There’s now under a month to go before the doors fly open at the 2017 Geneva Motor show. True to form, the key protagonists have wasted no time in throwing us some intriguing titbits ahead of the grand opening. In the same vein as Peugeot, who have been fervently championing their brand-defining 3008 of late, bedfellows Citroën are keen to grab a piece of the increasingly succulent SUV pie. The latest debutante from the French giant, the C-Aircross Concept, looks to do just that by plotting a decisive course into the compact SUV arena.
If you reckon this new concept SUV has the look of a jacked-up C3 about it, you’re not far wrong. Any future production compact off-roader from Citroën – clearly the end game of this particular exercise – would likely be based on the same blueprint as the French stable’s new-look hatchback. Yes, the C-Aircross does borrow more than a few fashion tips from the latest C3, chiefly that distinctive new light-signature and grille, Citroën’s new ‘family face’.
As with its production sibling, the C-Aircross’ daytime running lights are integrated into the spindly grille and are separated from the main headlights which sit just below. Beneath the short and markedly raised bonnet, the front end is fitted with a skid-plate finished in glossy black. It’s a similar story at the rear, which also features new 3D lights, whilst the wheel arches and protective side pans get a smart grey and back camo design. A set of front bumper air intakes and outlets built into the door guards, keep drag down to a minimum, as does the prominent rear diffuser.
Despite its clearly high-tech feel, the C-Aircross’s most curious feature, a rear ‘suicide door’, is a throwback to the days of the Lincoln Continental. Although rarely seen beyond the concept realm these days, the idea of opposing opening doors is not an entirely new one chez Citroën, having previewed a similar design on its CXperience concept saloon at last year’s Paris motor show.
Inside the C-Aircross concept, a large panoramic roof bathes the cabin in light, as do the innovative orange-tinted translucent rear quarter windows. Up front, there’s an elevated one-piece dashboard with tinted ‘head-up display’, a 12-inch infotainment touchscreen and a front-to-rear centre console packed with handy cubby holes. However, the pièce-de-resistance in terms of design is unquestionably the stylish single spoke steering wheel. A deliberate nod to the Citroëns of yesteryear, this quirky trademark was originally conceived so that the wheel would almost never obscure the gauges from view.
Heritage apart, the C-Aircross showcases some thoroughly modern stuff in the gadgetry department. Two cameras take the place of traditional door mirrors with a third integrated into the rear spoiler. The C-Aircross will also charge your smartphones wirelessly as well as allow rear passengers to slot their tablets into the backs of the front seats to enjoy gaming or movies on the go. Citroën are also extolling the virtues of the C-Aircross’s “audio bubbles”. This array of speakers and microphones built into the front and rear headrests not only funnels high-def. tunes into passengers ears but also serves as an independently adjustable intercom style communication system.
Powertrain details haven’t been specified by Citroën ahead of the C-Aircross’s public unveiling. That said, we do know the Geneva-bound compact SUV concept is equipped with a five-mode grip control system with settings tailored for driving on ordinary public roads as well as, sand, snow and dirt tracks.
Look out for the Citroën C-Aircross concept at next month’s Geneva Motor Show as the French brand maps out its vision for the compact SUV of the future.