Style and performance. They are the two elements that merge in an unprecedented way 9X8recently hit the track in Monza for his debut in World endurance, which has sharp lines and lacks the back wing, a solution that was presented with the concept and remained in the final version. Drawing it, along with the Peugeot Sport designers, was it Matthias Hossannresponsible for the design of the Lion’s cars, which also shaped 408. “We were looking for something other than our competitors that would combine great efficiency with a new option for the car,” explains Hossann, “and I think we have achieved that. The dynamics and efficiency are clear now that we have seen it. move through the curves ”.
What role can design play in motorsport?
Usually race cars are very performing, but almost all the same, without a defined style. Thanks to the new LMH rules, on the other hand, we could be freer to design this hypercar from scratch, and we wanted to add many elements of the Peugeot style today and above all tomorrow. For example, the 9X8’s luminous front claws are similar to those of our production cars and stand out a lot in the race. We were looking for something iconic, we wanted to change conventions: a choice like not having a rear wing was a good bet on aerodynamics, but together with the engineers we found the solution to also guarantee performance.
With emission regulations and the need to limit the range of electric, efficiency is increasingly crucial. How much does this affect the design?
This is a major challenge we face. With 408 we have the example of what we call cat ears, aerodynamic pendants above the rear window. Not just a design brand, but they have an aerodynamic reason and represent an answer to the need for space in the back of the car. We try to integrate commitments into the project, “play with them” to find appropriate solutions to translate them into style options. And there is still a lot that can be done with design to make cars more efficient.
Does not the need for efficiency risk making all cars more equal?
There are many ways to get it: to have thin, tapered shapes, but there are also sharper ones. Let us e.g. think about how edgy a Eurofighter jet is. I think there is room for many solutions. We really like the contrasts between the soft surfaces and the super sharp lines and that is a language we will use in the next models.
With the 408 you have started on the fastback road: Is there a bit of SUV fatigue?
After launch of 508, we wondered how we could develop the concept of the sedan without getting too close to SUVs. Sports equipment is still highly regarded, but we think there is room for something else, which is simply a raised sedan, which has the same wheel diameter as an SUV like the 3008 and the same raised position, with a slimmer silhouette. . Here the 408 was born.
Today, even for the choice of multi-energy platforms, you have electrical models that are the same as the thermal versions. Do you think a style that is too breaking for an electric one can attract customers less?
We have a story, a DNA, and we try not to forget it, but we also try not to be conservative, to play with our past. Without falling into retro design, we always want to have a connection with what we have made. Today, people are definitely looking for new experiences, and I think for us designers, this is an opportunity to create new shapes that are disturbing enough to look different, albeit with a taste that reminds us of what we have been. It is a very subtle balance to find. We did it with 9X8 and 408, which tells a little about how the next Peugeots will be, also the electric ones.
And what do the next Peugeots look like?
For me, the real challenge becomes decor. With electric cars, we have fewer boundaries and more interior space to imagine. We want to go even further with the i-Cockpit concept, which gives a different feel to those sitting in a Peugeot. We also work hard on materials to choose increasingly sustainable solutions. The revolution we are experiencing, from an energy and technological point of view, is extraordinary for design, it opens up many new possibilities. And design has always been one of the cornerstones of our brand.