A good concept car should be imaginative while being realistically indicative of where automobile design and tech is going. It should showcase features that not only awes but makes practical sense in-car, and it should appeal to consumers outside the automotive enthusiast circle. In that light, if the Peugeot Fractal is any indicator of what the urban runabout will be like in the future, we’re very excited.
Billed as an “urban coupe”, the Fractal is a 2+2 electric sports car with a removable hardtop. At around 12.5 feet long it’s small, about the size of a MINI Cooper in fact — but rather than having the proportions of a city-oriented hatchback, it has the long hood and short rear more akin to a classic roadster. But the Fractal is anything but classic. It’s said to be powered by a 40kWh lithium ion battery powering two electric engines on the front and rear axels, creating a total 204 horsepower with an overall range of 280 miles on a single charge. It has adjustable suspension, too. At high speeds it’s hunkered down for better handling, but in the city can raise up to four centimeters to ease the stress of driving over potholes and speed bumps.
But it’s the interior of the Fractal — what Peugeot dubbed the “i-cockpit” — that’s promising in regards to where automotive design could be headed. Just over 80 percent of the interior surface and trim pieces were created via 3D printing, and while that may sound like a gimmick, it helped the designers create interior pieces that were too complex to make by traditional methods. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the floor wells and door panels, which are covered in a material reminiscent of the sound-absorbing walls found in auditoriums and recording studios.
This is no coincidence. The surfaces are designed to absorb unwanted noises in the cabin to improve the sound clarity of the Fractal’s 13-speaker stereo system from French high-end audio company Focal. Sound is a big theme in the Fractal’s interior, which is further amplified by Peugeot’s partnership with SubPac, a startup company that produces “tactile bass systems”. The application in the Fractal is essentially a set of speakers in the seats that transfer low-frequency sound vibrations into the bodies of the car’s occupants. If that isn’t enough to please the car-loving audiophile, Brazilian composer, producer and sound engineer Amon Tobin worked as a consultant on the project.
The Fractal will officially debut at Frankfurt later this month. While it’s just a concept at this time, if Peugeot’s interior innovations in the Fractal make it on to future cars, the future looks bright for both car and music lovers alike.