Peugeot SR1 concept (2010): a new design direction

Published: 08 January 2010

Peugeot is signalling a fresh design direction with this brave new SR1 concept car. And if it doesn’t look like a Peugeot, that’s deliberate. It’s all change at Peugeot, tacit admission that its design has erred in recent years. Until now, they claim.

The new Peugeot SR1 is a 2+1 concept car – a roadster with overtones of Aston Martin’s V8 Vantage. Seriously! The snout and body surfacing is remarkably like Aston’s triumvirate. And who’d have thought we’d be saying that about a humble Peugeot?

Peugeot SR1 concept car: what’s the point?

This is no show car today, real car tomorrow. Okay, it could influence a future 407 Coupé successor, hint the design chiefs, but that’s not this car’s intent. It’s all about drawing a line in the sand for Peugeot design. And that’s fine by us. We’ve been fierce critics of dull Peugeots for years and can’t remember the last time we got so revved up by a Pug. Excluding perhaps the soon-to-be-launched RCZ coupé.

So read this car and note a few key pointers. The front end is realistic and will influence future Peugeots ‘within two years’, new design director Gilles Vidal told CAR Online. Those narrower headlamps, that smaller, recessed grille – they’re all coming. Thank goodness; we’re no fans of the gaping shark’s gob adorning the front of most Pugs. The roaring lion is redrawn, too.

Take note also of the metalwork. Vidal talks a good game about how Peugeots are going to appear lighter, nimbler, more elegant. He is keen on sculpting away from the body surface, so those scoops appear to be gouged from the bodywork – implying lightness, taking away, rather than adding heft and bulk.

What’s under the pretty body?

The SR1 is a petrol-electric hybrid, showcasing the 218bhp 1.6-litre turbo up front twinned to a 95bhp electric motor turning the rear wheels.

This Hybrid4 system is coming to production Peugeots in 2011 on the 3008, but here it’s used to turn Peugeot’s design statement into a sporty roadster. It can operate in zero-emissions mode around town – in RWD – and yet the average figures tumble to 119g/km and 58mpg.

Perhaps the best bit of the SR1 is its interior. A pair of front seats provide accommodation for adults, and a single rear seat is centrally mounted. The front armrest slides back and forth to allow space for the rear passenger’s feet.

And there’s a neat attention to detail to the finishes inside. Leather, aluminium and ‘black nickel’ provide strokeability, clever dials appear to accelerate towards the horizon when you accelerate, and there’s a solid wooden gunwale ringing the cabin. All very lovely, but less production bound than the exterior.

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet