THE LION ROARS (SILENTLY)
A painfully desirable Peugeot – when was the last time that happened? The queue to buy an e-Legend starts just behind Colin Overland
PEUGEOT’S NEW E-LEGEND Concept is an electric, autonomous show star inspired by the 1968 504 Coupe. It shows what a 2025 production Peugeot could look like and what features it could offer. There’s the connectivity and big-screen infotainment typical of show cars, but there’s also a much greater emphasis on dynamism and desirability than has been the case with recent Peugeots.
It’s an electric, autonomous concept car designed to appeal to car enthusiasts – mission accomplished, we’d say.
Overall dimensions are close to the new 508’s – the concept is slightly lower and shorter – and the wheels are a plausible 19 inches in diameter. It’s a two-door four-seater with frameless windows and a glasshouse that closely resembles the classic 504’s. The elegantly concave flanks blend into muscular wheelarches, while at the front and rear the LEDs are styled like claw marks. There’s also a grille and some strong vertical air inlets, giving the e-Legend much more of a ‘face’ than many electric concepts.
Matthias Houssan, concept car design manager, says: ‘We tried to keep some realism – the size of the wheels, the size of the glasshouse, which is not small like some concept cars, which are like caricatures.’
The 100kWh battery is in the floor, with electric motors driving all four wheels. While stressing that this is a concept, not a prototype, Peugeot claims 456bhp and 590lb ft of torque, with a top speed close to 140mph and a 0-62mph time below four seconds. Range would be around 370 miles – and a fast charge could get you 310 miles of range in just 25 minutes. It would also be equipped for inductive charging.
The interior is every bit as striking as the body, mixing brash blue with dark wood and bronze, plus a giant screen and a retractable steering wheel and pedalbox for when the e-Legend is running autonomously. The concept’s four seats have blue velvet upholstery, with the driver’s seat also supporting the centre console, which follows the same angular thinking as Peugeot’s current production i-Cockpit.
e-Legend has two autonomous modes: Soft, for chilled-out cruising with the screen minimised, and Sharp for those wanting to work or be entertained on the move. It also incorporates voice activation for use during autonomous driving, with the trigger phrase ‘Okay Peugeot’. A version of the personal assistant will appear on production Peugeots within two years.
There are also two manual modes: Legend, which swivels three 504 Coupe-style dials into action and adds digital wood to the real wood, and Boost, which projects the road ahead on the 49-inch screen, turning the car – rather confusingly – into a giant simulator of the real world that’s happening outside at that very moment. The cabin changes will be accompanied by dynamic changes to the suspension and power characteristics.
Houssan: ‘When driving is boring, you will be in autonomous mode. But when you want to drive you want the experience to be intense and exciting.’
Although it’s firmly a concept, it’s a runner… albeit at walking pace. The concept has a motor in the back, driving the rear wheels. CAR had a passenger ride, and found the ambience to be superb. Will it go into production? It’s certain to inform whatever Peugeot does next, whether that’s fully electric or not. Insiders say five to seven years is a realistic target date for an all-electric production car. Peugeot is aiming for the mass market rather than the early adopter.
This isn’t Peugeot’s first electric concept. Recent show cars have included the 2015 Fractal urban electric coupe (which previewed i-Cockpit) and the 2017 Instinct (a shooting brake that debuted many of the new 508’s design features).
What’s different this time is the embrace of Peugeot’s own heritage to produce a gorgeous car that would look in place on today’s roads. Peugeot CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato speaks of the e-Legend embodying an ‘optimistic and ultra-desirable future’.