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First look: Citroen C-AirPlay on high rotation

Chart Topper: C-AirPlay is one of the stars of the Bologna motor show.

The next C3 could very well be hiding somewhere within the Citroen C-AirPlay concept

9 Dec 2005

THIS month’s small Bologna motor show has thrown up some surprising new concept cars from Europe’s leading car-makers.

Supposedly providing a broad hint at the shape of the next C3 model, Citroen’s C-AirPlay concept was shown for the first time at the Italian motor show this week.

The bubble-shaped mini three-door, two-passenger hatch was styled by British car designer Mark Lloyd and is shorter than the current C3.

It is designed to bring passengers into contact with the outside world via low-level windows in the bottom half of the doors, as well as a ventilation system that wafts (hopefully) fresh air through the cabin and out through large vents in the door panels, even at low speeds.

The roof, in the style of the Citroen C4 coupe, is essentially a single, curving glass panel extending from the top of the windscreen through to the rear window. This furthers the impression of light and space already accentuated by the bright colour schemes of the concept car.

The extreme cab-forward body begins with an almost non-existent bonnet with headlights reaching virtually to the A-Pillar, and massive vents directly underneath.

At the back, there’s a simple, clean panel sporting Citroen’s double-chevron badge and, below the licence plate surround, a single exhaust outlet.

The wheels are decently sized too, emphasizing the low-slung, wide-track look of the c-airplay.

The exterior is painted in pearlescent white, while hot pink colours prevail inside.

The "porthole" windows in the lower doors, according to Citroen, enhance the impression of speed, which is probably just as well because the C-AirPlay’s engine produces just 82kW. But the company says the C-AirPlay uses light-weight construction, so the power-weight ratio might be acceptable.

33 center imageThe sweeping, two-colour dash terminates on the driver’s side with a large oval module containing the instruments which are organised around two spheres including the speedometer, rev counter, fuel gauge and other functions, all back-lit at night by a red glow matching the interior colour themes.

These take the place of a normal steering wheel hub, the spokes simply disappearing into the surrounds of the instrument console.

The mini Citroen uses a "Sensodrive" automated gearbox with steering wheel paddles and the stop-start engine cuts out when the car is stationary in traffic to save fuel and limit exhaust pollution.

Tactility is what the C-AirPlay is all about, says Citroen: "Tactile zones in the centre of the front seats include gear controls, the electric window lifts and rearview mirror adjustment. These touch-sensitive points express a new proximity with the car, which reacts to physical contact, just like a living organism.

"The tactile exchange between C-AirPlay and the driver also extends to the materials used, such as the silicone on the seats and door panels."With its strange, one-piece, two-person seating arrangement Citroen describes the C-AirPlay as a supermini, aimed essentially at urban duties and handy to both park and manoeuvre in traffic.

The company says it provides ample space for two people and their luggage.

The AirPlay is 3.3 metres long, with a wheelbase of 2.23 metres, a width of 1.68 metres and a height of 1.39 metres.

Also at Bologna was the rugged Oltre Fiat 4WD, a sort of Italian Hummer.

Derived from the Iveco Light Multi-role Vehicle, the Oltre is 4870mm long, 2050mm high, 2200mm wide and has a wheelbase of 3230 mm. It has a massive 500mm ground clearance with permanent 4WD and coil-sprung independent suspension.

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