Citroen heads for the executive lounge

  • 27-Sep-2011 11:05 EDT
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Tubik recalls Citroen's H-van of the 1950s, but the interior is designed for passengers not freight


Citroën's 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show concept, the Tubik, is based on the Hybrid4 diesel hybrid drivetrain that will soon power a production DS5 model, but some Citroën enthusiasts may recognize some of its design cues from the past. The company cites the 1950s H van as an influence, which appropriately was based on DS running gear. Equally, the shining aluminum grey bodywork and small glass area at the front recalls a classic airliner fuselage.

The Tubik looks like a cargo van, accentuated by dimensions of 4.80 m (15.75 ft) long, 2.08 m (6.82 ft) wide, and 2.05 m (6.73 ft) tall. The concealed side windows in the full-length gull-wing doors also add to the cargo van appearance.

Citroën describes it as a high-tech executive shuttle. The Tubik is designed to carry nine, envisaging the transportation needs of extended families or groups of friends. To this end, the seating is modular and can be arranged in a number of ways, including face-to-face or semi-reclined.

Equipment includes a large multimedia screen and surround sound system, so the interior can be turned into a shared entertainment space. Citroën describes the passenger space as a lounge-style cocoon, using a variety of materials including felt covered seats, silken backrests and door panels, and a leather covered floor. The ambient lighting inside is designed to highlight the colors and materials.

The concealed side windows are influenced by moucharaby windows used on houses in the Middle East and Africa, enabling those inside to see out, while obscuring the interior from outside.

All seats are separate, as in many European MPVs. The two front passenger seats, separate from the driver’s seat, can either face forward or back into the vehicle interior. The center row can either seat three, fold down to form a table, or fold back on to the third row to create an open space. Alternatively the three rows can be combined to form one large semi-reclined lounger.

The driver sits in a black leather seat, which is part of a module which groups the seat, pedal assembly, steering wheel, and curved head-up display in a single circular form that the designers call the "cyclotron." The vehicle is activated using fingerprint recognition. The headup display carries information from the navigation system. All round visibility is provided by side-mounted cameras, in place of door mirrors, and a reversing camera.

The Hybrid4 drivetrain gives the Tubik four-wheel-drive capability, with diesel-driven front wheels and electric drive to the rear wheels. The car uses Citroën’s Hydractive suspension from its larger passenger models. The system will lower the ride height at high speeds to reduce aerodynamic drag. Although the 22-in wheels appear large, these are equipped with narrow-section low-rolling-resistance tires.

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