Ollie Marriage05 September 2011

Citroen reveals the Tubik concept

French carmaker's nine-seater fun bus re-imagines the MPV. Is gloriously bonkers...

Citroen Tubik

Of course the Citroen Tubik is a concept. You can't see something this mad making it into production can you? And it's a concept van, for heaven's sake, a nine-seater with a pull-out luggage drawer, doors that open in funny directions and seats that groove.

It's inspired by the Type H, Citroen's famous corrugated van - same piggy nose, similar all-round squareness, but bigger of course: a little over two metres high and wide, and 4.8 metres long with mechanical bits at either end poking out of that smooth, wrapover shell.

See more pics of the Citroen Tubik concept

Yep, mechanical bits at either end - the Tubik uses PSA's Hybrid4 system, with a 160bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine up front and the battery/electric motor gubbins generating another 37bhp out back. So it has a nice low centre of gravity, 4wd and about 200bhp.

Of course, this being a concept it's not intended to actually move, and besides it's the passenger packaging that's the most intriguing part of the Tubik. The driver is separated off, ensconced in his own circular sphere of influence, named - surely in homage to 1950's sci-fi films - the Cyclotron. Next to him in the front row is a two-person bench which pivots to face either forwards or backwards.

Behind are two rows of three, the middle bench capable of folding flat to act as a table, sliding away out of sight or laying itself out flat to be a lounging area. Access is through quite the most ridiculous door TG has seen in a while. It's a bit like a private jet in that the top half (which despite being made from carbon fibre weighs 150kg) lifts up while the bottom part drops to form a step. It's magnificently bonkers.

So if the Tubik is the answer, what was the question? Here's Carlo Bonzanigo, Citroen's head of advanced design: "the question we asked ourselves was how can we rethink the transport of several persons with their luggage, their hardware, on a voyage where the travel is more important than the destination."

So a ground-up rethink of the MPV. This is not impossible. Volkswagen is already much further down this road (albeit at a smaller scale) with the Bulli, while the Ford S-Max proved Daddys can be cool. It could work for Citroen - no other firm has such a reputation for innovation, and in the DS brand it has the right - excuse the pun - vehicle to take the concept forward.

But the thing to remember with concept cars is that there are no guarantees. There's no promise that aside from the occasional motorshow and public appearance the Tubik will ever see the light of day again. And that would be a shame.

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