Rotating phlegmatically beneath an immodest #UnboringTheFuture banner at the Paris Motor Show, Peugeot’s e-Legend Concept might be my favorite of all the electric concept cars I’ve seen this week. Its design is inspired by the classic Peugeot 504 coupe, with a more aggressive styling that reminds me of Ford’s latest Mustang GT. But beneath that old-school muscular look is a fully autonomous, connected, all-electric vehicle. It’s a car that looks to the future without devaluing the brand’s past, and I love the result.
Peugeot’s premise with the e-Legend is that you shouldn’t have to compromise on anything. The car has four driving modes, with the two autonomous ones seeing the steering wheel retract into the dashboard and opening up access to a 49-inch curved widescreen display. The Soft mode would reduce distractions and disturbances to a minimum, while the Sharp option would be a nightmare scenario of “maximum connection to your digital activity” like social networks. When you do want to drive, Legend mode would be your default, with a Boost mode turning up the driving excitement.
Switching driving modes, opening and closing the electrical doors, and controlling music would be done with — you guessed it — a voice assistant tailored for autonomous driving. A version of this assistant, Peugeot says, will be making its way to production vehicles from the company within the next two years.
Fellow French company Focal has partnered with Peugeot on the integrated sound system of the e-Legend Concept. That includes neat audio zoning features like sending navigation instructions only to the driver and creating an “audio bubble” for each passenger. So we can be aloof and distant even within the enclosed space of a car. In another patriotic collaboration, Peugeot has even had Parisian parfumerie Ex Nihilo develop two custom scents for the e-Legend Concept. Alas, I wasn’t able to get inside the show car at the Paris Motor Show to be able to report on exactly how immersive those fragrances are.
I’m not thrilled about the e-Legend’s interior. The steering wheel has been made unnecessarily angular — there’s a stubborn habit among industrial designers of making future things blocky — and every flat surface seems to have been slapped with a display. In total, Peugeot says there are 16 screens inside the e-Legend, including 29-inchers in the doors and a 12-inch screen in each sunshade. This sort of excess will surely delight a company like Nvidia, which will gleefully provide chips to power as many screens as a carmaker can cram inside its car, but I don’t see the benefit from a user perspective.
In terms of road-going capabilities, the Peugeot e-Legend is built around a fully electric drivetrain that delivers 340kW to the four wheels and gets it from 0–100 km/h in under four seconds. Peugeot promises a 370-mile (600km) range, and fast charging will let you top up more than 80 percent of that in 25 minutes. Inductive charging would also be an option.
For all of its technical promises, some of which are obviously still speculative, the thing that excites me most about the e-Legend is its exterior design. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of the thrilling car chases I’ve seen in the movies, but the look of this electric vehicle definitely lives up to Peugeot’s bold claim that “boring” isn’t in its DNA. Whether you take the wheel or let it drive itself, a car like this would look awesome under all circumstances. And that’s important.
Photography by Vlad Savov / The Verge