Peugeot's Promethee concept previews the 306 replacement due next spring.
'It has a number of features for future Peugeot models,' said Frederic Saint-Geours, head of PSA's Peugeot brand.
The Promethee is a little lower than the planned production car, said Bruno de Guibert, Peugeot vice president for product planning.
But its length (4180mm), height (1500mm) and two-box shape are strong indications of the 306 successor.
'Regarding concept cars, we have a different approach for each new model,' said de Guibert. 'We did not make a concept car for the 607, but we did for the 206 coupe-convertible. The concept we showed two years ago [at Paris] was almost identical to the car that is about to be launched.
'For the 306 replacement,' he said, 'we think it will take people a little time to become accustomed to the vehicle. That's why we've made Promethee.'
The 306 replacement is likely to be badged 307. Peugeot will want the new car to increase its sales and market share in crucial markets like Germany.
Sales of the 306, launched in 1993, have been steadily declining. Sales were 315,700 units last year, down from 376,200 in 1998 and 363,000 in 1997.
With the 307, Peugeot will try to follow the successful marketing formula of the 206. A broad range of models will be offered, including three- and five-door hatchbacks, a sedan and a seven-seat wagon. Coupe-convertible and coupe versions could also be offered.
'Our product policy is not to clone one model from another,' said de Guibert. 'We'd rather have a few models with a strong character and then launch variants that strengthen the main model. We've done this with the 406 and its coupe, and with the 206 and its coupe-convertible.'
The doors of the Promethee open and shut electrically with an infrared remote control. On the left side is a single sliding door that allows access to both the driver's seat and the rear seats. On the right side are two doors. The rear one is sliding.
'This solution is only exploratory,'said de Guibert. Sources say Peugeot is studying a sliding door format for the future 106 replacement.