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Frankfurt show: Citroen unveils Tubik executive shuttle

Citroen yourself down: The Tubik offers multiple interior accommodation options within its unusual body.

Tubik concept recalls Citroen’s pioneering vans while stepping into the future

Citroen logo5 Sep 2011

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

CITROEN has unveiled a concept vehicle that is instantly recognisable as a spiritual successor to the iconic vans it started producing in the 1930s and 1940s while simultaneously exploring ideas that could shape the future of luxury multi-purpose transport.

The Tubik is Citroen’s flight of fancy for next week’s Frankfurt motor show and is pitched as an “executive shuttle” that is “more than a taxi, more flexible than a limousine and as much fun as a trip to the beach”.

A giant full-length gullwing door with a large one-way glass panel opens to reveal a versatile, luxurious (but garish and boudoir-like) interior space with three rows of seats that can accommodate up to eight passengers – in addition to the separately-seated driver.

The seating can be configured in various combinations of traditional people-mover layout, living space, meeting room and bedroom, or to offer stretch limousine-style accommodation with entertainment units that descend from the ceiling.

The front two-seat bench alongside the driver sits on a semi-circular base that can be rolled to face either the road ahead or the rear of the cabin, and has integrated seatbelt hasps that can function in either position.

A central bench is formed of three separate, adjoining seats that can also be folded flat to create a dining table for the rear passengers or stowed under the rear bench to provide a large open space.

33 center imageOne of the central seat-backs can also be folded outwards to make part of the rear seats into a chaise-type sofa or corner seat. Alternatively, the entire middle bench can be folded in this way to create a king-size bed.

The versatility is aided by ceiling-mounted head restraints that can be stowed away to enable the backrests to form a flat and seamless bed.

The driver accesses the cockpit capsule, which is enclosed in a circular, high-gloss aluminium shield, via a large scissor-opening door.

The Tubik’s instruments and major controls are housed in the illuminated steering wheel’s fixed hub, supplemented by a full-height head-up display. The steering column is annexed by a further iPhone-style control panel.

Rear vision is achieved by cameras mounted above the side windows in pods reminiscent of the original Citroen H-Van’s door mirrors.

Although modern, aerodynamic and riding on huge chrome alloy wheels, further references to the past are found on the Tubik’s exterior, with a snub nose and subtle surfacing flourishes that recall the H-Van’s almost entirely corrugated exterior.

The radiator grille and the concept’s name reprise the pioneering Citroen TUB van that redefined the small commercial genre with its sliding side doors and front-drive, forward-control layout.

However, that grille, coupled with the snub nose, aggressive-looking LED headlights and wrap-around windscreen that leads into the van’s slab-sided flanks, result in a vehicle that, depending on the angle, resembles either a storm trooper’s helmet or a science-fiction monster that is part pig, part airliner and part chest-freezer.

Citroen says the Tubik was inspired by identifying a gap in the offerings available on its Multicity project website that attempts to integrate the various forms of transport required to complete a given journey in France – be it public transport, aircraft, bicycles or hire cars – into a single route-finding and booking service.

Citroen will also be showing the production-ready DS5 executive car at Frankfurt alongside a special Ultra Prestige version of its DS3 premium hatch, the DS4 luxury small car and a DS3 WRC car.

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