Peugeot hints at its next big saloon

Peugeot has released the first pictures of its new concept car, the "5 by Peugeot". That looks like a heavy hint that this is a thinly disguised version of a forthcoming 508 saloon that might replace today's 407 and 607.

While concept cars often help manufacturers to explore their wilder flights of fancy, showing us only in the most general terms what future products will look like, the 5 by Peugeot looks like a tight, almost production-ready design that wouldn't look out of place on sales reps' driveways today. Peugeot fans will be relieved to see that the new car is also bit of a looker, one that shakes off the heavy, awkward styling of the French manufacturer's recent models and rediscovers some of the zing of old favourites such as the 405.

Until recently, Peugeot had neglected the fifth rung of its model range ladder for many years; the popular 505, which followed in the tracks of the legendary 1968 504, died without replacement in 1992. When the company introduced the new 5008 people carrier, it made quite a bit of fuss about moving back into this market territory; now we know that there was more to come on the "5" front.

The powertrain of the 5 by Peugeot is a diesel-electric hybrid arrangement under which the front wheels are powered by a 163 horsepower diesel engine and the rear wheels by a 37 horsepower electric engine, a set-up called HYbrid4 that allows the car to be driven economically on electric power at low speeds but which can also provide a total of two hundred horsepower and four-wheel drive under more demanding conditions.

We already know that something very like this arrangement will be available in the 3008 in 2011, but it's not clear whether any production version of 5 by Peugeot – or 508 – will use it.

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