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This is Peugeot's Fractal concept, and it looks excellent
We hitch a ride in pint-sized sports car concept that previews a very bright future indeed
It’s fair to say Peugeot knows how to build a concept. Witness the Onyx, SR-1, EX1 and RC Prototype. Now there’s this new Fractal concept, an all-electric, compact 2+2 coupe (although the whole roof lifts off) that projects how Peugeots could look, feel and sound in the future.
The one-off design study, scheduled for a Frankfurt Motor Show premiere, is shorter than a 208 supermini at just 3.8m in length, but much lower and wider and with massive 19-inch wheels wrapped in skinny low rolling resistance tyres. It’s a muscular shape for something so small. The front end is an exaggeration of what we’ll see on the new 3008 SUV next year (a fact confirmed by design director Gilles Vidal), while the squat rear end is covered in laser-cut, textured matt-black panels with a spangly, full width LED strip.
On the inside things start to get complicated. The floor, side and door panels are all covered in furry, 3D-printed blocks – much like the protruding mini pyramids you might find on the walls in a recording studio. The idea is to absorb unwanted sounds and improve the clarity of the 12-speaker sound system, complete with a vibrating sub-woofer against your spine. We sampled it and if you’re a fan of being tied to a seven-foot speaker in your local nightclub, you’ll love this.
A fully-digital instrument panel (although not a holographic system like the one here) will appear in a production car “very soon”, according to Vidal - our bets are on next year’s 3008 - while the Fractal’s oval steering wheel and cripplingly-uncomfortable seats will not.
A symphony of sounds for alerting pedestrians of your impending arrival has already been designed (from 2019 all EVs will need to make noises below 30km/h by law), along with a fake ‘exhaust’ note reminiscent of the Starship Enterprise in warp drive. Warp speeds are unlikely though with just 201bhp on tap from a pair of electric motors – one at each axle – fed by a block of lithium-ion batteries forming the spine of the car.
According to Vidal the point isn’t to preview a new 208, or to hint at a new RCZ. It doesn’t pave the way for an EV sports car either. No, the Fractal’s job is to get us excited about the brand’s future. In that case, job done.