Retro car of the future: autonomous cars aren’t all boring

PEUGEOT’S E-Legend concept gives hope to car enthusiasts dreading the dawn of a new age of sterile, box-shaped autonomous electric cars.

Unashamedly retro and sporty, it is a homage to the Peugeot 504 coupe and a clear statement from Peugeot that it won’t build boring cars.

While the retractable steering wheel suggests otherwise, the E-Legend is designed to be driven and enjoyed when time and the traffic permits.

The E-Legend concept combines classic lines with cutting edge technology. Picture: Supplied.

Its powerful electric motor puts out 340kW of power and 800Nm of torque, good for a claimed sub four-second sprint to 100km/h and 600km of range when driven sensibly.

While there are no plans to put the E-Legend into full-scale production, Peugeot CEO Jean-Phillipe Imparato told media at the show there would always be room for desirable cars.

“People will always be attracted to a car like that. It embodies our history. It is elegant and has all the features of traditional well-designed French craft,” he said.

The classic lines pay homage to the Peugeot 504. Picture: Supplied.

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Head designer Gilles Vidal said the car offered hope for the future of automotive design.

“The idea is to demonstrate that the future doesn’t need to be especially boring … but can be very emotional, positive and interesting and can even take the shape of a vintage, homage car,” he said.

While the concept car is electric, Imparato indicated that if a production car followed, it would be available with traditional internal combustion engines, as the company has no plans to build a purely electric vehicle model.

“You buy a Peugeot, then you choose your powertrain,” he said.

The concept stole the show at the Paris motor show. Picture: Thibault Camus.

In traffic, the E-Legend’s steering wheel makes way for a 49-inch entertainment screen for watching films or playing video games.

A new-age sound system creates a sound bubble for each occupants, allowing passengers to listen to their own music while the driver listens to navigation instructions or talkback radio.

“The genius of autonomous cars is they will give you back the most precious thing in life, which is time,” Vidal says.

That reclaimed time could be spent catching up on work, browsing for goods online, or even attending to household chores remotely.

The velvet-lined cabin mixes sixties chic with modern tech. Picture: Supplied.

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Despite the cutting edge technology inside, the interior has a retro feel, with turquoise blue velvet seats and wood panelling made from renewable forests. To complete the psychedelic flashback, a perfume dispenser keeps the cabin smelling rosy.

But Vidal says the design is not retro.

“The silhouette is classical but the design language is not at all. And the interior, while the colourful velvet is an obvious hint to the 60s, if you look at the design of the interior beyond the use of the materials themselves it is actually super modern or even oriented to the future.”

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