Citroen looks to the near future with an orange-studded SUV

Just like its production models, French automaker Citroen is known for producing odd, yet oddly likable concept cars. Merging obvious production vehicle allusions and never-gonna-happen design study gloss, the concepts are usually a mixed bag, but almost always eye-catching. Such is the case with the latest C-Aircross Concept, which was just revealed ahead of its in-the-metal debut at the 2017 Geneva International Motor Show next month. Following on the heels of Citroen’s Aircross Concept revealed back in 2015, the latest Aircross is a compact crossover that previews an upcoming production version of the crossover destined to replace the current C3 Picasso MPV. Clearly, Citroen is far more interested in SUVs, and as such, the production variant of this concept will offer the same softroader cues, including a tall body style, large wheels, flared fenders, and space in the back for things. The C-Aircross Concept also promises new interior tech and interior design, with a cabin space that’s just as wild, if not wilder, than the exterior.

And why not? Crossovers and SUVs continue to surge in popularity in a variety of markets, so the transition from MPV to SUV makes a lot of sense for the brand, especially with a (relatively) fresh design for the exterior panels and interior space.

Linda Jackson, Citroen’s CEO, had this to say – “The C-Aircross Concept demonstrates Citroen’s pursuit of its international product offensive. Based on the state-of-mind of New C3, it illustrates a different vision for the compact SUV segment, full of confidence and boldness.”

Although Citroen has expressed interest in tackling the U.S. market sometime in the future, the production variant of this concept will almost certainly not make it stateside. That said, interested European customers will likely get an eyeful with a debut sometime this fall, while an on-sale date will likely follow before the end of the year.

So then – what’s this thing really previewing, and what will actually make it to production? Read on to find out all the details.

Continue reading to learn more about the Citroen C-Aircross Concept.

Exterior

While I did just shoot down any and all hope that the production version of the Citroen C-Aircross Concept would come to the U.S. market, the French automaker does mention the styling was specifically crafted with a worldwide audience in mind. So who knows, maybe there’s hope after all. Probably not though.

Either way, the C-Aircross Concept takes its cues from the New C3 supermini city car, as reimagined for an SUV-like application.

2017 Citroen C-Aircross Concept High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Citroën C3 High Resolution Exterior
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Citroen C-Aircross Concept pictured on the left, New C3 supermini city car pictured on the right.

Citroen also gave the concept a new 3D light design sporting three individual “floating” sections per side.

As you can see, there’s actually a great deal of crossover (see what I did there?) between the two. Both get slowly curving lines and smoothed-out panels, with thin, drawn-out features and rounded shapes from front to back. In fact, considering just how close the Concept is to the production C3, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the majority of the Aircross’ styling elements make it out of conceptual purgatory.

Of course, not everything will make it – the colors, for example, are not a likely candidate for production. But who knows, maybe folks will really respond to the blue paint, white roof, and Fluorescent Coral accents, and Citroen will do a special edition model. Added to the headlight surrounds, wheel centers, side skirt guards, and roof rails, the orange is a nice punctuation to the otherwise down-stated color scheme.

2017 Citroen C-Aircross Concept High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Citroen C-Aircross Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Both the Aircross Concept and production C3 get slowly curving lines and smoothed-out panels, with thin, drawn-out features and rounded shapes from front to back.

In front, we find the headlights mounted low in the bumper, using LEDs for the lighting element. The hood is short, while skid plates were added front and back with black coloring and a glossy finish. Above the squarish headlights is a trio of daytime running lights, one trio per side, which are connected by Citroen’s signature double chevron grille, finished with polished metal.

In the corners are wild-looking wheels that could possibly warp you to that tesseract dimension from Interstellar if you stare at them too long. A layer of “protective trim” was added to the flared-out fenders and side skirts, underlining the compact SUV with a black-and-grey camo design that seems to lift the whole thing up even further off the ground. More orange is found in the rear quarter panel, while the doors use a pillar-less design (more on that in a bit). The door handles are integrated with the body panels for a smoother look.

In back, there’s a roof-mounted duckbill spoiler above, plus a skid plate/diffuser element below. Citroen also gave the concept a new 3D light design sporting three individual “floating” sections per side. These are similar to the rear quarter window panels, which apparently increase aero efficiency and “conceal the interior of the vehicle without preventing light from entering the cabin.”

In the corners are wild-looking wheels that could possibly warp you to that tesseract dimension from Interstellar if you stare at them too long.

Speaking of aero efficiency, intakes in the front bumper, vents in the side skirt guards, and that rear diffuser element all contribute to making the SUV a little more slippery as it cruises through the air. “Each surface has been designed to take air flow into account,” Citroen says.

