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Frankfurt show: Peugeot reveals sleek hybrid concept

Pugnatious: French car-maker Peugeot is using diesel-electric hybrid technology and new aerodynamic tricks to fight the environmental battle.

HX1 concept redefines the MPV as Peugeot prepares to launch 508 RXH in Oz

Peugeot logo29 Aug 2011

By DAVID HASSALL

PEUGEOT will spotlight its diesel-electric hybrid technology at the Frankfurt motor show later this month by revealing a sleek concept that blends a wagon and a people-mover.

The French car-maker will also present a production 508 RXH that is bound for Australia and a hybrid version of its Le Mans-winning 908 diesel race car at the German show, which opens with the first of two press days on September 13.

Peugeot Automobiles Australia is committed to introducing hybrid models to showcase its “environmental leadership” technology, regardless of their limited market potential here, starting with the 3008 Hybrid4 that will also be shown at Frankfurt ahead of an Australian launch in the second quarter of 2012.

While the mid-size 508 RXH wagon is close to release – it is scheduled for the European spring next year – most interest at Frankfurt will inevitably surround the pillarless HX1 concept car.

Official photos released this week reveal a Mercedes R-class-style people mover with an even lower roofline, making it more like a wagon with rear-hinged back doors that open in a scissor motion. The front doors also open vertically, but are hinged from the front at the A-pillars.

23 center imageLeft: Peugeot HX1 concept. Below: 508 RXH, 908, RCZ Asphalt.

Peugeot’s stylists concentrated on aerodynamics and boast a number of innovations such as “many mobile aerodynamic parts that were designed with speed in mind”, resulting in a vehicle that is very low (1373mm), very wide (1990mm) and very long (4930mm), with a coefficient of drag figure of just 0.28.

Apparently side skirts and a rear spoiler automatically deploy at speeds of more than 100km/h.

One of the more interesting features is the seven-spoke wheel design, which features blades that expand at speed to produce the effect of solid aero wheels.

Peugeot said the low-slung HX1 has been produced to gauge market interest in the concept of a vehicle that can “seat up to six people in a vehicle with unconventional styling” and “a high-end passenger compartment”.

Curiously, Peugeot describes the concept as seating six people in a 4+2 seating arrangement, but even the photos do not reveal exactly what this entails, but we understand there is a second row of two seats that fold out from the front seatbacks when required.

The company also claims the driver’s seating position “can be adapted to suit driving conditions”.

Although Peugeot’s regular production Hybrid4 powertrain involves linking a 120kW 2.0-litre diesel engine driving the front wheels with a 27kW electric motor on the rear axle for a combined 147kW of power, the HX1 concept employs a 2.2-litre diesel in the hybrid powertrain for a combined 220kW.

And, with a new “plug-in” function that provides up to 30km of all-electric operation, the HX1 makes considerable gains in efficiency.

While the production 508 RXH boasts an already impressive fuel consumption figure of 4.0 litres per 100km and emissions of 109 grams per kilometre, the HX1 concept’s plug-in feature knocks those figures down to 3.2L/100km and 83g/km.

The same production hybrid powertrain in the forthcoming 3008 Hybrid4 crossover wagon – claimed to be the first diesel-electric hybrid available in the world – produces figures of 3.8L/100km and 99g/km, which is said to be 35 per cent lower than for a regular vehicle with a internal combustion engine of similar power.

Due for release in Australia in the second quarter of next year – two years after the June 2010 launch of the regular 3008 wagon range here – the 3008 Hybrid4 will be priced at the top of the range, which currently peaks at $42,990 for the 2.0-litre XTE model.

Peugeot regards the forthcoming 508 RXH as a completely separate model from the new 508 range, which was launched locally in July this year.

To be available in a single specification, the RXH sports flared guard extensions to accentuate its four-wheel drive, 18-inch wheels, a revised front-end treatment with daytime running lights and an off-road-inspired front lip, and a new exclusive body colour.

Finally, Peugeot is also showing a limited-edition version of the RCZ sports coupe called the ‘Asphalt’, which features matt grey paint and two-tone 19-inch wheels. However, unlike the standard RCZ, the turbo-diesel Asphalt edition is not destined for Australian release.

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