Citroën goes back to its roots for its latest crossover concept
The Aircross is suitably named because it represents a breath of fresh air and a suitably individualistic, design-focused take on the rapidly expanding SUV/crossover segment that looks like it's set to envelop the entire automotive industry.autos Updated: Apr 09, 2015 10:16 IST
The Aircross is suitably named because it represents a breath of fresh air and a suitably individualistic, design-focused take on the rapidly expanding SUV/crossover segment that looks like it's set to envelop the entire automotive industry.
Due to be officially unveiled at the Shanghai Motor Show on April 22, the Aircross concept is the strongest indication yet that Citroën has well and truly rediscovered its mojo and that the C4 Cactus, launched last year wasn't a blip but the shape of things to come.
In fact, with just a cursory glance at the show car, it's easy to spot the design cues that help make the Cactus stand out.
For instance the sides feature airbump protectors, but this time they've been constructed out of aluminum honeycomb because SUVs are more likely to scape against branches and rocks than have a carpark prang.
Then there are the oversized wheels, which give the car a strong but not aggressive stance -- despite the increased ground clearance, it's only 1.73 meters tall -- and the spilt front headlamps that look set to become a defining feature of future Citroën cars.
But as well as remembering that not so long ago it was responsible for designing some of the most striking cars on the road -- the DS, the SM the CX and even the 2CV -- Citroën has also remembered the other factor that once made it peerless: ride comfort.
The car's wheelbase is just 2.8 meters yet the cabin is open and spacious, stripped back but not spartan. Buttons and switchgear are either removed or hidden from view so that nothing other than two 12-inch displays interruptr the lines of the dashboard.
The seats are oversized with wraparound headrests for greater comfort and feature integrated speakers and microphones for conversing.
Other borderline quirky technological features include outward facing cameras on either side of the car that can be used for creating a pictorial diary of a journey and sharing it to social media, or for identifying and getting more information on local landmarks and places of interest.
The concept features a plug-in hybrid powertrain that's been chosen because an electric motor can provide the acceleration and torque needed for handling trickier, off-road terrain.
Citroën says the car can travel for 31 miles (50km) on battery power alone and the 95hp electric motor offers a boost mode for filling in the performance gaps of the 1.6-liter gas engine mated to it, or they can work together to deliver fuel economy levels of up to 1.7l/100km (166mpg).
Expect to see the Aircross go from concept to real world reality within the next 18 months and, potentially to spawn a range of small and large crossovers.