What springs to mind when you think of Peugeot in 2014? A budget hatchback? Or a refined yet still relatively ordinary family saloon? Chances are, barring one or two anomalies such as the RCZ or 2012’s Onyx concept, the Lion badge doesn’t tend to conjure images of a beautiful and unusual sports car.
Step forward, the Exalt concept.
Due to be officially presented to the world at the upcoming Beijing Motor Show later this month, the Exalt is really quite something. It seems to be the next stage in the Onyx’s evolution, a five-door hatchback replete with slick and straight cut lines, twin headlamps, aero creases along the sides and an aggressive prow. To us, it seems like there’s a little of BMW and Mazda in the mix, though Peugeot have said its bare steel bodywork is a tip of the hat to French car manufacturing during the 1920s and 30s, hand-formed by a panel beater. It’s not very long – 4.7m, and neither is it very high, just 3.1m to the top of the roof, including the huge 20 inch wheels.
And it features shark skin.
Ok, technically speaking, it’s not skin from an actual shark, which would be sure to have PETA up in arms. According to Peugeot, it’s actually an ‘efficient textile’ which was inspired by the skin from a shark, and which improves the drag coefficient of the car. That doesn’t impart the same level of coolness on the Exalt, but is still impressive nonetheless, at least from a technical standpoint.
Step inside the cabin and you’ll find a mix of nature and technology. The steering wheel, for example, is trimmed in both leather and a natural wool-based fabric known as chiné, while carbon fibre is replaced by basalt fibre, a natural composite, and parts of the doors and dashboard are finished in wood. Co-existing alongside these natural features is a central console featuring two folding touchscreens which emerge from the dashboard. There’s also nine toggle switches laid out in an easy-to-remember format, and an air treatment system they’ve called ‘Pure Blue’, which purifies the cabin when the car isn’t moving, and treats incoming air when it is.
Overall, the Exalt weighs 1,700kg and is powered by a 1.6L four-cylinder engine developed by Peugeot Sport, which churns out 270hp and is coupled to a six-speed auto gearbox. At the rear, there’s also a 50kW (67hp) electric motor which can be used to boost power or recharge the battery using the energy generated by braking.
So, will it ever make it to the roads? Unlikely, if its predecessor is anything to go by. And, as with all concept cars, those that do make it out of the designer’s vision and into the real world are often unrecognisable when compared to the initial concept. But if that were to happen to the Exalt, it would be a real shame. Here’s hoping that, at the very least, some of these fantastic features will trickle down to the extended Peugeot family.