Finally, the automaker gave us exact exterior dimensions, which seems a little odd for a concept vehicle, but makes sense when you put them next to the figures of the outgoing C3 Picasso MPV. As a reference, the new concept vehicle is a little longer, a little narrower, and funny enough, not as tall as the MPV.

Exterior Dimensions

Citroen C-Aircross Concept Citroen C3 Picasso
Length 4.15 meters/13.6 feet 4.08 meters/13.4 feet
Width 1.74 meters/5.7feet 1.77 meters/5.8 feet
Height 1.63 meters/5.3 feet 1.67 meters/5.5 feet

Interior

2017 Citroen C-Aircross Concept High Resolution Interior
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The first thing you’ll notice about the Citroen C-Aircross’ interior before you even step inside it are the rear-hinged, “suicide” doors used for the rear two points of entry, which makes that whole pillar-less design start to make a lot more sense. This helps to enhance the vehicle’s accessibility, and helps draw similarities to the previous Aircross concept and the CXperience concept.

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely these doors will make it into production, and the same goes for the majority of the interior look and layout. However, I hope that’s not the case, because it’s quite the piece of design.

2017 Citroen C-Aircross Concept High Resolution Interior
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The colors used match and even exceed the showiness and flamboyance of the exterior, once again employing that Flourescent Coral orange for the carpeting, surrounds, and trim accents.

The colors used match and even exceed the showiness and flamboyance of the exterior, once again employing that Flourescent Coral orange for the carpeting, surrounds, and trim accents. Light grey and white are also used in abundance. Citroen contends the interior will be bathed in natural lighting thanks to the large windows in the flanks and the panoramic sunroof, as well as the rear quarter windows already mentioned.

Citoren says it hopes the interior manages to create “a modern and relaxed atmosphere, with an overall impression of minimalist style.” That means a very low-impact control scheme, an elevated, one-piece dash that’s covered in fabric used elsewhere in the car, and lots of horizontal lines. The steering wheel is a squared-off, single-spoke unit with thumb-length multi-function controls. Citroen is also quick to point out that the single-spoke design is an allusion to the brand’s heritage.

The seats are also quite interesting, using a very shapely design with generous lateral bolsters, and a “suspended and raised” positioning. There are four seating positions total, with two in front and two in the rear, with both the front and rear passengers enjoying embossed Alcantara with a quilted application, plus lots of the same fabric found elsewhere where in the car. The rear uses a sofa-like bench. Citroes says the seats take inspiration from “the world of bedding,” although but hopefully not to the point of putting the driver to sleep. Then again, looking at the brightness of the orange, that’s probably not a problem.

2017 Citroen C-Aircross Concept High Resolution Interior
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Citroes says the seats take inspiration from “the world of bedding,” although but hopefully not to the point of putting the driver to sleep. Then again, looking at the brightness of the orange, that’s probably not a problem.

Running the length of the car is a prominent center console that stops short of the rear seating area to increase rear legroom. The center console offers copious amounts of storage and practicality, complemented by additional storage compartments scattered around the cabin. For example, the dash, door panels, and seat backs all get storage, while you can even store luggage under the center console.

On the technology front, there’s a very nifty looking color heads-up display for the driver that projects pertinent info just out of the corner of his or her periphery, using colors specifically picked to match the interior’s upholstery and trim. There’s also a bin in the center console specifically for wireless charging of your phone.

Entertainment and further information comes from the large 12-inch touchscreen mounted to the center of the dash. This is part of Citroen’s new Human-Machine Interface, which acts as the central control hub for both vehicle and infotainment parameters, and can be reconfigured to display dual outputs in either a 1/3 -2/3 split, or 2/3 – 1/3 split, offering passengers their own entertainment options while the driver utilizes it for purposes related to driving. Of course, you can go full screen if you want as well. Included is the Citroen Connected Nav system with 3D connected navigation, plus voice recognition for hands-free control.

2017 Citroen C-Aircross Concept High Resolution Interior
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Finally, if you happen to be in the sharing mood, there’s Citroen’s Share with U app, which allows its users to share games, music and videos amongst those riding with them.

If desired, rear-seated passengers can use the seatback-mounted tablet holders for their own entertainment options. Or, if you wanna show off your media, there’s also the Mirror Screen functionality, which will automatically sync with electronic device. It’s a feature Citroen already offers on its production vehicles, as is the ConnectedCAM feature and HD camera, something that was first shown on the New Citroen C3.

