking at it a bit. But both cars had the Latin spirit we’re trying to recapture, and we think the SR1 captures that, too. I think it’s quite historically satisfying.