Updated: Peugeot Reveals Shark Skinned Exalt Concept

Peugeot has revealed the first images of the Exalt concept, a five-door sedan set to debut at the Beijing auto show later this month. Think of it as a French Audi A7 in a more radical, environmentally efficient package.

Called a ‘design innovator for heightened sensations’, the nearly five meter-long sedan (4700mm) is cloaked in a shark skin-like biomimicry-inspired material, following the approach initiated by the 2012 Onyx concept. As with the copper adorned Onyx, the materials accentuate the distinct line in the bodywork, which is reinterpreted by the association of bare metal and the efficient ‘shark skin’ textile at the rear.

While the metal panels have been hand beaten as homage to the classic French cars of the 20s and 30s, the technical grain structure of the contrasting red colored shark skin textile — in combination with the rear bumper air extractor, curved roof and profiled mirrors — is said to improve the aerodynamic performance of the vehicle.

The front end of the Exalt features a long hood and pronounced grille that provides the backdrop for the doubly symbolic lion, which is both the emblem of the Peugeot brand and an expression of power and prestige in Chinese culture. At the bottom, the flow of air supplying the engine is divided by ‘fins’ carrying the LED direction indicators.

Inside, an array of materials – such as natural wool-based ‘chiné’ mixed fabric, aged leather, and ebony wood – are used to finish the cabin, which features large expanses of exposed metal. Contact points are covered warm-toned wood adorned with a unique design created by Pinwu Design, a China-based design trio known for employing sustainable materials into its Chinese craft-inspired interior design projects.

The Exalt concept also incorporates some interesting technology, such as Peugeot’s i-Cockpit, a black light and a Pure Blue air purifying system — perfect for those poor air quality days. Two folding touch screens are housed in the center console. The upper screen gives access to the car’s computer, audio and navigation systems, while the second screen presents a permanently visible control bar to access the HVAC controls and the Pure Blue system.

The cabin includes nine toggle switches arranged in two groups, two to the left of the small steering wheel, seven to the right. This distribution was adopted because of the human brain’s ability to easily remember up to seven elements, for their position and their function.

“I was inspired by the musical world for this project. Color is a fundamental notion in it,” says interior designer Alessandro Riga. “In the Peugeot i-Cockpit, a digital instrument panel is side by side with toggle switches. The result is pure and timeless.”

As is expected with modern day luxury cars, the sustainability story is also being told in the Peugeot Exalt concept. Locally sourced black ebony wood combines with naturally tanned leather, and basalt fibers — a natural composite — is used instead of carbon fiber.

“Our approach is to have a responsible attitude,” says color and materials designer Sophie Gazeau. “The idea was to finish the car with useful touches and to do it intelligently with the constant objective of optimizing processes to economize on the use of materials and reduce waste.”

In another nod to the environment, the Exalt concept weighs in at just 1700kg and is powered by a plug-in gasoline-electric HYbrid4 drivetrain producing 340bhp.


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