Peugeot e-LEGEND concept coupé recalls 60s car design in an autonomous electric package

Peugeot e-LEGEND concept coupé recalls 60s car design in an autonomous electric package

The e-LEGEND is an awkward name for a very elegant car. Reasoning – with some justification – that the very future of the car depends on creating objects with a strong emotional charge, Peugeot has chosen to splice its rich design legacy with the very latest automotive technology.

The e-LEGEND is an autonomous electric car; few manufacturers would dare suggest a future that didn’t tick at least one of these two boxes. But where it differs from the script is in its design, which draws heavily on the crisply delineated forms last seen in Peugeots of the late 1960s, 70s and 80s. This was the age of Pininfarina’s close involvement with the French marque, and cars like the 504, 604 and 505 combined finely detailed proportions and simple surfaces.

Render of Peugeot e-LEGEND autonomous electric concept car

The concept is a coupé, another mainstay of design visions due to its glamorous associations. With a simple three box shape, it strongly recalls Pininfarina’s 504 Coupé of 1969, one of the prettiest mass market cars of the decade. The 504 drove almost as well as it looked and it’s this sense of style and occasion that Peugeot is trying to recapture.

Of course, in the modern era it’s no longer about the bio-mechanical connection between brain, hands, steering wheel and road. Cars will soon be capable of doing the driving and electric powertrains have all but banished the idiosyncrasies of internal combustion. Instead, the e-LEGEND has four distinct driving modes, two autonomous (SOFT and SHARP) and two manual, LEGEND and BOOST. The former transforms the wraparound digital dash into a virtual recreation of the original 504’s analogue dials, complete with images of wood grain, whereas the latter makes the most of the electric powertrain’s snappy response.

Reverse render of Peugeot e-LEGEND autonomous electric concept car

Could this concept be built? While mass-market retro design continues to thrive – witness Mini and Fiat – more esoteric retromod visions are prohibitively expensive to translate into commercial reality. Renault’s new Alpine A110 is a rare example of how it can be done. Right now there’s a gap in Peugeot’s line-up for a coupé model – the admirably good-looking 508 range is just crying out for a flagship to join the saloon and estate. Whether the world is quite ready for such a deluge of tech is questionable, but the e-LEGEND’s design would surely be welcomed with open arms. §

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