"This is as close as we have ever been to a concept ready for production.'' Photo Gallery
Peugeot has unveiled a concept that will become the 2008 crossover.
Sombre sales have taken the humour out of Peugeot's face but the struggling company is confident a new SUV will put it back on track.
In Beijing this week, Peugeot unveiled a concept that will - within two years - become its new company face and with hopes it will bring new fortunes to the world's third-oldest carmaker.
The car shown at the Beijing motor show - called Urban Crossover Concept - is intended to be Peugeot's smallest SUV, siting beneath the new Mitsubishi ASX-based 4008 and the bigger, outgoing 4007. But the UCC is the SUV version of the 208 hatchback, only just released to the press in Europe.
Peugeot executive office for marketing - and with a surname that traces unbroken lineage back to the company founders - is Xavier Peugeot. "This is as close as we have ever been to a concept ready for production.'' he tells Carsguide in Beijing. "We won't say when, but it will be soon.
'' Mr Peugeot, who say the company's shaky financial position at the moment is "one of those cycles of the automobile industry'', points to the UCC as having a new look for Peugeot. "Yes, it's different,'' he says. "But the market is led by design. Buyers want style - look at (Range Rover) Evoque.''
Peugeot's director of design, Gilles Vidal, says the concept shown at Beijing was not based on a 208 platform. "It's bigger,'' he says, "but that's because it is a design c oncept.''
"I will not say that the UCC is to be based on the 208. But that is an ideal market.'' The concept has a much smaller, more technical grille and face than the outgoing 4007 or even the latest 4008.
"The 4008 was designed three, maybe four, years ago,'' Vidal says. "Styling has changed since then. The era of the big-grille Peugeots, with the wide mouths, was when customers wanted a sporty, bolder look to their cars.
"This is a very different era. There is more emphasis on environmental issues, more on cars being functional, of being lighter.
"The grille should be the translation of what is behind it. Of the engine. A big grille may mean a big V8, while a smaller grille may be a more environmentally-friendly engine.''
The UCC - or 2008 as it is likely to be tagged - is expected to be shown at the Paris motor show as a pre-production model in September this year.