Paul Horrell03 March 2010

Geneva show: Peugeot SR1

Petrol-hybrid roadster concept looks even better in the metal. Please build it, Peugeot

Geneva show: Peugeot SR1

Peugeot doesn't do big swanky roadsters. And even if it did, they wouldn't look like this. At least up to now.

The official line is that Peugeot won't make a car based on this concept, but after about five minutes of repeated badgering, the design boss of Peugeot and Citroen, Jean-Pierre Ploué, said that well, maybe, ummmm, it wasn't impossible. Maybe he just said it to get us off his back, but he said it: "We're looking at it seriously. Sooner or later we'll have to replace the 407 Coupe."

But for now the SR1's number one job is to show that Peugeot is shifting its general design direction, and some of these lines and shapes will make their way across the range.

Sure enough, a few yards away, there's the ‘5 by Peugeot' concept, a largely undisguised model of the 407 replacement. Which will be called 508. It has a SR1-ish nose. So it's farewell then to the smeared-upwards headlamps and slack-jawed grille of the current Peugeots. Shed no tears.

Peugeot's sister company Citroen has transformed its design these past few years. And now former Citroen design chief Jean-Pierre Ploué is shapes boss for both brands. He says it's now Peugeot's turn to move forward. But Peugeots will differ from Citroens, he says. "Citroen is about surprise. Peugeot is athleticism and precision and elegance."

Peugeot's design head, Gilles Vidal, did the SR1 and he says this new language is about reflecting the precision in how a Pug drives (well, the best of them do).

Like any self-respecting concept at Geneva, it's a eco-sports car. The engine is the 1.6 turbo we know well, but hopped up to 218bhp, driving the front wheels. The rear wheels get their own electric drive - that's the same Hybrid4 principle Pug has announced for the 3008 in 2011, and Citroen in the DS High Rider concept. In the SR1 the engine and motor combine for 313bhp and four-wheel drive.

Paul Horrell, Consultant Editor of Top Gear magazine

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