When you think Peugeot, you likely think of quirky yet middle-of the road French cars (or, if you're esoterically-minded, perhaps bicycles, scooters, or even pepper grinders). You don’t usually think of supercars – yet that’s exactly what the French automaker has concocted for this year’s Paris Motor Show.Meet the Peugeot Onyx, a vision of a supercar “sculpted using materials processed as little as possible.”
Although its nose vaguely echoes modern Peugeot design language, the car as a whole looks unlike most production Peugeot models. If anything, its chiseled, square nose, wide rear track, and rounded fenders recall the early 905, Peugeot’s prototype racer launched in the early 1990s. A double-bubble roof – fabricated from polycarbonate – is like that used on the swoopy 308 RCZ, but terminates in a mesmerizing wrap-around grille on the rear deck lid.
There are more than a few unusual highlights to the car’s form. An cowl accent, that wraps into the Onyx’s rear-view mirrors, is made from unpainted carbon fiber, giving a hint to the car’s composite-intensive structure. Copper exterior accents, which start at the front fenders and end just aft of the rear doors, are actually fabricated from copper sheeting. And, in case you forgot just what nation could deliver on oddball design like this, blue, white, and red accents on the tip of each mirror serve as a reminder of the Onyx’s Gallic origins.
The most unusual design work is saved for the interior. Peugeot describes the Onyx cabin as a “one-piece pod,” and it’s not an exaggeration. Every surface – including instrument panel, center console, door panels, headliner, and even seats – seamlessly and organically flow into one another. Every surface is trimmed in a unique woven wool felt, save for trim accents on the dashboard and center console. Those are fashioned from a faux wood composite, made by recycling discarded newspapers (or, perhaps discarded PSA stock certificates). You’d think this one-piece, wrap-around cabin would be a bit claustrophobic, but the vast expanses of glass provide plenty of natural light.
Much like Peugeot’s Quasar and Proxima concepts of the 1980s – which draped exotic sheetmetal atop mechanicals borrowed from the 205 Turbo 16 rally car – the Onyx borrows its mechanicals from a Peugeot race machine. In this case, the driveline – along with most chassis and suspension components – are ripped from the cancelled 908 hybrid, which would have raced at Le Mans had Peugeot not withdrawn from prototype racing. A twin-turbocharged, 3.7-liter diesel V-8 sends its 600 hp to the rear wheels through a six-speed sequential gearbox. A KERS system recovers energy lost in braking, stores it as electricity in lithium-ion batteries, can provide a brief 80-hp boost.
Like the 908 itself, expect the Onyx to go down in history as little more than a stillborn dream. But hey – if an automaker facing a fickle fiscal situation can dream, why not dream big?