After a frustrating decade building gormless blobs, Peugeot is back in a big way. Beyond its current range of ever-improving hatchbacks and four-wheel drives, the French brand has demonstrated a desire to keep moving the game forward with its show cars. The latest is the Instinct, an aggressive look at a fast-approaching autonomous future.
Although the Geneva Motor Show is just around the corner, Peugeot has chosen Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to launch its latest concept. Power comes from a hybrid powertrain with 296 hp (221 kW) on tap, but drivers can choose whether they actually want to control it themselves using the 9.7-inch i-Device in the center console.
When the driver does hand over control, the car is able to adjust its behaviour to match the driver's mood and schedule. Peugeot suggests it could switch to soothing Autonomous Soft mode after the driver has been at the gym, although that function would also be welcome after a big night out. Once synced up with the owner's diary, it's able to warn them of any delays caused by traffic or weather, giving a suggested departure time for their upcoming appointments.
Given its focus on autonomous driving, it's no surprise the Instinct has an interior aimed at making the driver feel comfortable without the wheel in their hands. The seat base, back and headrest can all be adjusted individually for seating positions ranging from upright and alert to fully reclined. There's no need to sit up and fiddle with the central touchscreen in autonomous mode, either, thanks to a virtual assistant capable of online purchases on the fly.
The interior also looks fantastic. Peugeot has made huge strides in cabin quality and design with its production i-Cockpit and i-Cockpit 2.0, but its latest concept takes the same basic cues and ramps them up to 11. Along with the display directly in front of the driver, the giant screen on the passenger side changes focus depending on what mode the car is in. That means it can display directions or infotainment detail when the driver is in control, but switch to a more autonomy-friendly movie screen if the occasion demands it.
It is, however, overshadowed by the stunning shooting brake exterior treatment. With a low roofline and swollen rear haunches, its shape is reminiscent of the (sadly defunct) Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake, albeit with more angular lines to fit the current Peugeot signature look. The headlights both contain cameras to support autonomous driving, while the claw-like tail lights are styled that way because, well, it looks really cool. Finished in blue, the car is sure to be a show stopper.
The Peugeot Instinct was unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and will be on show at the Geneva Motor Show in March. New Atlas will be on the ground, so stay tuned for all the latest.