Peugeot calls it a concept but let's not kid ourselves: this is the 207CC. A successor to the 206CC, the car that brought folding metal hardtops to the woman in the street, next spring's production CC will look almost identical to the Epure. But don't expect to find the concept's engine under the showroom CC's nose: the Epure employs hydrogen power.
There are no major surprises in the Epure's design except that it appears far easier on the eye than the old hunchbacked 206CC. There's more than a hint of Tigra to the aggressive cab-forward stance too. Inside there's seating for two adults up front and a couple of circus midgets in the back. The ambience is very pimp's pad: white leather covers everything from the seats and dashboard to the steering column. But while numerous cows have been slaughtered to clothe the cabin, Peugeot hasn't forgotten the Epure's ecological heart. It has dotted flourishes of 'absinth green' around the interior, and claims the seat perforations are supposed to look like little bubbles of oxygen.
Under the curvy bonnet lies PSA's new experimental fuel cell engine, designed with the help of the French Atomic Commission. Peugeot has shown fuel cell cars before but this one's powerplant is smaller, more powerful and more fuel efficient. The 207's front-mounted Genpac fuel cell consists of two modules each containing a stack of thin plates and electrode membranes. In the rear, under the boot floor are five 3kg cylinders of hydrogen which is mixed with oxygen from the atmosphere in the fuel cell. The result is a displacement of electrons and protons that produces heat, water and of course, electricity, which drives the car's electric motor. Peugeot's figures say the understandably tubby 1550kg tin-top ambles to 62mph in a slothful 15.0sec before running out of steam at just 81mph. As well as showing off the compact new powerplant Peugeot chose the 207CC to house it to show that fuel cell cars don’t have to be purely functional. But without the necessary infrastructure, fuel cells won't be appearing any time in the next ten years. PSA's mid-term solution is diesel-electric hybrids but even those won't be available until at least 2010.
The showroom car
Forget the chrome embellishments, dubious leather trim and Buck Rogers powertrain and this is the 207CC that will be in UK showrooms next spring. Expect it to cost between £15K and £17K depending on spec, top money buying a fully loaded car powered by the 150bhp turbocharged four under the nose of the 207 GT warm hatch.