Paul Horrell01 October 2010

Paris 2010: the French connection

See what Renault, Citroen and Peugeot have been up to at their home motor home

HR1

 

This being the Paris show, you'd expect the home teams to come out with a bit of a splash with their psychedelic concept cars. Renault went for the dead-cert headline-grabbing red electric supercar option in the super-sexy Dezir. But Peugeot and Citroen fielded a pair of apparently oddball baby concepts that might prove to be sneakily influential.

The Citroen Lacoste is a reworking of a lot of the ideas on the C-Cactus concept from a couple of years back. It's stripped of all plush big-car luxury and complication. The vibe here is simplicity, comfort and cheeriness, with a twist of beach buggy.

OK, some of it is fluff: the compete lack of weatherproofing, the tennis-net chequer graphics, the golf-ball wheels, the Lacoste polo-shirt seat design.

But a lot is serious. Why not simplify driving, especially in towns? Citroen has clocked that a lot of people who can and do buy ritzy cars for road-trips will have a simple runabout for urban duty. Why is that runabout a car that's under-designed? Citroen is seriously thinking of ways to address those people.

Expect this chain of thought to continue, and for Citroen to come out with a minimalist but original town buggy before many years have passed.

Across the gangway, Peugeot exhibited the HR1. As if mysteriously left behind from the catwalk shows of fashion week, this is a device literally desperate to ride the crest of every trend going. So it's a hybrid. And it's a crossover-coupe. And it's a city car. And it's connected. And it's got scissor doors.

And yet, like it's an over-eager puppy, you can't help smiling at it.

 

So let's try to deconstruct it. The front end is another re-use of Pug's new corporate nose, as debuted on the SR1 concept. And it works quite well when repurposed from a wide low sportster to this tall narrow urban biffabout.

Which is just as well, as this will be the face of the 207 replacement, as well as a mini crossover Pug will be selling next year, based on the Mitsubishi ASX.

The hybrid system is a downsized version of what's on the 3008 hybrid: electric motor for the rear wheels, piston engine for the fronts. So it's effectively 4WD. Woo hoo, another box ticked.

The petrol engine is the same new three-cylinder that the Citroen Lacoste uses: 1.2 litres, three cylinders and a turbo, so spunky performance for a little 'un. That engine is destined for production across the Citroen and Peugeot ranges very shortly.

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