Finally, if you happen to be in the sharing mood, there’s Citroen’s Share with U app, which allows its users to share games, music and videos amongst those riding with them. To be completely honest, this app sounds like a copyright violation waiting to happen, but maybe not.

If you prefer not to share, you can instead have your own individual musical experience using speakers mounted in both the individual front headrests and rear headrests. The headrests also have microphones to create “audio bubbles” to help facilitate communication between the passengers, which makes sense in a helicopter, but not so much an SUV.

As a replacement for the usual mirrors, the C-Aircross Concept uses rear-facing cameras to project what’s behind the vehicle. Also included is a camera mounted in the roof spoiler for an even more commanding view of what’s behind.

At the heart of all this interior tech is the Citroen Advanced Comfort program. According to the automaker, the C-Aircross Concept was “designed as a cocoon and comfortable living space for its driver and passengers,” and it comes “equipped with a number of features that promote physical and mental well-being.”

Drivetrain

2017 Citroen C-Aircross Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Interestingly, Citroen declined to mention anything about the C-Aircross Concept’s engine and drivetrain. If we were to guess, we’d say the same lineup used in the C3 Picasso makes a lot of sense, with a variety of both gas and diesel variants. These include a 1.2-liter PureTech gas unit making 109 horsepower, a 1.6-liter VTi 16v gas unit making 120 horsepower, a 1.6-liter BlueHDI diesel making 98 horsepower, and a 1.6-liter e-HDI Airdream 8v making 90 horsepower. Both a five-speed manual and a six-speed automatic are on the table for cog-swap duties.

Citroen did mention that the concept gets Grip Control, which more than likely means it’s FWD only.

That said, Citroen did mention that the concept gets Grip Control, which more than likely means it’s FWD only. According to the automaker, Grip Control can be selected via a controller in the central console, and offers a variety of different drive modes to help you take on whatever happens to be in your way. These modes include Standard, which is useful for you’re just cruising down the road in a, er, standard fashion, Sand, which will lock the front wheels to make them turn simultaneously and make it less likely you’ll get stuck in very soft surfaces, Off-Road, which supposedly acts like a limited-slip differential for surfaces like mud, grass, and dirt, Snow, which offers further variable torque between the wheels, and ESP Off, which will turn off the electronic stability program and leave it to you to find the grip.

Of course, if Citroen is serious about making the C3 Picasso into a real SUV, available AWD seems like a must, but we’ll have to wait and see if the brand follows through.

Conclusion

2017 Citroen C-Aircross Concept High Resolution Exterior
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While definitely not the craziest concept we’ve ever seen from Citroen, it’s not exactly the most down-to-Earth concept we’ve even seen either. We fully expect several of the features showcased on this concept to make it into production, while others will likely get shelved as a good idea that doesn’t quite make sense from the perspective of the bean counters.

When it comes to stuff that’ll make it, the general exterior design we see will probably not get a major overhaul, while the color scheme likely will. The interior design, 12-inch touch screen, heads-up display, and microphone inter-vehicle communication system will all likely get the axe, but the rear-backup camera, high-end fabric, rear tablet holders, and wireless charger should all make it.

The only real big question is what we’ll see under the hood. Make sure to check back with us in a few months to see what Citroen decides to do with the C3.

  • Leave it
    • Weird and wacky
    • Interior layout likely to get a major detune
    • What’ll be used under the hood?

Press Release

Exactly one month ahead of the Geneva Motor Show, Citroën has revealed its C-Aircross Concept, which offers a new vision of the compact SUV. With its original design and strong identity, this new concept embodies Citroën’s capacity to be different, whatever the segment. The unique design adds to the dynamic attitude of the SUV, thanks to the fluidity of its aerodynamic lines and a fresh new colour scheme. On-board, C-Aircross Concept reflects a new step for the Citroën Advanced Comfort® programme, with a light and airy cabin, and technologies that makes life easier. With its World Premiere set for the Geneva Motor Show on 7 March, the C-Aircross Concept heralds Citroën’s global offensive in the SUV sector.

Citroën has revealed a daring new concept car with a strong and colourful identity – C-Aircross Concept. This interpretation of a compact SUV marks a new stage for Citroën in the deployment of its product strategy. With the C-Aircross Concept’s internationally-oriented body style, the Citroën brand confirms its offensive in the SUV market – an offensive that began with the reveal of the Aircross Concept in 2015.

