Peugeot - Asphalte
As if rolling off the pages of a comic book
The Asphalte makes no concession to practicality – it's all about fun. With four wheels originally meant to turn every which way, Asphalte hovers just a few centimetres above the road.
Engineered for sports driving, the Asphalte has a sleek mini-windscren, to protect passengers as they breeze down the motorway.
It's modular, with room for a driver and a passenger, or just the driver – the passenger seat can be hidden. The driver can adjust the steering wheel and pedals to make the interior feel even more like a cockpit.
Intensify the sensations of the road
Although the goal of this concept car was to intensify the sensations of the road while remaining as pure and sober as possible, certain of its technical aspects are worthy of a closer look.
Basically, Asphalt could have been a three wheeler. But its designers chose to add a fourth one in order to enhance performance and reliability, while at the same time maintaining the impression that the vehicle had no back end. Consequently the Asphalt is the only car in the world which when viewed from behind, reveals its four wheels.
As a matter of fact, the wheels are cleverly designed: they are reversible deep - dish style: At the front they are mounted facing out and vice versa at the rear. Consequently they blend in harmoniously with the vehicle.
This radical concept is technically justified because the Asphalt is endowed with massive disk brakes at the front end, which produces a deceleration similar to that of a race car. The wheel, concavity towards the exterior, makes the installation of this equipment possible.
Taking the Automobile Back To Its Roots
After two weeks of fantasising about it in August 1995, engineers and stylists worked round the clock from December 1995 to August 1996 - and the Asphalt concept car was presented at the Paris car show in October 1996. Fast work !
This car's sole ambition was a return to the original imagery of the automobile, and its requirements could not have been more simple: two seats, and rear wheels close together. A smile on its face and a feline look to the headlamps were to characterise the front of the car.
Asphalt is an devilishly simple concept, focused on the pleasure of driving, but at the same time it is completely different from anything else on the road. The idea was to take automobiles back to their roots: a driver, a steering-wheel, wheels and an engine. That's all there was to it. A car conceived to hug the highway, breeze through the landscape, take in the country air.
Speaking design, a raised peak goes from the front emblem to the stop-light, reinforcing the purity of the car's line. The two headlights on each side of this median line form an arrow - synonymous with speed. As for the drivetrain: an accelerator, a brake pedal and an automatic gear-box so the driver needn't deal with gear changes and can concentrate on feeling the road.
It's a very 'automobile' concept, retaining only the most essential elements for the driver. No ignition key: an On and Off button, and that's it. No doors either: you just step into the car, after having lifted off the steering-wheel to facilitate entry. Then you're comfortably seated, in pre-moulded seats.
Admit it - you're starting to fantasise too! Nothing could be more normal. That's what Asphalt was conceived for. We could talk about it for hours ; from the fact that it weighs less than a 2 CV to its 90 PS engine ; that you seat practically level with the road with nothing in your field of vision except the two wings, as if you were riding a bird of prey! No need to say more!
Concerning the team and the methodology, the same procedure as in mass production vehicle: that is engineers, designers and a project leader ; but in the case of the Asphalt, just one of these professionals per category was required.
The driver's compartment was conceived from a single piece. The designer and the engineer proceeded inch by inch till they met in the middle, under the central separation. Then they shook hands and went home.
Engine & performance:
Capacity: 1587 cc
Power: 90 hp
Torque: 135 Nm
Top speed: 200 km/h
0-100 km/h: 9.5 s
Length: 3435 mm
Width: 1780 mm
Height: 1025 mm
Wheelbase: 2300 mm
Weight: 580 kg