Overview: Peugeot HR1

Peugeot’s HR1 made its first public appearance at this year’s Paris motor show. It is a small concept car whose main significance is that it is the fourth application so far of Peugeot’s Hybrid4 drivetrain system, which uses a conventional engine in the nose — driving the front wheels, as usual — and an electric motor at the back, driving the rear wheels. As Hybrid4 is a series-parallel architecture, the result is a car that can be driven by its front wheels, by its rear wheels, or by all four wheels, depending on the circumstances.

The HR1’s power-unit is a new three-cylinder 1.2-litre THP petrol engine, directly fuelled and turbocharged. Effectively three-quarters of the 1598cc Peugeot-BMW EP6DT unit, it has two chain-driven overhead camshafts, with continuously variable timing on the inlet shaft. Block and head are of light alloy. The unit is one of a family of three-cylinder engines currently under development: expect a smaller petrol power-plant and a diesel.

At the back, the electric drive module is the same as that found on the 3008, RCZ and — soon — the 508. The motor is rated at a continuous 27PS, with a peak of 37PS; torque is a steady 100Nm, with 200Nm available in short bursts. With the two drivetrains working together, a combined peak of 147PS is available.

Leaving the hybrid system to its own devices, the HR1 returns 80.7mpg overall on the NEDC rolling-road test. This corresponds to a CO2 yield of 80g/km.

The Peugeot Hybrid4 system is unique (so far) in separating electric and conventional drivetrains. It is also unique in having a conventional single-clutch mechanical gearbox, though it is operated electronically and with a fully automated mode. Clearly, the gearbox is attached solely to the internal combustion engine and drives only the front wheels; but the transmission’s activities, along with the operation of the combustion engine, are ‘known’ to the electric drivetrain by way of the controller that oversees the overall operation of the hybrid system. This coordination of the two systems allows the rear electric drive to increase its torque output during gearchanges, smoothing progress.

As to the rest of the car, the HR1 is essentially a two-seater — token rear seats are fitted — to which the occupants gain access by way of two electric gull-wing doors. At the rear, roof bars serve as a hinge for opening the one-piece, smoked-glass tailgate.

The HR1’s running-gear is wholly conventional, with McPherson struts locating the front wheels and a torsion-beam set-up at the rear.

Inside, Peugeot has deployed novel controls that make use of hand-movements to operate what the Company calls the ‘manmachine interface’. The The movement recognition system allows the driver to scroll through functions and select available settings using hand-movements without any physical contact with switchgear: for example, by rotating his hand the user can scroll menus, displayed in the manner of a carousel. The driver can also choose to hand over control of the menus to the front passenger, with a sweep of the hand from left to right. The technology controlled by this method includes the audio, satellite navigation and air conditioning systems. The driver can also select, at his discretion, the preferred type of information to be displayed in the instrument panel: rev counter, coolant and oil temperature during ‘dynamic driving’, or tourist information when ‘cruising’. The front passenger, meanwhile, benefits from a mobile PC tablet which allows data to be shared and exchanged with the driver’s display.

At this stage, we fail to to see any advantage to the hand-waving control system, clever though it certainly is. If the driver’s hand-movements connect with switchgear, there is, to say the least, a much lower chance of embarrassing misunderstandings between the driver and the car. Voice commands combined with well-designed physical and selective touch-screen switchgear still represent the way forward, despite the obvious problems associated with both technologies — not least that switchgear designers frequently pay more attention to style than to function.

Cylinders 3I
Valves 4
Swept volume 1197cc
Block/head material A/A
Fuel/injection P/d
Aspiration T
Boost (bar/kPa) 0.8/80
ratio (volume)
PS/rpm 110/5800 *
Nm/rpm 195/1400 *
Electric motor
— type
Synchronous, permanent magnets
Electric motor PS

Electric motor Nm

PS combined
Combined MPG
CO2 g/km 80
E.V. range 1.5 miles
Transmission AM6
Driven wheels Engine: front
Electric motor: rear
Fuel tank 41l
Kerb mass 1130
Length 3694
Width 1755
Height 1492
Wheelbase 2311
Track: front
Track: rear
Tyres 225/45x19"
* Engine speeds provisional.
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