"The energy transition will not erase 120 years of automobile history." So says Peugeot in introducing the e-Legend concept, a high-level technological showcase wrapped inside a classically inspired shell. Instead of going completely ground up with its new concept, Peugeot reimagines its 504 Coupe as a fully electric, fully autonomous car, making the point that the new era of electrification and autonomy doesn't have to mean lifeless robotic eggs. The retro-modern e-Legend arrives loaded with contemporary and future technologies like a 456-hp electric powertrain, 16-display infotainment system and voice-activated personal assistant.
We've always found electrified classics like the Zelectric VW bus or Renovo Shelby rather endearing, and Peugeot seems to agree that one of the best ways to highlight the future is with the past, injecting new technologies into an agelessly recognizable vehicle form. In designing the e-Legend, it reached into its past, pulling cues directly from the 504 Coupe produced from the late 60s until the early 80s. Those familiar with that car will recognize common traits like the scowling face, quad-eye headlights, rear-biased three-box silhouette and angled triple-claw taillights.
Peugeot could have just stuck an electric powertrain into an actual 504, but it chose to reinvent the design as the fully modernized e-Legend. The voluminous fenders, gently recessed sides, 19-in wheels and lighting signature bring the design into the 21st century.
Taking things a little farther into the 21st century are the powertrain, autonomous driving suite and interior technologies. The 456-hp electric drive sends power to all four wheels and gets up to 373 miles (600 km) of range on the WLTP cycle, assuming the 100-kWh battery pack is fully charged. That powertrain develops 590 lb-ft, helping the car whip off the line from 0 to 62 mph in under 4 seconds. Peugeot lists top speed at 137 mph (220 km/h).
In terms of autonomy, Peugeot steps beyond the usual two-sided autonomous/human split, developing four individual driving modes. On the human side, drivers can select from "Legend" and "Boost" modes. The former is designed for relaxed cruising and uses the multi-display cabin array to create a more classic, 504 Coupe-derived experience, complete with a triple-gauge instrument panel ahead of the steering wheel and virtual wood trim displayed on other screens.
"Boost" mode leaves the past behind and takes full advantage of the e-Legend's electric drive, letting the driver fully enjoy the punchy acceleration. Meanwhile, the interior display system shows a projection of the road ahead, helping to further engage the driver.
Once the driver switches full autonomy on, the steering wheel retracts to clear up the full 49 inches (124 cm) of digital display in the dashboard. The front seats recline and armrests deploy to create properly comfy, living room-like recliners and open up an integrated induction charging stations for smartphones. "Soft" mode creates a comfortable interior ambiance in which displays are used minimally, cutting visual clutter to help occupants relax away the ride.
"Sharp" mode is much the opposite, keeping occupants connected with digital information such as social media, scheduling, etc. Whichever mode is selected, the idea is to optimize the interior environment toward using the free time of the commute to its fullest.
The individual driving modes can be selected manually with the protruding driver controller or via simple voice command. The latter is part of the digital personal assistant Peugeot has pulled out of the lab and installed in the e-Legend. Developed in conjunction with Soundhound, the digital assistant recognizes 17 languages and can be used to control everything from entertainment to door opening/closing. Peugeot intends to have a production variant of the assistant ready to go within two years.
Peugeot also worked with another key partner in Focal, which helped perfect the acoustic environment. Discrete sound zones allow each occupant to enjoy personalized audio, without interference from other zones. The related digital mapping technology aims specific audio content to individual zones – for instance, sending navigation instructions to the driver without bleeding into the music or video being enjoyed by passengers in the other zones.
Peugeot steps well beyond the typical central infotainment screen up front and headrest screens at the rear, equipping the e-Legend with a total of 16 displays. Among this sweet 16, there's the main 49-in dashboard display, 29-in displays in the doors and 12-in displays in the sun visors. Along with finding use in entertainment and productivity, the displays show "digital materials," such as the aforementioned wood trim in "Legend" mode. Those digital materials blend with high-end physical materials like silk wool and real Paldao wood. A perfume diffuser pulls the sense of smell in, creating a very distinct ambiance.
Peugeot will host the e-Legend Concept's world premiere at the 2018 Paris Motor Show, which begins next week. You can see more of the concept in the photo gallery and short video clip below.
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