Vijay Pattni10 April 2014

Contains shark: Peugeot Exalt

Follow-up to the mad Onyx concept features a 340bhp hybrid drivetrain. And sharkskin

This is the follow-up to the 2012 Peugeot Onyx concept we so loved here at TG Towers. It's called the Peugeot Exalt concept, and features sharkskin.

Well, not actual sharkskin, but a textile inspired by sharkskin. Like the Onyx before it, the Exalt utilises many unusual materials in its construction. Are you sitting comfortably? Good.

First up, the Exalt measures up at 4.7m long - a little longer than a BMW 3-Series saloon - and is a five-door hatchback-cum-saloon that takes its design inspiration from French cars in the 1920s and 1930s: all bare-steel bodywork and hand-formed. It stands just 1.31m high, too, complete with 20in concept wheels.

It's a striking-looking concept, too, twin headlamps, long bonnet, wide, squat stance and aero creases running down the sides. The rear end is clad in the aforementioned sharkskin; a material that, because of its ‘technical grain' structure, apparently improves the aero of the Exalt and contributes to a low drag co-efficient.

Step inside and there's more natural-world goodness with a splash of the digital age. The wheel is trimmed in a wool-based fabric, there's ‘warm toned wood' situated at the occupants' elbow and arm contact points, and another wool-based ‘chine' mixed fabric for the door trim, dashboard, interior roof, and seat backrests.

There's even a 3D printed strip concealing the stereo speakers, while everything inside has been trimmed using ‘gentleman's bespoke tailoring' methods to avoid waste.

Of course, leather makes an appearance, but here aged naturally without chemical treatment, while there's black ebony wood and basalt fibre. No carbon here, thanks. There's a digital instrument panel, a pair of folding touchscreens on the extended centre console, and nine toggle switches on the dash.

All of this adds up, mind, as the Exalt concept weighs in at 1700kg. Powering it is Peugeot Sport's 1.6-litre four-pot petrol engine, here developing 270bhp and coupled to a six-speed automatic gearbox, and a 70bhp electric motor on the rear axle that boosts power, or harvests energy during braking. No word on performance, but it's not going to be lightspeed with all that weight.

But then this is more a styling and production exercise: raw materials, a cool silhouette and a peek inside Peugeot's design mind. Time to turn these funky concepts into reality, surely?

Top Gear spends a day with the crazy Peugeot Onyx

James May and the Peugeot Onyx

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