Picking up where it left off with the Onyx Concept, one of our choices for best concepts of 2012, Peugeot has revealed another sporty concept car that gets creative in the materials department. Like the Onyx, the EXALT concept catches the eye with a multi-material body that includes a healthy portion of bare metal.
Demonstrating that less truly can be more, the EXALT sedan establishes a distinct presence with its bare steel bodywork, an homage to the French motor car of the 1920s and 30s. There's no special edition custom paint color or multi-stage application process – just solid industrial steel pounded into shape by a master panel beater. That steel frames a strong torso with a high waistline and muscular sculpting.
The EXALT's face makes an immediate impression thanks to its strong central grille and sharp, sinister eyes set back in the steel bumper. The long, thin lower grille is interrupted only by two fins, which contain the LED turn signals.
The raw steel continues back over the long hood, up the surround of the raked windshield and over a 4.3-foot-high (1.31-m) roof. Prior to hitting the trunk, the steel gives way to a grainy trim that Peugeot calls "Shark Skin." It doesn't explain exactly what the earthy-red material is, but says that it enhances aerodynamics, alongside equipment like the rear air extractor and thin side mirrors. It also completes the artsy two-tone look that recalls the Onyx. The car rides on 20-in bare steel wheels.
Peugeot's obsession with material pairing continues inside the EXALT. A wool-based "chiné" mixed fabric is used as trim for the door panels, dashboard and ceiling. The steel frame remains exposed, but is covered in wood at points where the occupants make contact. The four bucket seats are a mix of composite, aged leather and chiné. Asian-sourced black ebony wood has a lion and bamboo motif, created by a Chinese master craftsman. Basalt fiber serves in place of more commonplace carbon fiber in further accentuating the one-of-a-kind look of the interior.
The EXALT connects with the driver using Peugeot's intuitive i-Cockpit. The i-Cockpit features meticulously placed digital instruments and controls. Two folding touchscreens deploy from the dashboard, the upper dedicated to infotainment and the lower built around settings for the air conditioning and Pure Blue air purifying system.
"I was inspired by the musical world for this project," explains Alessandro Riga, the concept's interior stylist. "Color is a fundamental notion in it. Notes combine together to create a score which is profoundly moving. This is how technology and tradition merge together in EXALT."
Not many cars can pull our attention away from powertrain for that long, but the EXALT's interesting look has managed it. The 340-hp HYbrid4 powertrain combines a front-mounted 270-bhp 1.6-liter THP four-cylinder, a rear-mounted electric motor and a six-speed automatic. It offers three options: pure electric, gas and gas-electric hybrid. Peugeot doesn't provide any specific performance specs.
The EXALT weighs 3,750 lb (1,700 kg) and measures 185 in (4.7 m) from the tip of its steely face to its sharky tail. At both those ends, Peugeot has installed an extra touch of technology. The front headlamps include a black light setting designed to increase visibility in the transitioning light between day and night. Out back, a pantograph mechanism provides generous loading access to the wood-trimmed trunk while limiting the amount of external space taken up.
The EXALT will debut at the Beijing Motor Show later this month.