The Chinese will be the first to lay eyes on Peugeot’s beautiful new concept car, the Exalt, at the Beijing Auto Show that starts later in the month. Along with great artistic touches inside and out, it’s also a hybrid that can run on gasoline, pure electricity or both. The Exalt is a sedan that anticipates Peugeot’s take on the sedan as a coupe -and it’s another example of a dying brand throwing a “hail mary” pass in the form of an attractive concept car.
The Exalt measures in at just 185 inches long, though it weighs about 3,700 lbs. Its sheetmetal mimics hand-hammered steel plates that were common in luxury cars, most especially French ones, in the 20s and 30s of the last century. There’s also special cloth that supposedly feels like shark skin covering the car’s back haunches.
Inside, Peugeot’s mastery of the beautiful comes completely to the fore. The artful finishing is a mix of ebony, a wool based textile and carbon fiber. Digital screens take the place of the instruments. There’s also a clever system that purifies the air, even when the car is not running.
The car is motivated by Peugeot’s highly regarded 1.6 THP turbo engine, which produces 270 hp in this version. There’s also an electric motor in the back. Put together, the ensemble puffs up the power to 340 hp. Unfortunately, but perhaps in tune with the times, the car is a full 6 speed automatic.
If Peugeot can extend any of these ideas to their production cars, I for one could see them becoming desirable cars again. The brand is slowly clawing their way back with cars like the 208 and 308 – which just won Europe’s Car of the Year award. But just as Citroen has the Cactus, Peugeot needs something like the Exalt to put them back in the imaginations of car buyers.