TG’s guide to concepts: the Peugeot Onyx

It’s made from copper, papier mache and felt, by Peugeot. And it’s chuffing fast. Er, what?

Concept cars really aren’t like regular road cars. Hardly a revelatory insight, you might think.

But it’s almost always true –  concept cars are generally not made to keep out the elements or move more than a couple of feet under their own power. They’re show pieces; the equivalent of Michelangelo’s David on a trolley jack – they look impressive, they move briefly and, if done well, they stick in your head for a long time.

The Peugeot Onyx is… different.


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How is it different?

Headlines first, then, shall we? How about a 3.7-litre, 600bhp V8 diesel, pinched from Peugeot’s 908 Le Mans car? Suffice to say that it’s enough to get the Onyx up on a plinth at Villa d’Este.

The sequential manual gearbox is also lifted from the 908, which means that driving the Onyx is rather like driving any modern top-tier race car: chuffing difficult to get to grips with, then wonderfully simpatico once you’ve got the hang of it.


There’s a lot of internet expert going on there. How could you possibly know how it drives?

We’re so glad you asked. We drove the Onyx, before it went on the stand at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show.

Needless to say, we were fairly gentle with it, given its date in Geneva, but we came away entirely impressed – and not just by its performance.


You jammy buggers.

Yes, quite.

But it’s not all driving concept cars and powersliding TVRs; sometimes we also go to the pub and try to find things to talk about that aren’t concept cars or TVRs. So far, topics have included “My, it’s crowded,” “Look at that man’s ridiculous trousers” and “Is it my round?”

Erm… can we get back to the subject at hand, please? Such as those lairy orange body panels?

Indeed. Those body panels are, in fact, made from solid copper. And we think they look absolutely amazing. The idea is that they oxidise over time, forming a wonderful patina that’s unique to each car. Except there’s only one car. Because it’s a concept.

Don’t fret about the weight gains of using so much copper, though – the chassis is made from carbon fibre and weighs just 100kg. In fact, the whole car weighs just 1100kg – frankly incredible, given the size and scope of the thing.


What about inside? Do the oddball materials continue on in there?

You’d better believe it.

The dashboard is made from recycled paper – but none of this ‘pulp and process’ nonsense; it’s made from compressed newspapers, like a kind of high-tech papier mache. This is a fantastic idea in our book – we’re happy to go without the dull expanses of black plastic that adorn almost all new cars and move on to a more interesting – and possibly environmentally sounder – material.


What else is there?

Okay, how about the felt that covers every conceivable inch of the interior, barring the bits that are already occupied by carbon fibre and leftover copies of yesterday’s news? Felt – the product of boiled wool – is a natural absorber of sound and vibration (and sweat), which leaves us to wonder why it’s not used more in car interiors.

Yes, we’re advocating the use of wool, copper and newspapers in our cars. Fetch us our slippers and briarwood pipes, won’t you?


Hit me with some facts.

Here’s a bite-sized fact – the 3.7-litre V8 isn’t tuned for road use, so it needs a brace of engineers and a special fluid warmer just to get it to turn over at all.

And another – the concept steering wheel is ornamental (perhaps the only part of the Onyx that is) so to drive it, you need to attach the steering wheel from the 908 Le Mans car.

Oh, and the glass isn’t glass – it’s a special type of shatterproof plastic called polymethylmethacrylate.


Isn’t that the stuff that Walter White cooked?

Funny stuff.

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