2017 Citroen C-Aircross Concept High Resolution Exterior
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The Citroën C-Aircross Concept’s unique identity is inspired by New C3, although clearly adapted for a new sector of the market:

DESIGN– The C-Aircross Concept marks its difference in the world of the SUV thanks to its strong, original and fresh design. Assertive in its appearance, the C-Aircross Concept boasts a unique balance between protection and the fluidity of its lines. The exterior immediately gives an impression of space on-board. Inside, the use of colour and specially chosen materials creates a modern and relaxed atmosphere, with an overall impression of minimalist style.
COMFORT– A modern SUV, the front doors – and the rear-hinged doors at the back – open to reveal a spacious cabin, ensuring complete peace-of-mind for all occupants. The concept offers wide, quilt-effect seats and plenty of light from its large windows and panoramic sunroof. Thanks to the Citroën Advanced Comfort® programme, the concept’s technologies serve to enhance ease-of-use. For example: a colour head-up display, a single spoke steering wheel with intuitive controls, rear facing cameras and wireless induction charging for smartphones.

"The C-Aircross Concept demonstrates Citroën’s pursuit of its international product offensive. Based on the state-of-mind of New C3, it illustrates a different vision for the compact SUV segment, full of confidence and boldness. This concept also embodies the ambitions of the Citroën Advanced Comfort® programme, making its interior space a source of well-being." Linda Jackson, Citroën CEO

2017 Citroen C-Aircross Concept High Resolution Exterior
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01 – DESIGN: AN ASSERTIVE SUV

Confident and relaxed

Staunchly optimistic, the C-Aircross Concept boasts an assertive and singular personality in the world of the SUV. Its modern design offers the feeling of robustness and energy, along with an impressive, yet non-aggressive presence. The design is visually enhanced by the protective trim found on the lower parts of the body. The Citroën Style team has cleverly combined seamless, flowing lines with the features of an SUV, on a compact body (length: 4.15m, width: 1.74m, height: 1.63m).

Based on the style markers featured on New C3, the C-Aircross Concept contrasts smooth surfaces with bold graphic elements that are brought to life with splashes of colour. The blue body paint contrasts elegantly with Fluorescent Coral highlights, which bring out the fun side of this concept. The brightly coloured personalisation elements can be seen around the headlights, on the wheels, on the side guards and on the roof bars – which also incorporate LED lighting at the front.

In terms of posture, the C-Aircross Concept stands out with its short and raised bonnet, and its sturdy front end. Its assertive, reassuring lines and moulded panels further accentuate its strong identity. Always ready for adventure, the C-Aircross Concept is equipped with front and rear protection shields with a glossy black finish, and wheel arch extensions with a ‘stealthy’ camouflage design. To further emphasise its go-anywhere nature, this new concept is equipped with large wheels featuring a unique design that suggest a raised driving position and off-road capabilities.

In line with the exterior styling codes of New C3, C-Aircross Concept inherits the brand’s split level light signature at the front. The daytime running lights are integrated into the grille and are separated from the main lights, which sit below them. The rear is just as assertive in terms of style and comes complete with new 3D lights, each with three floating sections. These rear clusters share their graphic design with the decoration on the floating and backlit rear quarter windows. A key design characteristic, the rear quarter windows were conceived as aerodynamic features of the car and conceal the interior of the vehicle without preventing light from entering the cabin.

Aerodynamic efficiency is also enhanced with air inlets located in the front bumper, air outlets built into the side door guards, and a diffuser at the rear. Each surface has been designed to take air flow into account.

2017 Citroen C-Aircross Concept High Resolution Interior
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A sleek and stylish cabin

The C-Aircross Concept features ‘opposing opening doors’, including rear-hinged doors at the back for better accessibility, a design reminiscent of the Aircross and CXperience concepts.

Citroën’s designers opted for an elevated one-piece dashboard, and for suspended and raised seats that complement the interior architecture – which is primarily horizontal in design for an impression of fluidity, modernity and space.

In addition to the single spoke steering wheel (a nod to the brand’s heritage), the fabric-covered dashboard features a tinted ‘head-up display’, which is directly in the driver’s field of vision. Information is displayed in colours that perfectly match the interior colour scheme of the vehicle. In the middle of the dashboard, a 12-inch touchscreen takes centre stage, displaying driving information and infotainment updates. The lower centre console extends from the front seats right through to the rear, and boasts a number of useful storage spaces.

Entirely designed in a combination of light grey and orange, the floating dashboard features a large storage compartment that stretches right across the car.

The Fluorescent Coral colour that dominates the floor and carpeting creates a welcoming tone-on-tone effect, and there are splashes of colour on the air vents and the seatbelt buckles too. This warm and colourful combination also features on the sofa-style seats, along with thick and soft-to-the touch fabric.

