In the minds of millions worldwide, Paris in the spring is a match made in heaven. However, it’s March 2023, and the French are embittered at the rise of the retirement age, the streets throng with the masses of malcontents, the poubelles overflow due to a sanitation strike and the streets heave as the Metro suffers another strike. So, that’s broken glass, a sea of brake lights and a smell that, well, I’ll leave it at that. Not the most salubrious of surroundings for the latest of my product launches.
This, however, beats a different drum and walks a different path. This is the Peugeot Inception Concept, and a design study collaboration with newcomer Paris brand 3.PARADIS.
Down a Paris side street sits an ex-industrial unit housing an open vaulted studio space. First walk-in unveils the concept car in all her glory, and most notably, her size. This is no shrinking violet, but rather an instantaneously captivating creation. As a test bed and showcase for the thoughts, designs and ethos of the brand’s future, the car houses so many special features that even with an hour to walk around, I probably missed double digits worth of features. Externally, the headline pieces are the Jenson Interceptor levels of glass usage. The front screen comes from a high roofline all the way to the bumper line at the front, and when viewed from the cabin, the sense of light and space that it brings is almost ethereal. Admittedly, that could have been the lighting and lack of breakfast, but it’s difficult to deny that this car is very much next generation, in both form and function combined.
Concept reveals sometimes revel in exactly that: the concept. With the direction that much of the automotive realm seems to be heading, i.e., headlong and kamikaze into the realms of autonomous driving and a more ambience-driven experience, rather than a ‘driven’ driven experience. In the InceptionConcept form, one can picture the serenity that all that could in theory bring.
Aero wheels and a tiny drag coefficient, alongside that picture window glass, would provide as calm a journey as one could wish for. The interior materials are again a mix of the traditional and contemporary, but are fused together in imaginative ways. Examples would include the almost crushed velvet upholstery sitting alongside the raw metal of some of the interior shell, the one almost mimicking the other in all but feel. The driver zone again nods to the traditional; steering wheel et al. However, at the touch of a button, the entire binnacle collapses and slides away into the vast dash area, unveiling a 48” cinemascape screen that could provide an array of options to the occupants. An enhanced vision of the road head perhaps, or an ambient scene to augment the external environment. Even Netflix and, well, chill. Rear passengers can access driving data through rear information screens before relaxing, slung back in two sculpted seats, heads caressed by expandable and collapsible cells; a new idea from the engineering team eager to utilise the most progressive of forms and feels. The material choices are, once more, of the forward-thinking kind. Reusing textile offcuts to forge into new solid pieces showcases another path of innovation that Peugeot is keen to exploit.
Brand identity remains a cornerstone, of course. The signature three-claw lighting strip that marks out the brand remains. As a concept, however, it is very much more about tomorrow than today, and that’s no bad thing, but perhaps also no easy task. That the focus is on the occupant’s journey and autonomous driving modes gives an indication where the market could end up going. The use of materials and the design language employed – a kind of Tesla Cybertruck with some soul – is something that can be utilised and seen through the brand offerings in the future, regardless of whether that be autonomous journeys or the more traditional notion of ‘get out and drive’.
My opinion? If the future brings more low slung, pillarless, suicide doored behemoths, I’m all for it.