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SR1 to sire suave Peugeots

Shut your mouth: The Peugeot SR1 Concept signals the end of the gaping-grille styling era at Peugeot.

Peugeot reinvents itself with a new look and a redesigned logo

12 Jan 2010

FRENCH car-maker Peugeot is kicking off the new decade – as well as the bi-centenary celebrations of the company that was founded in 1810 as a steel foundry – with a fresh design direction and a new-look logo.

Spearheaded by the SR1 Concept that is to debut at the Geneva motor show in March, it signals a return to the elegance of the Pininfarina-era Peugeots from the 1950s to the late 1990s.

However, the company is quick to add that all future vehicles for the time being will be designed in-house.

Peugeot has chosen to communicate its new styling direction on the eve of a fresh-model offensive that will include at least 14 releases between now and the end of 2012. The aim is to move PSA Peugeot Citroen up from tenth to seventh spot in global sales by 2015.

“In order to achieve this goal, Peugeot is relying on a new product strategy, new style lines, new technology and a new visual identity,” the company states.

The SR1 represents an almost complete departure from the big mouthed, fussy lines and brash details of the current range of Peugeots such as the 308 and 407 Coupe.

According to PSA design boss Jean-Pierre Ploue – the person who was put in charge of the group’s styling after successfully reignited Citroen’s floundering design language over the past decade with models such as the C4 – elegance and finesse are back in vogue at Peugeot.

23 center imageModels from yesteryear cited as influences for future Peugeots will include the 205 (1983 to 1997) and 406 Coupe (1996 to 2004). Both were the work of Pininfarina although the company claims the former was simply overseen by the Italian design master.

“We think of it as a renewal of the brand, not a break with the past. We’re aiming to continue the Peugeot values you saw in our iconic models like the 205 and 406 Coupe. They had the elegance we want to capture again,” he recently told England’s Autocar magazine, adding that the company is rediscovering the old cars’ “Latin spirit”.

Mr Ploue said the SR1’s three-seater hybrid roadster visage was chosen to embody a range of future stylistic directions Peugeot is experimenting with, but without actually giving away the look of any single model that is in the pipeline – such as the successor to the 407 (next year’s 408) as well as the 207 replacement (208 due in 2012).

Nevertheless, elements of the SR1 concept’s nose will probably be visible on the 208 as the company abandons the controversial gaping-mouth look that has come to symbolise the brand since the 407 debuted in 2003.

“The SR1 is a vehicle with ideal proportions, revisiting the great traditions of grand touring cars of the past: a large bonnet, flowing wings and a very low centre of gravity,” Peugeot says.

“The design of the body gives the car a new balance: a sculpted bonnet, sweeping sides and a chiselled rear design.”

Reporting to Mr Ploue is new Citroen chief designer Thierry Metroz while Gilles Vidal now heads Peugeot design.

Under the roadster’s taut skin is Peugeot’s new “HYbrid4” technology, due in the 3008 crossover vehicle in Europe next year.

The SR1 uses a 160kW 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine that delivers a maximum power output of 230kW when combined with a 70kW electric motor. The former drives the front wheels while the latter takes care of the rear ones - for front, rear or all-wheel drive as desired.

With the ability to be a Zero Emission Vehicle when running on the electric motor only, the SR1 in the combined cycle returns 4.9 litres per 100 kilometres and as little as 119 grams per kilometre of carbon dioxide pollution.

The rigid structure consists of a one-piece body and a tubular chassis on to which the mechanical components and suspension are mounted. Four-wheel wishbone suspension is part of the SR1 concept’s specification, as is four-wheel steering.

Inside the luxury presentation includes old-time wood alongside advanced materials like crystal gauges, nickel and satin-finished chrome, while Swiss watchmakers Bell and Ross have created a timepiece that slots into the fascia.

In 1810, company founders Jean-Pierre and Jean-Frédéric Peugeot turned their father’s cereal mill into a steel foundry, kicking off an industrial era that saw the firm move into tools, coffee grinders, bicycles, motorcycles and finally automobiles.

“This new chapter in the Peugeot story is about to open with a further evolution of the brand including a new styling direction, a new corporate Lion badge and a new signature Peugeot, MOTION & EMOTION,” Peugeot says.

The first model to wear the restyled badge will be the RCZ coupe due towards the end of this year.

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