2017 Citroen C-Aircross Concept High Resolution Exterior
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02 – COMFORT: A MODERN SUV

As with New C3, the C-Aircross Concept benefits from the Citroën Advanced Comfort® programme. Designed as a cocoon and comfortable living space for its driver and passengers, the interior of the C-Aircross Concept is equipped with a number of features that promote physical and mental well-being.

Seats are an invitation to travel

As soon as you enter the car, you experience a sense of well-being, both visually and physically. The C-Aircross Concept offers an immediate feeling of comfort, with four contoured, enveloping seats.

Both in the front and in the back, the wide and enticing seats are covered in a warm, embossed Alcantara with a quilt-effect. Inspired by the world of bedding, the seats adapt to the shape and size of each occupant, ensuring a relaxing on-board experience.

Numerous clever storage compartments

In the quest for everyday practicality and functionality, the cabin contains a large number of spacious and easily accessible storage spaces. Up front, the driver and passenger benefit from a storage area that runs right across the length of the dashboard. There are other clever spaces too, including large storage compartments in the doors and an area for storing bags out of sight under the centre console.

The designers have also added storage to the seat backs and seat side panels. Lastly, the centre console is equipped with a compartment dedicated to wireless induction charging for smartphones.

Rear passengers can even place their tablet computers on the backs of the front seats to watch a film.

2017 Citroen C-Aircross Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Bathed in light

C-Aircross Concept has a large glazed area, including the innovative and stylish rear quarter windows that let light into the cabin. The large panoramic glazed roof also lets daylight into the vehicle.

These many sources of light reinforce the impression of space and well-being. They contribute directly to the everyday comfort of the vehicle’s passengers, providing a true ‘Feel Good’ experience.

Technologies dedicated to the on-board experience

On-board, the latest technologies are designed to enhance convenience. Useful, intuitive and in keeping with the Citroën Advanced Comfort® programme, these technologies benefit all of the vehicle’s occupants.

To aid the driver, the steering wheel controls are easy to use. Key driving information is displayed within the driver’s field of vision via ‘head-up vision’ and ‘high-tech rear vision’ functions. Two cameras take the place of traditional door mirrors. For an optimal view from the rear of the vehicle, a camera is integrated into the roof spoiler at the back of the car.

Ultra connected

The C-Aircross Concept is equipped with a smart and intuitive Human-Machine Interface. The driver and front passenger are able to control all of the main functions via the 12-inch central touchscreen.

The system also features Citroën Connect Nav, a 3D connected navigation system with voice recognition. Occupants can choose their own music or even choose to watch their favourite film. Depending on the on-board experience desired, an array of screen configurations are possible – 1/3 -2/3, 2/3 -1/3 or full screen. As such, the passengers can be as active during the journey as the driver.

In order to encourage information sharing and discussion on-board, the Citroën C-Aircross Concept gives passengers the opportunity to automatically synchronise all of their electronic devices via the Mirror Screen functionality. Mirror Screen connectivity is already available across the Citroën range.

The C-Aircross Concept also features ConnectedCAM Citroën™, the on-board HD camera that premiered as a world first on New Citroën C3.

The C-Aircross Concept also comes with a ‘Share with U’ app already installed. This new service enables those inside the car to share their media files (games, music and videos) with their travelling companions and to enjoy them on-board.

For true acoustic comfort, the front and rear headrests are equipped with built-in speakers and microphones, creating ‘sound experience’ audio bubbles. Now everyone can choose to communicate with the other passengers, or to keep to themselves.

2017 Citroen C-Aircross Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Off-road capabilities

The SUV-style C-Aircross Concept is equipped for everyday urban journeys or mountain and coastal getaways. The car comes with a Grip Control dial built into the central console for a more versatile drive. This smart technology is designed with 5 operational modes:

STANDARD: This mode is for normal road conditions (main roads, motorways and urban roads)
SAND: This mode uses the two front wheels simultaneously to reduce the risk of getting stuck in sand or on soft ground
OFF-ROAD: This mode acts as a Limited-slip Differential and ensures optimum traction on slippery surfaces (mud, wet grass or dirt roads)
SNOW: This mode instantly adjusts the rotation of each of the driven wheels to the grip available on snow-covered surfaces
ESP OFF: This mode allows the driver to deactivate the ESP (active up to 50km/h or 31mph)

Visit the Citroën stand at the Geneva International Motor Show on Tuesday 7 and Wednesday 8 March (press days) or from Thursday 9 to Sunday 19 March (public days), to see the Citroën C-Aircross Concept make its World Premiere.

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