The conventionally styled people carrier is dying, and it looks like the Citroen C3 Picasso will be the latest model to transition from MPV to SUV. Citroen has confirmed that the next SUV to join its range will be called the C3 Aircross – based on the Citroen C-Aircross Concept from Geneva – which could spell the end for the C3 Picasso.
It will follow the C5 Aircross which Citroen will launch at the 2017 Shanghai Motor Show, and is expected to arrive towards the end of the year. It’s likely that larger and mid-sized SUV designed to sit above and below the C5 Aircross respectively could also arrive as replacements for the C4 Picasso and Grand C4 Picasso ranges.
If Citroen does decided to axe the Picasso lineups, it would also save the French manufacturer a tidy sum, as an annual fee has to be paid to the Picasso Administration for use of the of Picasso name.
However, the C-Aircross takes its styling cues from the new C3 hatchback, as well as the pumped-up C4 Cactus, and offers plenty of hints as to how the C3 Aircross could look. The maker’s now-synonymous Airbumps feature on the doors, while raised suspension and body cladding give it a distinctive SUV design. Scuff plates and roof bars offer added style, while the C3’s distinctive LED running lights and double chevron grille also feature.
Citroen says every surface is designed to improve efficiency, with air inlets all over as well as a rear diffuser to aid aerodynamics.
The slatted theme runs to the C-pillars, which, instead of being solid plastic, allow light through small holes – making the interior feel much brighter. And the panoramic roof – as seen on the C4 Cactus – offers a feeling of space as per Citroen’s Advanced Comfort philosophy.
Elsewhere, the digital dashboard gives a look at Citroen’s bold cabin of the future. Personalisation will be key, with flashes of red throughout, as well as a 12-inch screen and glass head-up display. ConnectedCAM dashcam tech from the C3 hatch also features, as well as speakers in the seat’s headrests.
There’s no gearlever, allowing room for a wide centre console with wireless phone charging. Despite ditching its MPV roots, practicality is as important as ever, with compartments dotted around the cabin. The mirrors are replaced by cameras, but these won’t make it on to the production model.
Engines will be lifted from the C3 hatch, including a range of turbocharged petrol and diesel units. The platform has also been designed for electrification from the outset.
This being a concept, we’re unlikely to see the Aircross’s rear-hinged doors translate to the production model. To give an idea of size, the 4.1m body puts it between a Ford Fiesta and Focus – although at 1.63m high it’s almost as tall as a Kuga SUV.
The C-Aircross concept will make way for a production model in the summer. It will go on sale in late 2017, with first deliveries before Christmas.
Citroen isn’t the only manufacturer ditching MPVs for SUVs, with many of its key rivals adopting a pumped up look to capitalise on the trend for bold crossovers…
Renault hasn’t quite gone the whole hog with its latest Scenic. Despite giving it crossover styling cues such as larger wheels and a raised body, the car remains an MPV at heart. Bosses admit the Scenic will be axed if it doesn’t win over fussy European buyers – but with the Kadjar SUV selling so well, there’s little cause for concern.
Citroen’s sister brand has totally reinvented its 3008 family car, ditching the frumpy MPV styling in favour of a more desirable SUV offering. The bold front end and raised suspension appeal to a younger market, while the tech-laden but practical interior – including a bigger boot – offers everything the modern car buyer needs.
Vauxhall Crossland X
The Crossland X sits on a platform jointly developed with the PSA Group. Vauxhall is marketing it as a CUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle), but its intentions are clear. Replacing the ageing Meriva, the Crossland is a funkier take on the family car formula – with crossover styling, decent interior space and a slightly raised ride height.