In the 1980s, the Peugeot styling centre commissioned the designers Gérard Welter and Paul Bracq to design prototypes announcing the main lines of the models to come from Sochaux.

Unveiled respectively at the 1984 and 1988 Paris Motor Shows, the Oxia and the Quasar are Concept Cars that affirm the French brand's design projects. In a global automotive context where many manufacturers presented prototypes that often had no future, Peugeot made its mark with these two dazzling saloon cars. Their success was due to the fact that several elements of these design studies were to be found for a long time on the production Peugeot.  

It was not until the 1980s that Peugeot really began to develop concept cars. With the Oxia of 1984 and the Quasar of 1988, but also the Proxima of 1986, the French manufacturer masterfully demonstrated its capacity for innovation and imagination. Logically, at the same time, PTS regularly won international competitions, notably with the 205 and 405 Turbo 16 in rallying, then the 905 in endurance. The latter shared several technical and aesthetic solutions with the prototypes mentioned above...

The sober and slender lines of the Oxia, designed by Gérard Welter, were used for Peugeot's production models for several years.

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Designed in two months

The Quasar prototype was conceived in the summer of 1984 when Gérard Welter and Paul Bracq decided to put their current studies on hold in order to devote themselves to a stylistic exercise that would allow them to express their creativity without the constraint of mass production. Their initial idea was to design a two-seater coupé with minimalist lines based on the mechanics of the 205 Turbo 16. The bodywork is very light and has a fully glazed interior, including the roof, so that the passengers feel as if they are in a bubble. The futuristic ambience is accentuated by the two doors that open upwards in an elytra-like fashion. At the rear, the engine is completely visible, in a vast space topped by an aerodynamic spoiler. The interior is dressed entirely in red leather, with blue carpets, contrasting with the pristine white of the bodywork. The dashboard, which is suspended from the centre console, has a digital LCD instrument panel and a guidance screen that contribute to the prototype's avant-garde design. Unlike the Oxia, the Quasar never saw the road and remained a show car for exhibitions.

The Quazar's leather-clad interior features a high-tech environment developed in collaboration with Clarion.

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Innovative materials

The Oxia was part of the trend towards high performance supercars offered by many manufacturers at the time. It seems to be much more suitable than the Quasar for mass production, as evidenced by its level of finish and functionality. Its lines, designed by Welter and Bracq, are similar in some respects to those found a few years later on several Peugeot models. The profile, particularly aerodynamic, is fluid and balanced with a short and plunging front bonnet over a very pure radiator grille bordered by H1 type iodine headlights. The front part of the large panoramic windscreen houses 18 photoelectric cells that power the trip computer. The curve of the interior is topped by a mobile spoiler that varies in angle according to speed. The chassis structure is made up of glued and riveted aluminium alloy honeycomb panels. The whole is covered with a body made of carbon fibre and Kevlar combined with epoxy resin. Built in only two examples, the Oxia's development was halted by the Gulf War crisis in 1990.

The front of the Oxia has a spoiler 12 cm off the ground that includes a large air intake to keep the car on the ground at high speeds.

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Exceptional engines

To equip these new generation Concept Cars, Peugeot has chosen the most powerful and sophisticated engines available. Thus, the Quasar uses the same engine package as the 205 Turbo 16 rally car presented the previous year. This package includes the Type XU 8T in-line four-cylinder engine of 1,775 cm3, whose power has been increased to 600 bhp, combined with a 5-speed all-wheel drive system, while each axle has a ZF limited-slip differential. Like the Proxima, the Oxia uses the 2,849cc PRV ZN-type V6 engine developed by Peugeot, Renault and Volvo over the past decade. This engine, which is open at 90° and installed transversely in a central rear position, has a double turbo, a double overhead camshaft and four valves per cylinder. It has a power output of 680 hp at 8,200 rpm, which allows a top speed of 345 km/h. The 6-speed manual transmission is all-wheel drive, with a central differential and viscous coupling. The suspension is fitted with 17-inch Michelin MXX tyres and the braking system is based on four 327 mm ventilated discs with an ABR anti-lock system.

The Quasar's front grille follows the lines of the 205 launched shortly before, with its sleek horizontal bars and almond-shaped headlights.

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Talented designers  

The two designers of the Quasar and Oxia are Gérard Welter (1942-2018) for the bodywork and Paul Bracq (born in 1933) for the interior fittings. The former joined the Peugeot design office in La Garenne-Colombes, Hauts-de-Seine, in 1960, then became the brand's head of exterior styling in 1975 before being promoted to Director of the Styling Centre from 1998 to 2007. His major collaborations include the 205 and its Turbo 16 racing version. Before joining Peugeot in 1974 as head of interior design, Bracq was involved in Mercedes' most prestigious programmes from 1957 to 1966, and then headed the BMW design studio from 1970. At Peugeot, he worked on all models from the 604 of 1975 to the 206 of 1998.

Celestial references

For its series of Concept Cars produced in the 1980s, Peugeot chose names that evoke astronomy. Thus, the Oxia Palus quadrangle refers to a region of the planet Mars, while quasars - short for quasi-stellar - are the brightest sources of light known in the Universe, a thousand times brighter than a galaxy, discovered in 1960. As for the third prototype presented in 1986, its name comes from Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our sun. Thereafter, Peugeot would never again use this celestial name for its Concept Cars.